Q: Recent columns have raised a concern for me relative to using solid-state hard drives (SSD). I have a SanDisk 1 terabyte external SSD. I use Quicken to manage my bank account, and have it set for automatic backup to my SSD. Do these frequent backups to the SSD count as “writing” or “rewriting” to the SSD, for which there is a limited number of? If so, what is the limit? If these backups count as writing to the SSD, I would think I will get limited use of the SSD which defeats the purpose of having this higher-cost hard drive.
— Ken Stone, Tumwater
A: Yes, solid-state drives (SSD) can only perform a limited number of writes (or erasures) before they wear out and start producing errors. The good news is that a quality SSD can handle very large number of such operations before hitting the wall. In one recent test of six SSDs, half of them wrote a petabyte of data before wearing out. A petabyte, by the way, is 1,000 terabytes or 1 million gigabytes. That would mean that if you wrote 100 gigabytes of data each day it would take you more than 27 years to reach the number of data writes that caused half the SSDs to fail.
And yes, those backups to your SSD do count as writing. Still, I very much doubt you’ll reach the write limit backing up your Quicken data.
The question I’d ask, however, is whether you want to spend the money on an SSD for that purpose.
The main advantage of SSDs is that they are fast and are very portable. They are also significantly more expensive than traditional hard drives. Unless your Quicken backups are time consuming, then, I’d think about backing them up to a traditional external hard drive.
I spend a lot of time working with large video files. After filming, I save the video files in two places. I back up all the files to a relatively inexpensive traditional external hard drive. Since I’m not going to be editing and compiling the backups, speed is not an issue so I don’t need the more expensive SSDs.
I save the video files I’m going to edit on SSD drives because they are fast and portable. While editing and compiling those files means an awful lot of writing and erasing operations, once I fill up an SSD there’s no more writing to be done. I haven’t yet hit the ceiling on an SSD.
One last suggestion: Don’t store your backup data in the same location as your original data. You don’t want a fire or a flood wiping out both versions.
Q: One of your recent columns dealt with a “dead zone” and you advised a fix in Windows 11. I’ve been dealing with a dead zone for the past few months and can temporarily fix it with a restart. I tried the Windows option you suggested and, although the Windows setting said my computer was up-to-date, there was a cumulative update available. I installed that and the dead zone disappeared but then reappeared a day later. Also, since this all began, I now have a screen that appears when I have restarted or installed an update that asks me how I want to open the selected file: Notepad, Media Player or Another App. Since I’m not terribly computer savvy, I’m totally confused.
— Arlene Williams
A: If you’re running the latest version of Windows 11, I suspect the problem is with a misbehaving app that is loading when you start your computer. To check if this is the case, click on the Windows Startup button in the lower-left corner, then click in the search field at the top of the window that opens. Type “startup” and you’ll see Startup Apps appear as a match. Click on that and you’ll get a list of all the apps that load when you boot your computer. You can toggle each app on or off. Toggle them all off and restart your computer. If the problem disappears you can toggle the apps you want to load at startup one by one until the problem recurs.
If this doesn’t solve your problem, it’s likely going to take some hands-on troubleshooting to find a solution.