SSDs start out really fast and then quickly start to lose their speed and over time become subject to corruption. In fact SSDs require that old data be erased before new data is written over it, rather than just writing over the old information like with hard drives. This doubles the wear and tear and can cause major issues.
The principle issue is write speed degradation due to free space fragmentation. Small free spaces scattered across the SSD cause the file system to write a file in fragmented pieces to those small available free spaces. By doing so, it degrades write performance by as much as 80% to the solid state drive.
SSDs can only write so many times to the drive as they have a finite number of writes that they can perform. Due to the doubling effect of needing to read and erase before it can write again, SSDs undergo twice as much use.
As the SSD approaches its limit, more fragmentation and write errors occur, causing SSD slows. Write performance decreases proportionately as free space fragmentation increases. All SSDs will suffer from this problem at one point or another and once this level reached, secure erase must be highly considered to recover the lost performance of the SSD. (To read about the most common reasons that cause an SSD to slow down, Click Here)
Why Secure Erase?
It is not only a matter of sanitizing the drive, but it will restore the loss of performance on systems with inefficient garbage collection. SSDs require different methods of maintenance from standard hard disk drives. One of the most commonly performed actions is to secure erase the drive. A secure erase differs from a format, and is the only way to completely erase a solid-state drive.
The more you read and write from/into your SSD, the more you lose from its performance. So please DO NOT FORMAT your SSD drive like you do with your HDD, because you are killing its performance, as FORMAT command actually writes zeroes everywhere on the drive (Especially with Windows Vista and later), while, according to OCZ Technology, Secure Erase doesn’t write zeros to a SSD. The actual process only takes a few hundred milliseconds applying a high voltage to the substrate.
According to Sean Webster, an author on overclock.net forum: “The only reasons to secure erase is if there is a drastic speed decrease from either a hard workload or a TRIMless environment which you need to fix quickly, or if your SSD is acting up. Otherwise TRIM and garbage collection will take care of everything automatically.”
On other hand, Andrew Ku from tomshardware.com recommended using secure erase before re-formatting your drive. He wrote: “Typically, it isn’t necessary for you to use secure erase, since the TRIM command helps maintain the performance of your solid-state drive. However, there are occasions when it comes in handy, particularly before a re-format or prior to rebuilding a RAID array.”
As for Kingston technology: “When an ATA Secure Erase (SE) command is issued against a SSD’s built-in controller that properly supports it, the SSD controller resets all its storage cells as empty (releasing stored electrons) – thus restoring the SSD to factory default settings and write performance. When properly implemented, SE will process all storage regions including the protected service regions of the media.”
So in conclusion, if your SSD is behaving weirdly and became slower than the first time you used it, or you are going to format it, it is advised to secure erase it to maintain the peak level of performance and eliminate any factor for reducing the speed of your SSD drive.
To read a full guide on how to secure erase your SSD properly, visit this page.