Estimated difficulty and completion time: 15 minutes, low difficulty.

Unlike conventional mechanical hard drives, Solid State Drives (SSD’s) do not use platters and write heads to store data. Instead, they use memory cells (called NAND cells) that use flash storage, similar to USB flash drives, to store their data. The advantages of solid state storage are lower power consumption, no spool up time, less heat output, and greater resistance to physical damage since there are no moving parts. Just like mechanical drives, though, SSD’s don’t last forever. An SSD’s life span is measured in terabytes written (TBW), or how many terabytes of data can be written to the drive before serious cell degradation occurs. Most SSD manufacturers have a utility available for their SSD’s that allows you to monitor the drive’s health, TBW, as well as check for firmware updates. Checking for new firmware is highly recommended, as newer firmware can extend the life of the drive.

Your Velocity Micro system should come preinstalled with the utility for your particular drive (Samsung Magician for Samsung, Crucial Storage Executive for Crucial, etc.). Simply launch the program through the Start Menu. For Samsung Magician, the first screen will be an overview of the Samsung drive in your system, with available firmware updates (if any), drive health, TBW, and some other links in the bottom. If you are using Crucial Storage Executive, it will show you the health and usage of all drives connected to your system, not just the SSD. NOTE: Most of these utilities will monitor the health and status of other drives present in the system such as mechanical storage, but they will not be able to do much more than monitor the health or perform a S.M.A.R.T. analysis. In the case of Crucial Storage Executive, there are more shortcuts to the left for drive details, S.M.A.R.T. analysis, firmware updates, as well as sanitizing the drive. One key difference in Crucial’s utility is the option to perform a live firmware update, or updating the firmware of the drive without immediately needing to reboot. Intel also has their utility, called the Intel SSD Toolbox, which has a very similar layout to Crucial Storage Executive.

One thing to note, however, is if you have two or more SSD’s in any kind of RAID setup, then none of these utilities will see the individual drives. If you have two Crucial drives in RAID 0, both Windows and Crucial Storage Executive will see it as a single “Intel RAID Volume” and will not be able to update the firmware of either drive. If you want to monitor the health of a RAID setup, then you will need to use the Intel Rapid Storage Technology.

NOTE: If you have an older Velocity Micro system you may have a Micron SSD rather than a Crucial. Crucial is a subsidiary of Micron, and they often simply rebrand Micron products with the Crucial name. One such product is Storage Executive, with both Micron and Crucial’s version able to work with the other. They are essentially the same program.