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Five Reasons To Use A Solid State Hard Drive

SSDs- Solid State Drives-are here to stay. And while they may not quite have as much storage space as standard hard drives yet, they're certainly catching up fast. But why should you bother using one over more traditional hard drives?

Durability

Here's the first, most obvious one: Solid State drives are far more durable than your run of the mill hard drive. See, the problem with standard HDDs is that they're composed of moving parts. The best analogy for how a traditional hard drive works would have to be a record player. Instead of playing music, it's recording data to an alloy by  magnetizing it. This alloy takes the form of a circular disc or series of circular discs, and can spin at rates from 3,000 RPM to 15,000 RPM (Wikipedia). Now, what do you suppose would happen if you bumped or moved this array while it was running?

Simply jarring your computer while it's running can cause your hard drive to become damaged, resulting in permanent data loss. Solid State drives don't have that problem. Intel put together a neat little video on the subject. It does a rather excellent job of driving the point home.

Oh, SSDs also generate less heat and are less susceptible to demagnetization. 

Speed

Believe it or not, SSDs are getting to the point that a lot of them are actually quite a bit faster than your run of the mill HDD.  Samsung's 256 gigabyte 470 series SSD has a write speed of 250 MBps and 220 MBps and boasts system startup times of 15 seconds or less. And this was released last year. Fact is, SSDs far surpass HDDs in this department.

But why is that?

HDDs need some time to start spinning, for one. SSDs don't have that problem- the data's instantly available to them. There are no mechanical components that need to align themselves in order to read or write data, either- it can instantaneously be accessed from wherever it might be on the SSD.

Potential Longevity

Okay, this is a tricky one. As with any device that consists of moving parts or mechanical components, eventually a computer hard drive may break down and stop working. The lack of any mechanical components and increased durability means that, particularly in laptop computers, SSDs potentially have a much longer service life than typical HDDs- with much more reliable data storage. True, they have limited read/writes, but this is made up for by the increased resistance to damage mentioned previously. 

Power Efficiency

There are quite a few SSDs that draw significantly less power than standard HDDS- about one half to one third the amount of energy is required to run a solid state drive. There are a few out there that have the same power draw as a standard HDD, but the majority have reached the point that they use less energy. 

 

 

Noise Reduction

This isn't a particularly game breaking advantage, but some people would consider it a definite plus- compared to HDDs, solid state drives are effectively completely silent. There's not much else to say here, really. 

Advantages Of HDDs

To be fair, your run of the mill hard drives have a few things going for them over their more advanced brethren.The chief advantage is cost. Solid state drives are bloody expensive, and can go for anything from about two hundred to over a thousand dollars. Granted, you get increased durability and better data storage, but it's still a pretty big hit to your wallet.

Second, most SSDs have a limited number of reads/writes- the number varies based on the model of SSD; and there's no word on whether or not they do last longer than SSDs.

Finally, we have storage space. The largest SSD that will be available to consumers is Intel's 600 gb SSD, which will release sometime this year.  There do exist solid state drives of up to 2 TB in capacity- Foremay shipped one such model back in 2010. But like many of Foremay's products, that's not meant for the public. So, in terms of what consumers have access to...hard drive discs have the upper hand in storage space. For now. 

Final Word

Like it or not, SSDs are the future of computing. Eventually, as with every new technology, the means of production will catch up with the technology being produced, making them more affordable, more powerful,l and more widespread. Perhaps within the next decade, we might see the day where SSDs are an industry standard, and HDDs go the way of the floppy disc. Until that time, the price of SSDs is a major sticking point for a lot of people. 

Thus, until the prices on SSDs drop, what might be the best bang for your buck is to buy a small SSD to load your OS and important programs onto, and then use an additional HDD for file storage. This combination will allow for a large storage capacity combined with superb load times.

 

Comments
Apr 2, 2011
by Anonymous

You are wrong about durability.

"The lack of any mechanical components to be worn down and increased durability means they've got a far longer service life than any HDD you might find. "

This is incorrect. SSDs actually have less durability due to the limited number of write cycles that the chips can handle before wearing out. That's right, if you use them too much, they wear out, whereas an old school HDD has unlimited reads and writes.

The problem with the limited read/write feature of SSDs is that all manufacturers will acknowledge this fact, but they will never give you meaningful specs to use when deciding if SSD is for you.

I defy you to find a single SSD manufacturer that will say anything like "our drives will last x months or years under typical use" and actually define what typical use is.

The more you use your computer the faster you wear out your SSDs.

How long will they last? The manufacturers won't say.

Until they do...I'm not buying.

Apr 2, 2011
by Tech Light

An Update Is In Order

Interesting. Seems my sources were incorrect. Though it's longevity, not durability, that I'm incorrect about- what I've said about durability still stands. 

Apr 6, 2011
by Anonymous

Yes but

IMHO Durability is only a big factor in Notebooks..

I know so many Computers back from 2000 still running with their old HDs running every day in some offices..

In terms of power efficiency i would really love to know how much the energy used for production differs between hdds and ssds

Apr 6, 2011
by Anonymous

Cost per bit on HDDs will also drop

HDDs are not at the end of their storage density and hence cost per bit. While current technology might only allow another 2X or so increase in density, there are other technologies in the future such as heat-assisted writes that will allow greater densities still. In fact, there may be greater potential for higher storage densities in HDDs than in SDDs.