What does an SSD’s TBW stand for and is it important

In this post, we will discuss what is TBW of an SSD is. We will also let you know how to determine if the TBW of an SSD is appropriate for your needs when buying an SSD. So stay tuned 😉

What is TBW?

TBW stands for Terabytes Written. It is a metric indicated by hardware manufactures to state how many terabytes could be written to the solid state disk (SSD) during it’s lifetime. The TBW metric is an important one to look out for when buying an SSD as it indicates how long a drive can be operational and useful before needing to replace it with a new one.

For example, if your drive has a capacity of 100 GBs, and the drive was rated at 100 TBW, then this means that the drive can be fully rewritten 1024 times! (1 Terabyte = 1024 Gigabytes). It is the same as stating how many times you can write over a VHS tape!, just in Terabytes 😉

So what does this mean? well, it really depends on how you intend to use the SSD. We will explain how to choose a drive based on TBW later in this post.

Why is TBW important?

Unlike traditional hard drives which are made of mechanical moving parts and magnetic disks, an SSDs memory is made of tiny tiny electronic gates (think NAND and NOR) which change state with everytime data gets written on them. When these gates are written to, they hold an electric charge in them which keeps the gate’s state “saved”.

A traditional mechanical drive


However, the more times you re-write to one of those precious gates, the more likely it is to become defective and unable to keep that electric charge, effectively “forgetting” your data.

This is why TBW is important, because it indicates how many times you could re-write an SSD drive before it can no longer hold on to your data. It is a different way to indicate the lifetime of the device.

What is a good TBW and how to choose an SSD based on it?

If you are looking into buying an SSD, then there are some things that you will need to keep in mind when it comes to TBW and the device’s lifetime.

How do you intend to use the SSD?

As with any electronic device you need to buy or replace, you will need to ask yourself, how do you intend to use it? When it comes to TBW, you will need to ask yourself questions such as:

  • How often do you write and delete data such as movies, music, documents?
  • How often do you install/delete applications and games from your system?
  • Do you intend to host systems with fast changing data, such as database systems?


All of these questions need to be answered before going and buying the most expensive SSD out there! The average Joe will use from 10 to 50 GBs per day on basic operating system functions, watching online videos, surfing the internet. All of these add up to data written to disk.

Now, if you go ahead and install a video game such as Red Dead Redemption 2, you will be using 150 GBs! of data just for storage. Thats 150 GBs written in a single hour.

If you are light user with an average of 30 GBs of data written per day and not much data to store, then a 100 TBW disk will technically be good for 3413 days or 9.35 years! ((100 TBW* 1024) / 30 GB = 3413 days).

In this case, a drive such as the WD Blue 3d NAND 500GB (Click to check on Amazon) which boasts a 200 TBW rating is probably more than enough for your needs.

However, if you are a power user, with both high performance requirements, and expectations to write 100s of GBs per day, then you better opt in to a Samsung SSD 970 EVO 2TB – NVMe PCIe M.2 (link to Amazon) which is rated at 1200 TBW!.


TBW is not everything. Quality is still important.

It is also important to note that we should not blindly chase TBW specs when choosing an SSD. The other important factor to consider is the quality of the device.

Remember when we talked about those electronic gates that hold your data? Given that there are so many many of them in an SSD, a hardware disk controller is required to manage them, and decide, which of them will be written to next.

A badly designed controller will not spread out the writing of the data evenly enough over the drive, causing some parts to be worn out before others.

This is why it is important to check customer reviews, and to make sure that the provider company is a reputable one with a history of high quality SSDs.

This is why I really like drives such as the 1 TB Samsung SSD 860 EVO (click to check on Amazon) which not only comes with a 600 TBW (source: Samsung) at a reasonable price, but also comes from a reputable company with a long history of reliable hardware devices.

Summary

In this post, we discussed what the TBW is and how to determine if an SSD is a good fit for your needs based on the TBW rating of the device.

If you are looking for a SATA SSD, then we compiled a list of the most popular 1TB drives you could find on the market. The list should help your search and gives you a variety of ideas and price points that fit your budget. You can check out our list here.

What does an SSD’s TBW stand for and is it important

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