Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

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mercalia
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Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby mercalia » 6 Oct 2016, 12:27am

Those who use Firefox know that it has a recovery function eg if the os crashes and needs to restart manually Firefox will offer to restore your tabs. It seems like this funtion can trash ssds by writing its recovery data too frequently to the ssd. ie save the browsers state every 15 seconds. This might happen if you have lots of tabs open all the time. You all probably know that ssds only have a limited life, the cells can only be written a number of times. Those Firefox users who keep lots of tabs open can easily have it write to the ssd mb or gb a day. The default setting is 15000 milleseconds ie every 15 seconds. Users are advised to increase this. Me. I have about 20+ tabs open all the time :oops: and this desk top is on all the day :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: I had been wondering why a new ssd had gone down to 99% life left so quickly

How to do this

in the url bar type about:config

search for browser.sessionstore.interval

increase the interval to atleast 150000. ( add a 0 )

The researcher who found this out changed his to 30 minutes. ( add 00)

then close the tab. probably a good idea to restart the browser

Seems like it is not just Firefox that does this but also Googles Chrome ( so dont get smug Google the reserachers found a particular case was writing 24gb aday :shock: ) No soln for Google is known as of this post

Canuk
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby Canuk » 6 Oct 2016, 12:56am

That I did not know about Firefox... Is there a similar problem with Chrome...

mercalia
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby mercalia » 6 Oct 2016, 1:16am

Canuk wrote:That I did not know about Firefox... Is there a similar problem with Chrome...


the last line . seems so but no soln it seems. dont keep open lots of tabs

"Seems like it is not just Firefox that does this but also Googles Chrome ( so dont get smug Google the reserachers found a particular case was writing 24gb aday :shock: ) No soln for Google is known as of this post"

I heard this today on a podcast called Security Now! hosted by Steve Gibson on the Twittv network, so is quite new information

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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby Vorpal » 6 Oct 2016, 7:19am

mercalia wrote:Seems like it is not just Firefox that does this but also Googles Chrome ( so dont get smug Google the reserachers found a particular case was writing 24gb aday :shock: ) No soln for Google is known as of this post


For most people, this will never affect the life of their SSD. Drvies have the re/write capacity specced. They say something like 'endurance of 220TBW' (typical for a 750 GB drive).

So, at 24 GB per day, it would take something like 25 years to kill the SSD. Of course, some of that capacity is needed for other things, but it's not something that I would worry overly much about. Something else will die first. :mrgreen:
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Mick F
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby Mick F » 6 Oct 2016, 8:05am

How can a SSD wear out?
They are solid state.
Obviously, they have a finite life, but it would be a very very very long time.

If you were saying HDDs, I would agree.
Mick F. Cornwall

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barrym
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby barrym » 6 Oct 2016, 8:47am

Mick F wrote:How can a SSD wear out?
They are solid state.
Obviously, they have a finite life, but it would be a very very very long time.

If you were saying HDDs, I would agree.


You'd think that wouldn't you? However there has always been a max r/w cycle that once reached will start to throw up errors. Now, even when SSDs cam out this was a very big number, and for most uses was just theoretical. Recommendations were to not put file systems such as swap on them for this reason.

More recently things have improved, and the cycle time has gone out to a point where it can be ignored for most personal device usage. There was a report published a few moths ago on one of the tech sites where they had tested way past the published figures and some manufacturers were beginning to make claims of extended life.

I'm surprised that caching open tabs was seen as a high usage application anyway. Makes you wonder about all the cloud computers, chromebooks etc. Do you reckon they overlooked this?
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby Vorpal » 6 Oct 2016, 9:35am

Mick F wrote:How can a SSD wear out?
They are solid state.
Obviously, they have a finite life, but it would be a very very very long time.

If you were saying HDDs, I would agree.

When you erase and rewrite memory, there are usually a few memory cells 'lost' or corrupted. It's not noticieable once or twice, but over time the capacity deteriorates. A typical SSD will have lost a few percent of it's cells in the life of a home use PC. Most people never even notice.
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661-Pete
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby 661-Pete » 6 Oct 2016, 9:44am

Use a computer...
...with a hard drive. :mrgreen:
Suppose that this room is a lift. The support breaks and down we go with ever-increasing velocity.
Let us pass the time by performing physical experiments...
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby kwackers » 6 Oct 2016, 9:53am

Mick F wrote:How can a SSD wear out?
They are solid state.
Obviously, they have a finite life, but it would be a very very very long time.

If you were saying HDDs, I would agree.

Electrons move back and forth, things heat up and cool down, materials migrate, there's microscopic erosion at the molecular level.
Eventually even CPU's stop working...

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Graham
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby Graham » 6 Oct 2016, 10:13am

I'd prefer that my browser does not do an automatic restart/restore.

Two possibles to switch it OFF :-
.restore_on_demand . . . . . .. currently TRUE
.resume_from_crash . . . . . . currently TRUE

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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby Feek » 6 Oct 2016, 10:36am

Vorpal wrote:For most people, this will never affect the life of their SSD. Drvies have the re/write capacity specced. They say something like 'endurance of 220TBW' (typical for a 750 GB drive).

So, at 24 GB per day, it would take something like 25 years to kill the SSD. Of course, some of that capacity is needed for other things, but it's not something that I would worry overly much about. Something else will die first. :mrgreen:

Exactly this. 99.999% of people will never suffer an issue because of this. It's really nothing to worry about.

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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby Psamathe » 6 Oct 2016, 10:46am

Mick F wrote:How can a SSD wear out?
They are solid state.
Obviously, they have a finite life, but it would be a very very very long time.

If you were saying HDDs, I would agree.

SSDs have a limited number of program/erase cycles (P/E). If you repeatedly write to the same part of a disk you will be using up those cycles far quicker than if you are spreading the same number of P/E cycles across the entire disk (hence the problem with repeatedly using the recovery sector - repeatedly writing to the same part of the disk). Ideally the SSD controller should implement wear levelling (but I have no idea if they do). SLC flash can typically endure 100,000 P/E cycles whilst MLC only between 1,000 and 10,000 (some people put MLC cycle limit at 5,000); TLC drives are rare.. SLC drives are somewhat more expensive than the MLC drives.

Some argue that for longevity the controller is as important as the technology, except I guess that repeatedly and frequently writing to a small partition might limit the optimisations the controller can implement.

My understanding (which might be out of date as technology can change (fast).

Ian

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661-Pete
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby 661-Pete » 6 Oct 2016, 10:59am

I don't make much use of SSDs except in cameras, where it's not really an issue. I don't have a smartphone, and memory sticks are just for transferring stuff from one computer to another.

But I have spent many years working with Flash memory, which is at the heart of most SSDs, in the embedded software which has been my occupation for years. I have heeded warnings about excessive write/read/erase cycles to the same location, and arranged for the software to be so written as to lessen the risks. But it's never really been a problem in my work.

I would have thought, a good OS/browser combo, would also be so organised as to spread the write cycles evenly about the physical device, so as to maximise its lifetime. But there: I've never been involved in that sort of stuff, and I can't answer for Microsoft or Google (or even Mozilla)!
Suppose that this room is a lift. The support breaks and down we go with ever-increasing velocity.
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mercalia
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby mercalia » 6 Oct 2016, 11:11am

I am surprised at the complacancy of some here quoting theoretical "facts" about ssds. The research in question not just idle speculation. if you want to hear the podcast where I heard this go over to Twittv and the security now podcast and wade thru the show until you get to the section.

or

https://twit.tv/shows/security-now/episodes/580?autostart=false

This issue will only affect those who keep their browser open all the time with lots of tabs

Even if you dont increasing the recovery delay should make for a more snappy experience as recovery data not being backed up so frequently?
Last edited by mercalia on 6 Oct 2016, 7:16pm, edited 2 times in total.

PH
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Re: Firefox Browser Users Warning! SSD wear and tear

Postby PH » 6 Oct 2016, 11:47am

It's an argument for a proper back up regime rather than something to worry about. There's plenty of things that could kill a drive, there's plenty of ways to ensure that's a minor inconvenience rather than a disaster.