Buying Used SSD Drives

As a part of my purchasing online series these articles are designed to help you make sound decisions buying items online and in some cases help protect your purchase.  I will use my experience as a seller, buyer and multitude of years in IT to provide information for you to make an informed decision.  Today we will be looking at buying SSD drives online.

There are many options for buying SSD drives online.  There are new, refurbished and used condition drives.  You could buy them from Amazon, Ebay, independent sites or an array of other locations.  Used SSD drives are very tempting because they are offered at a great price point and offer excellent performance.  It is important however to know what you are buying and what to look for when purchasing these storage options.  Often you will see the drive has been wiped by the company who is selling the drive.  What you may or may not know is, a wiped drive is a drive that has had every sector, or cell in the case of an SSD drive written to, usually zero's.  Some company's may format or partition the drive, but this is technically not a wiped drive because the data is still retrievable.  The danger of a wiped SSD drive, in the sense of a properly wiped drive, is that SSD drives have a limited write cycle and employ a technique call wear leveling.  This writes to all cells evenly on the drive preventing any one cell from prematurely failing.  When you properly wipe a drive you are writing to all cells of the drive and prematurely putting wear on the drive that will cause the drive to fail sooner than it normally would.

When buying a used SSD drive online it is a good idea to inquire about the drive.  First ask if the drive has been wiped.  If it has ask how they wiped the drive, if it has had a military grade wipe this typically means the drive has had zeroes written to each cell 7 times.  This will put a large amount of wear on the drive and you need to decide if you want to take the chance of the drive failing earlier than anticipated.  If the drive has been partitioned or formatted then the amount of wear will not be as significant as a proper wipe of the drive.

In terms of SSD drives you want to minimize the amount of times you write to the drive, so many people use them for the OS partition and then use a regular mechanical HDD or hard drive as the drive to store there data.  If your work involves constant saving to the drive for example writing programs, graphic artists or constantly updating large files it would be a good idea to save these files to a mechanical HDD to help prevent undue wear on the drive.  An important piece of information to know, when buying an SSD drive, the larger the capacity of the drive, the longer the drive will last.  This is because there are more cells to write to on the drive allowing additional information to be written before all the cells have been written to.

To recap, when buying used SSD's make sure you know how the drive has been wiped because the potential for wear on the drive could be significant and cause premature failure of the drive.  Also be aware of how you are using the drive, what you are saving to it and what is running on the drive.  The goal is to reduce the number of writes to your drive and have it live a happy long life :-)