An apparent problem in Apple’s new M1 processor-based Macs causes excessive writes to the SSD, which can greatly reduce its lifespan.
Three months have already passed since the distribution worldwide of the new Macs with Apple’s M1 processor, and we can already draw many conclusions. At this point, it is already clear that Apple can revolutionize the personal computer, with a powerful but very efficient processor.
It is just as clear that we are at the beginning of a new era, and that beginnings are always difficult. After a ‘grace period’, we are already seeing malware designed for the new Macs, for example, and problems have also been found in battery consumption.
Now we can add another to the list: A problem that triggers the amount of data written to the integrated SSD, causing it, in the long term, to suffer corruption errors in stored files.
Problems on new Macs
Some users of the new Macs with M1 processor have warned on social networks and sites like Reddit that they have discovered an excessive use of storage on their devices.
Without the user doing anything, the system is writing data to the internal drive for no apparent reason; Although it is somewhat difficult to detect if we are not specifically looking for it, since the writing is done in the background and without notifying the user.
That is why it is complicated to know to what extent this is a widespread problem. In fact, it’s been weeks since the first users noticed it, but it hasn’t been until now that more people have shared the same experience with their computers.
The amount of data written to the hard drives is absurd; One user on Twitter shared a screenshot showing that the system wrote no less than 150TB of data, and read some 159TB, over a period of just two months. That, on an SSD that is ‘only’ 2TB, indicates that the system is constantly writing and reading data.
It would kill the SSD
That can become a very serious problem in just a few months of laptop use. And it is well known that SSDs get worse with time and use, to the point of becoming totally unusable.
Unlike a hard disk, where data storage is done with a magnetic recording on a disk, an SSD uses memory chips, which can be written only a certain number of times until they start to fail.
For the average user, that’s not usually a problem, although it’s something to keep in mind in the later years of device use; Most people simply don’t generate enough TB every day to affect the lifespan of the SSD. But if the operating system is constantly writing to the drive, that changes.
2TB 16GB model. 3% used.
That means that for a 256GB model, proportionally, you'd expect ~30% usage.
If this is accurate, some of these machines aren't going to last half a year to 100%.
And that's a 16GB model. 8GB should be worse.
Holy shit. https://t.co/9HcmaYgJPT
— Hector Martin (@marcan42) February 15, 2021
Estimates indicate that, with such a daily transfer rate, it’s possible that SSDs in MacBooks could start to fail after six months of use; It’s possible that even sooner we could notice changes in performance, or that we could lose files without explanation.
However, the full details of this case are not yet known, due to its very nature; After all, it has not been that many months since the launch of these computers.
Another detail to keep in mind is that Apple does not offer an easy way to obtain SSD usage data; The tool used to obtain it may not be fully compatible with macOS for ARM and get erroneous data. Be that as it may, Apple has not yet made any statements on the matter.