Over the past year there has been a rash of SSD failures unmatched by any prior year. This came to a head a month ago when Apple’s M1 Mac started to show undue SSD wear. It seems that people trapped at home and working remotely have taken up new habits on their notebook PCs (most of which now use SSDs) and these habits are causing their SSDs to wear out faster than they have in other, more normal years.
The “Work from Home” phenomenon has not only caused people to rely more heavily upon their notebook PCs, but it has also changed the way they live, with constant Zoom meetings, and no boss watching over your shoulder to assure that you’re not spending the entire day watching cat videos on YouTube.
In the off hours the same PC is being used to watch movies, take courses, play video games, or do shopping. Club meetings, religious gatherings, chats with friends, and even travel are done on the same PC.
This by itself does not do all that much to increase SSD usage, but many users are surreptitiously recording all of their Zoom meetings in the hopes of catching a co-worker doing something embarrassing that can later be edited and shared on YouTube with the intent that it will go viral. Others spend a good bit of their work day downloading more videos than they will ever have time to watch during their time off, since it’s impossible to spend the off hours joining friends to see a film, or to have dinner out, or go dancing, or visit an amusement park, or congregate in the local watering hole.
All of this is placing a much higher-than-normal write load on their SSDs, and this chews up their drive writes per day, leading to SSD failures. The phenomenon has been given the name “COVID Fatigue”.
Evidence of this can be seen by visiting repair shops like Buddy’s PC Repair and Discount Cigarettes, a small shop in Yreka, California. “I never seen something like this,” says Buddy. “Everybody who comes around needs a new SSD!” As evidence he shows the pile of failed SSDs out back, which has grown as high as the roofline of his shop. Crickets have taken residence in the pile.
Buddy continues: “They don’t take well to losing their PCs for a day or two — it cuts them off from the only contact they have with the outside world. I get maybe 4-5 phone calls a day from some of them asking when I’ll be done, but it takes a couple days to get a replacement, and sometimes longer, if the right fit is on back-order. It’s a genuine nightmare!”
Stranded PC users find themselves driven to distraction. Some even stuff cloves into oranges and treat them as Voodoo dolls of the COVID-19 virus. (See the photo at the top.) Others fall into a deep funk. It’s unbelievably hard on them.
The situation has benefited SSD makers, whose sales have seen a burst of growth. This has been reflected by stock price increases for companies who produce SSDs.
Even so, both buyers and sellers of SSDs look forward to more normal times, when the COVID pandemic is no more than a bad memory. In fact, The SSD Guy sincerely hopes that there’s something much cheerier to write about when April 1st rolls around again next year.
(Thanks to Organic Authority for the use of the photo)