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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.