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Community Manager

SSD: dangerous to use with Windows XP?

I have been using 3 SSD drives for about 6 weeks now and have a mixed bag of feelings... For previosu stories see

I have two laptops having 80GB and 160GB drives installed, both running Windows XP, and one desktop 320GB with Vista on it. The drives are about 60 - 70 % full, with lots of daily activity going on. I had the "Toolbox Optimization utility", aka TRIM guy, scheduled to run twice a week. The laptops got very fast, not doubt about it!

Here is what has happened to me:

1. System # 1, 160GB, lots of code installs and data movement, suddendly got slow, XP froze. Multiple boot attempts got through to various stages of the system being loaded. After about 3 of them decided to boot standalone Acronis True Image and was able to pull a backup image off the SDD drive. Then tried to boot the system a few times, ended up with "No system disk found".

Replaced the SDD with a regular drive, restored the backup image, was back in business in about 3 hrs, sweating and swearing a lot. Connected the SSD drive over USB, the system would not even detect it, looked like fried electronically. Checked the restored drive for fragmentation: the picture showed sectors used all the way up to the drives capacity, with lots of holes in between. So... did it run out of free sectors while it was on SSD?

Luckily still within 30-day "no questions asked" return policy from Amazon, got the drive replaced the next day. Repeated the SSD installation procedure, booted off it and never had any problems since then (3 weeks). I am very careful now to run the TRIM utility before and after any task involving large amounts of data. Have it set to run 3 times a week automatically. Reasonably happy.

2. System # 2: 80GB, medium activity. System got slower, reported booting error, repeated boot got me through. Remembering the lesson from system # 1, fired up TRIM utility (set to run twice a week anyway), the moment it started spinning, even before getting to 1% checked, POOF! The system froze and I got the "blue screen of death". "No system disk" on boot attempt. Found the original disk, replaced, booted OK, except data was a month old as I was not keeping up with backups (ever heard of a failing SDD drive?!, nah... right...). Connected the SSD drive via USB: seems to work electronically, data recovery utilities did not find a single file on it, it is totally GONE! Lesson learned: keep current backup! I am about to exercise the 5 years warranty rights from Intel and give it another try... Totally not happy.

3. My system # 3, desktop using a 320GB SSD: running Vista happily for 6 weeks now. I dilligently run the TRIM utility and backups twice a week. Very happy with performance, so-so happy otherwise because I constantly need to watch what I am doing.

Anyway, I wanted to share my experience with you all and ask the big question: should people be using SSD drives with systems which do not have an automatic TRIM capability? I think this is quite dangerous, despite Intel not saying anything about such dangers of the drives going completely kaputt when they run out of free sectors.


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Community Manager

Well, here is the experience I just had with the Intel support while trying to exercise my warranty rights:

Intel: The standard warranty replacement works like this: You will receive an e-mail with the address of our main depot, we will need you to send the drive to us and then we will send you back the replacement; from the moment we receive your drive we have five business days to send the replacement to you

Intel: The Pay for Cross ship option has a $25 fee; we need a credit card to charge the amount and also to charge the cost for the Solid-state drive plus taxes, because we will ship you the replacement the next day with a prepaid label, and when we receive your bad product the charged will be refunded; basically the $25 fee cover both shipping's.

Intel: What option would you prefer?

and my response: "... what you propose in terms of warranty service is simply disappointing and it stinks. Not only did I incur loss of time and data due to your defective product but you also are asking that I pay for the warranty service. Shame on you Intel! By the way, Amazon not only replaced another failed Intel SSD drive free of charge but also sent the replacement overnight."

The fact that you have actually pay more or less for the warranty service only adds insult to injury on top of whatever damage was caused by the failing SSD in the first place.This is not the level of service and product quality I expect from a company like Intel.

Shame on you again!


Community Manager

- Are all your SSD drives 80/120/300GB Intel 320 series?

- What is your current SSD firmware level?

Did you apply the Intel SSD firmware upgrade v1.9.0 or v1.9.2 (4PC10362),



- Were your 80GB and 120GB SSD's hit by the so called "8 MB bug"?

Community Manager

Hi, thanks for commenting!

o Yes, all drives are the 320 series.

o All have firmware at the 4PC10302 level. And I did not apply any updates.

o "8 MB bug"? I wouldn't know But looking at the document you referenced it sounds very scary and possibly applicable in my scenarios. .... 20 minutes later after reading more on this subject:

- The 80GB drive malfunctioned after a Hibernate (meaning an orderly power down) and I still was able to boot it. It only died during the execution of the TRIM utility and it still shows 80GB of empty capacity. Probably not fitting the BAD_CTX 13x Error scenario.

- The 160GB drive is a more lileky candidate: it could be a mix of it running out of free sectores, at which time the system died, and then me forcefully powering it down a number of times during failed boot attempts. But this does not explain why the drive would not be recognized any longer, even at 8MB, afterwards.

It seems that it makes sense to update the firmware, which may be not so simple looking at things which possibly one needs to tweak or things which could go wrong, including loss of data, again.


Community Manager

You probably should first restored the drive to it's original factory state and/or capacity by performing a secure erase with HDDErase.

Or using the secure erase function in the Intel Toolbox, on the condition that the SSD drive is not a boot device and does not contain partitions.


In many cases this needs to be done before the firmware can be updated.
Community Manager

I took the plunge and updated the firmware on my 160GB SSD installed in a laptop, worked OK.

My 320GB in the desktop would not upgrade because the SDD is connected via an add-on SATA controller and is not being recognized by the firmware tool. Will have to remove it, put in a laptop and update the firmware that way.

I am not going to bother with the 80GB which is going to be replaced by Intel, I will update the replacement drive if it is not current on firmware.

But the point I was going to make is about something else: are the SSD drives reliable enough that I can trust them working in my systems? I earn my living using my computers, and while I consider myself quite computer-literate, it was a traumatizing experience to go what I went through. Can anybody, Intel or otherwise, guarantee that after I apply this firmware update they will not fail again? I my 20 years of using PC's I had a classic hard drive fail on me once, and that only because of something I did, so my expectations in term of hard drive reliability in my systems are quite high.

Unrealisticly high for SSD? I went with Intel because the competition had bad reviews. If I knew then, and it was only 2 moths ago!, what I know today I doubt I would make the same decision.


Community Manager

I have used desktop PC's from 1987 and laptops from 1995. Never had a HDD crash or total failure. Started with an OCZ 64GB SSD sept-2010.

After 7 month's this ssd completely failed and I swapped it (dealer RMA) with an Intel 320 SSD 80GB because of there praised availalility.

Before the this new ssd arrived the "8MB bug" already emerged. I delayed the installation till the new firmware was available. Flashed the new firmware and immediately after that disconnected the SSD (powerless) for a few minutes.

This last action seems to be important!

I am now using the drive in a W7 notebook for 3 weeks without problems. However there are already 3-4 reports of the "8MB bug" AFTER flashing the new firmware.

So my personal conclusion is that SSD's are in no way yet as reliable as the current 2.5" 5400/7200 rpm hdd's.

I am now thinking of putting the original 7200rpm hdd back into my notebook and use the 80GB SSD as SSD caching device in a z68/ i5 chipset desktop PC.