Do you like your data storage plentiful and cheap or faster and safer? This guide will help you make a more informed choice during your purchase.
Solid State Drives (SSDs)
Until recently, personal computer buyers had little choice on the type of storage they could buy for their computer or laptop. People who purchased ultraportable devices had Solid State Drives (SSD) as the primary storage. All the other devices including laptops and desktops featured hard drives (HDD) as the main storage. But today, you can easily configure your system with an SSD or a HDD, or at times both of them. To make a better choice, you have to understand how the two function and their main differences.
SSDs do functionally all things that hard drives do. However, they install data on interconnected flash memory chips, which retain the stored data including when power is not present. The manufacturers can permanently install the chips on the hard drive’s mother board, in a box that is sized, wired and shaped to slot in for personal computers hard drives or on PCI Express (PCIe) card (in the high end workstations and bleeding-edge consumer systems. The flash memory chips are available in more types than those used in USB thumb drives. They are also faster and more reliable than HDDs. SSDs are more expensive than the USB thumb drives of same capabilities.
Hard Drive Types
Generally, the market offers two types of hard drives – solid state drives (SSDs) and Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). SDDs are extremely fast but are extraordinarily expensive. To get a quality SDD, you might need to pay triple the amount you would have paid to get a HDD of similar capacity. SDDs are also safer because they do not have moving parts. However, you can live with a HDD provided that you will not treat it like maracas when transferring files. If durability is very important to you, or you travel a lot, you should consider drivers that boast ruggedness. The drives have reinforced exterior for more added protection.
SSD vs HDD – Pros and Cons of an SSD
Both SSDs and HDDs do the same job: they boot computer systems, store computer data and personal files. However, each type of data storage has its features. Which are the main differences between the two types and why you would need to consider one type over the other?
SSDs are expensive than HDDs in terms of cost per gigabyte. To buy a 1TB internal 2.5 inch HDD, you will need between $40 and $50 but to purchase an SDD with similar capacity and form factor, you will need over $250. In other words, you will have to pay 4 to 5 cents per gigabyte when buying a hard drive and 25 cents per gigabyte when buying an SSD.
Hard drives utilize older more established technology and they are therefore likely to remain less expensive in years to come. The extra hundreds for SSDs may increase the price of your computer system over your budget.
Hard drives are also available in larger quantity, they are cheap and you can find them in many old systems. On the other side, SSDs are more prevalent in the recently released personal computers. Nevertheless, some of the popular models come with HDDs.
And because hard drives highly rely on their spinning platters, the manufacturers have a limit on the minimum size they can produce. Earlier, there were initiatives to produce smaller 1.8-inch hard drives but that stalled at around 320GB because smartphone and tablet manufacturers settled on flash memory as the primary storage. SSDs have no limitations and might continue shrinking as time goes by. Manufacturers have already produced SSDs for 2.5 inch laptops drive sized boxes – that is only for convenience purposes. And because laptops are likely to become slimmer in the future and tablets are taking over the main platforms in Web Surfing, the adoption of SSDs is likely to skyrocket.
Actually, even the quietest hard drives produce noise when they start spinning or the arm starts moving. And if your device is improperly installed or it is banged about, it is more likely to produce more noise. Faster hard drives are known to make more noise than the slower ones. An SSD will not make any noise. SSDs are non-mechanical.
And SSDs do not expend electricity spinning up the platter from standstill. They do not waste any energy in form of noise or friction. That alone, makes them more efficient than their counterparts. In a server or a desktop computer, that will lead to lower energy bills at the end of the month. On laptops or tablets, the users are able to eke out additional hours or minutes of battery life.
Overall, a hard drive will win on capacity, price and availability. On the other hand, SSDs work better if ruggedness, speed, form factor, fragmentation or noise is important.
How Important Is Drive Speed?
Drive speeds are vital. Most modern processors are faster and they are likely to match the speed of drives. Each time you are waiting for your personal computer to complete a task, higher chances are that the drive is holding things up. However, you should remember that there are two main ways of measuring the drive speed: the access time – the length of time it takes to find a file- and the transfer rate – the total time it takes to write/read a file after the system finds it.
If you need a computer that starts faster, the access time should be your first consideration. That is because your computer has many files that the system has to find and which are relatively small. Actually, SSDs are on the higher end when it comes to performance. Their access times are around 100 times faster than that of the typical hard drives. To get a quality SSD, you should be ready to dig deeper into your pocket.
Capacity is an easier concept to understand. Manufacturers rate SDDs according to their overall storage. The storage capacity of SSDs is far much lower than that of the traditional hard drives. Even though the cost of storage per every gigabyte has been dropping constantly, they are still expensive. If you need to get more storage for a lower price, you might need to buy a hard disk.
Solid state drives are faster than hard disks. In addition to that, they will always be ready to go when the user is ready. A large percentage of the SSDs in the market offer instant load performance, which means that they have faster boot times, fast application loading times in addition to better system responsiveness.
SSDs employ Power Loss Protection mechanism to prevent data loss in event of power loss. The SSD can still work including when the power goes down. However, if the power loss happens to cause damages to the NAND Flash, your personal data will be unreliable. There will be no risk or problem when your SSD is working as the second drive. However, when it is working as the master drive, there will be a huge risk of losing your operating system data unexpectedly, particularly when your equipment’s maintenance is not convenient for mission-critical applications.
Just like hard disk drives, SSDs are likely to wear out with time. But unlike hard disks, SSDs have software that helps the user predict failure with time. They can therefore take steps to reduce chances of data loss. The user is able to read the data stored in the drive including when it has failed. What’s more, you can configure an SSD to save the stored data in their cache memory if unexpected power loss occurs.
As you have already seen, SSDs do not feature moving parts. Therefore, they require lesser power to operate. In other words, you should expect longer battery life and quieter operation. Furthermore, they have a longer lifespan.
SSDs have no moving parts. So, your personal data will remain safe in even you drop your computer on a hard space or an earthquake shakes your computer while it is operating. Mostly, hard drives park their write/read heads whenever you switch your system off but whenever they are in operation, they will be flying over the computer’s drive platter at a few nanometers distance. You will agree with me that even your vehicle’s parking brakes have their limits. If you are among the people who are not careful with their devices, you should consider an SSD.
Are SSDs Right For You?
A solid state drive (SSD) will make a big difference in your computer. It will change the performance of your computer, the loading speed and will enhance the safety of your personal data. Actually, the computer will perform exactly how you expect it to do in those busy days. In other words, you will always start your work without delays.
External vs. Internal
The main difference between an external and internal SSD is that an external SSD communicates through USB or a similar cable protocol while an internal SSD connects through SATA. SATA 6 stands for 6 GB/s. In addition, the two share the same transfer speeds but the external SSDs have slightly lower caps on transfer rates.
Read More Our Review on SanDisk Extreme 510 Portable SSD
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