Is thunar an SSD killer?

I had all my photos on a 1Tb SSD and while creating a folder view the thing died. It was less than two years old.

Would I be correct in assuming every time I open a folder with images, it generates and writes preview for each one somewhere on the disk?
Since SSD drives have limited write operations, that might explain why the disk got worn out so quickly, because I very rarely actually change the images once they are stored, so was not expecting many write operations.

If it does work that way, can i configure it to put the previews in memory only (If necessary by adding some more ram)?

No, that would be incorrect. It generates those previews only the first time, and it stores them in a cache.

SSDs, like all modern electronics, are mass-produced, and together with the increase in mass-production volume comes an increase in the percentage of products that somehow manage to slip through quality control.

There’s a reason why manufacturers have reduced the warranty versus a couple of years ago. They’re trying to make lots of money fast by selling inferior products. After all, that strategy has always worked very well for Microsoft. :grin:

You probably had a drive of lesser quality, minutely programmed by the gods to break down the day right after the warranty expired. It happens. I myself have owned three computers that were already flawed on the day they were shipped to me — I’ll spare you the details.


I had hundreds of giga bytes of images on that disk and every time I changed folder it would very slowly paint the thumbnails one by one.
To me it looked like they were being generated each time rather than fetched from cache.

Also when unmounting the drive it would say not to remove it until it finished writing… even when all I had done was look for an image that was stored there, no writing expected.

I’m still wondering if I have something set up wrong. Can I configure where and how large that cache needs to be?

Well maybe that’s a little harsh - but partly true.

Generally an SSD (as with most modern electronics produced in high quality factories) should fail within the first week or two if it’s going to fail at all - quality control is adjusted to balance the cost of replacing duds with the increased cost of QC.

One thing is for sure, as Photos aren’t an extremely large item to store, I’d suggest keeping them on an SSD, but also running an rsync backup to duplicate them on a decent media/storage HDD. 4TB Toshibas are cheap and VERY cheerful :wink:


I assume your SSD was attached via USB?
I experience similar using USB-sticks and attribute it to the underlying default combo of udisks2/gvfs. There is udiskie as an udisks2 alternative, but I have not tried it.
Regarding the slow thumbnail generation: Perhaps it actually did regenerate them each time, since it was a removable drive? Have you looked in ~/.cache/tumbnails/, if it did cache them?

Were you using any form of encryption? (There’s a reason I ask.)

What was the brand/model of the SSD?

How was the SSD attached? Internal? External? If internal, was it part of your home/root filesystem, or a separate “storage only” filesystem?

Other than that, I feel your pain. It can’t be ignored you’re making assumptions as you attempt to relate one issue to another.

Yes. SSDs have limited writes. But theoretically, you’re looking at thousands upon thousands of write cycles.

Yes. Your SSD was “less than two years old.” However, storage media fail along a “bell curve”. Some fail quickly, while some last for ridiculously long times, while most of them fail somewhere along the curve.


This would be the function of tumbler in XFCE. There is a config file /etc/xdg/tumber/ or ~/.config/tumbler/.

Some doc: xfce:tumbler:start [Xfce Docs]

I tried looking there and my computer hangs, presumably generating the thumbnails?

If you are still in Thunar (vs using the Terminal), you can turn all thumbnails off for Thunar:

Edit → Preferences → Display, Show thumbnails: Never

The thumbnails are stored in ~/.cache/thumbnails.

Check ~/.xsession-errors and the journal for anything that might indicate an error. It’s not inconceivable that Thunar/tumbler is a victim and not the cause of a failing drive. Checkout smartctl.

That doesn’t answer the questions from my post.

It was a 1TB 2.5" SATA from UltraDisk.
It was internal and configured /etc/fstab to mount on /backup.
When it started malfunctioning I removed it and put a new drive in, then using USB to connect the faulty one and attempt to salvage what I could.

The way i used it was to create a dedicated folder for each lot of pictures coming in from the camera. I would then delete the boring pictures and just view the others as and when, storing any edits elsewhere, so I did not anticipate write operations to be excessive.

Note: The much smaller SSD memory card in the camera would have had just as many writes (when taking the pictures and videos), but that’s still working.

I don’t use Xfce, but I wonder if it generates thumbnails every time for external media? As in, it doesn’t cache the thumbnails. These would not be “writes” to the SSD. The cached thumbnails are written to your main storage device, under $HOME/.cache/thumbnails/

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If it doesn’t, then that’s clearly a bug. Maybe you should contact Thunar people about, they should know.

I have a 8 jear old ssd, a 7 jear old ssd and a 4 jear old nvme all with xfce.
2x2 tb and a 1 tb external hdd and an old 256 gb 2042 m2 that i use as external ssd.
I never encountered or even heard of this and clearly declare this as b.u.l.l.s.h.i.t .
OMG what will baloo then do to plasma ?
People that are afraid of that schouldn’t use any DE and it’s helpers (just uninstall tumbler in this case).

In ancient times we had dev versions, real minimal isos, no tumbler, no volman, …etc. I used them for my old single core netbooks.

  • “In ancient times everything was better, even the future”.

It’s not BS… the drive was new and it’s definitely failed now. All I used it for was images. I accept that I may have been unlucky especially since I had not done a backup for several months (my bad).
I think it’s only fair to question if there was a reason for it failing before it happens again.

This may be off topic but on my website I generate “good enough for page render” reduced images on first access and cache them in a mirror of the entire website folder structure. Given the size of original image files it’s an insignificant overhead yet speeds up internet access significantly. Similar could be done for image thumbnails.

Thank, yes, so it’s not an explanation for the unexpected SSD failure where each and every file has only ever been written once and it was still well below 1TB.

I’m looking at disabling raw image thumbnails because they are clearly a significant overhead and redundant because the camera produces a JPG equivalent with each one anyway, but editing the tumbler xdg file did not change that.

I use Thunar and PCManFM. Both load thumbnails into cache. I’ve never seen any issues with my SSDs when doing this. That said, since image files are so small and I don’t wish to lose them, I store pictures and music files on Red label WD drives. If hosting data on the interwebs, then I highly recommend high quality HDDs in a RAID configuration for speed and data loss prevention.

I apologize for not being able to actually help with diagnosing why your drive failed. I have two servers using SSDs to constantly write video files as both systems are running Motion servers. my desktop machine only uses SSD for / and /home and important files are moved to HDD after creation.