Skip to main content

Glitches could make SSDs on new M1 Macs die early

Mac users are reporting alarming behavior on their M1-powered Macs — including Apple’s latest Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and 13-inch MacBook Pro models — that could lead to severely shortened lifespans of their internal storage drives. If the glitch continues, users expect that the solid-state drive (SSD) on the Mac will last just two years. The problem is especially notable on a Mac where the storage itself is not user-replaceable, which would either lead to a costly repair or a complete replacement of the entire computer if the drive prematurely fails.

Users of Apple’s newest M1-powered Macs are reporting that there is extremely high drive writes over a short period of time, and the most extreme cases resulted in approximately 10-13% of the maximum total bytes written, or TBW, of the SSD, according to an iMore report. In about two months, one user noted that the M1 Mac had already used 1% of the SSD, while Twitter user Hector Martin noted that on his 2TB system, the Mac had used 3% of the SSD.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

This had led to speculation that if it was a 256GB model rather than a 2TB Mac, the percentage used could be as high as 30%. This means that the system would have reached its maximum TBW in two years.

Update on M1 SSD wear issue: Available data suggests that write endurance ratings are not proportional to drive size.

256GB model: ~2000TB [1700-2300]
2TB model: ~5000TB [4300-6000]

This means that @david_rysk's currently known worst case would push a 256GB model to 100% in ~2y

— Hector Martin (@marcan42) February 16, 2021

It’s also unclear if the problem is isolated to M1-powered Macs or if older Intel-based Mac systems are susceptible to this erratic storage behavior. Twitter user Dark-Phoenix confirmed that they are also running out of space due to abnormal usage on an older 2016 MacBook Pro, which is powered by Intel.

“On my MBP (15-inch, 2016) I use for work,” Dark Phoenix wrote. “I have it all backed up, but still my usage is abnormal since I do a lot of data processing and rarely have free space.”

This seemingly suggests that the problem may be software-related, rather than an issue with how Apple’s custom M1 silicon functions.

“Intel Macs qualify too, if you can scale that by the time you’ve owned it and it looks crazy,” Martin added in a subsequent tweet. “Obviously 100TB over 4 years is reasonable.”

However, it’s still unclear if this glitch exists because the system had made erroneous recordings, or if it’s a major problem related to MacOS writing unnecessary data to the drives. Oftentimes, drive monitoring tools can often misreport diagnostic information, and given the newness of the M1 chipset, there could be some compatibility issues with the tool or with other apps not behaving properly in the background.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

While SSD degradation is a normal process that happens over time with regular usage, extensively writing data to memory and filling it to capacity could make the storage unstable and lead to drive failure. Modern operating systems, like Apple’s MacOS when working properly, will attempt to preserve the integrity of the drive by spreading the load across the entire drive to prevent only a select portion of the drive from being overworked.

Whatever the case may be, hopefully, Apple can address the issues before more Mac systems get refreshed with the M1 chipset. Apple’s Mac Pro and iMac desktops are rumored to get overhauled this year, joining the much anticipated redesigned 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros.

Editors' Recommendations

Chuong Nguyen
Silicon Valley-based technology reporter and Giants baseball fan who splits his time between Northern California and Southern…
Here’s more confirmation that 2024 will be a slow year for Macs
3nm iphone ipad processors apple silicon imgae

There's some extra reason to believe that Apple could already be working on the M4 chip, but it may not be coming for a while. New research from Canalys, a market analytics firm, shows that the next entry in the Apple Silicon family could come in the first part of 2025 to target offerings from Intel, Qualcomm, and AMD.

Lining up with previous reporting from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Canalys is estimating that Apple could launch the M4 chip in the first quarter of 2025. It's a vague time frame, but it makes a lot of sense. Gurman previously said that Apple already has the M4 MacBook Pro in "formal development." Although this timing lines up with previous Apple Silicon chip refresh cycles, it would leave 2024 looking fairly light in terms of new Mac releases. Apple usually has some kind of October or November release focused on new Macs, but without new chips to launch, that might not happen this year.

Read more
Which color MacBook should you buy? Here’s how to pick
The MacBook Air on a table in front of a window.

Apple’s MacBook laptops come in a range of colors, and selecting which is right for you can be a tricky business. Sure, it’s perhaps not as important as deciding which chip to pick or how much memory you should buy, but it’s still a vital part of the equation. After all, you’re going to see that color every time you reach for your MacBook. You don’t want it to be something that fills you with regret.

But how should you pick a MacBook color? And what do the colors even look like in the first place? We’ve got the answers to those questions in this guide. We’d also advise you to go to an Apple Store to take a look at the MacBook colors in person, as some can be hard to appreciate just by browsing Apple’s website.

Read more
Why you should buy a MacBook Air instead of a MacBook Pro
The MacBook Air on a table in front of a window.

The MacBook Air has officially caught up. Now with the M3 on board, the MacBook Air has gained the benefits of the new chip, which was previously available just on the MacBook Pro and iMac.

Choosing between the M3 15-inch MacBook Air and the 14-inch MacBook Pro is tough, and requires an in-depth look at differences in ports, displays, speakers, and more. It's a legitimately hard decision to make.

Read more