What to do about a critical warning for a storage device

Are you experiencing device slowness or freezing, a longer computer startup time, or difficulty updating to the latest version of Windows 10? Here's what to do when you see the following notifcation:

Critical alert message

We strongly recommend you pay attention to this message. Back up your data and contact Microsoft support to resolve any additional concerns or issues.

What does this message mean?

When Windows sends this notification, select the message or go to Start  > Settings  > System  > Storage  > Manage disks and volumes, then select Properties for the problematic disk to see additional details. For example:

An example of a disk page

Note: The Manage disks and volumes feature is currenlty available only for Windows Insiders.

There are three types of critical warnings:

Warning

Description

Spare capacity is low

Spare storage capacity is below the manufacturer's safety threshold.

Reliability is degraded

Reliability is degraded because of significant media-related errors or an internal error to the NVM subsystem.

Drive is set to read-only

Data stored on the device can still be accessed but you can’t write to it.


There are also three disk health attributes you can watch that affect disk performance:

Attribute

Description

Estimated remaining life

The approximate percentage used, which is based on the manufacturer’s prediction of drive life. Note that although the value is capped at 0%, a value below that is possible as consumption does not automatically mean device failure.

Available spare

A normalized percentage (0% to 100%) of the remaining spare capacity available.

Temperature

Temperature of the overall device in degrees Celsius.

More about SSD storage devices

SSD storage devices are built-in or external devices based on integrated circuit assemblies and flash memory. SSD is an abbreviation for solid-state drive or solid-state device. 

These devices have two main bus interfaces:

  • Traditional: Serial AT Attachment (SATA)

  • High speed: Non-Volatile Memory (NVMe), which is is an associated communications standard.

Note: Windows only monitors NVM SSD and not SATA SSD or hard disk drives (HDD).

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