What is SSD?
SSD stands for Solid State Drive and is an alternative to a standard hard disk drive. Solid state drives are designed very differently from Standard hard drives we are all use and have more in common with a USB stick than a standard HDD.
A solid state drive is persistent data storage that uses non-volatile flash memory to store the data (even with no power data is retained). A solid state drive contains no moving parts and they are considerably lighter than the standard hard disk drive. SSD drives are also silent due to the fact that there are no moving parts and are much less susceptible to shock when compared with magnetic drives that we have been using for many years.
What is SSD gets asked a lot and I find the easiest way to explain it is to look at its advantages and disadvantages over traditional data storage.
- The seek time on a SSD is significantly faster meaning the drives does run a lot faster than a standard HDD. This can be seen in the speed a computer boots and opens programs. There is an increase in both the time it takes to find data on an SSD and the time it takes to transfer data over standard Hard Disk Drives
- There are also no mechanical parts to go faulty which is a common problem with todays magnetic hard drives. A standard hard drive is at its most basic a disc with a needle and a motor. A SSD drive is a circuit board and therefore eliminates mechanical failures that you get in any device that has moving parts.
- The SSD is silent. No moving parts means no noise.
- A solid state drive will run cooler and draw less power.
- They can work alongside your current hard drives in the form of SSD cache drives meaning you get the performance of an SSD without the need to reinstall a system.
- Your current hard drives would also not be redundant they could be left in as storage meaning that if money is tight you can pick up a Crucial 128 GB Solid State Drive for about $120 and use your current larger drive for storing your photos, videos while using the SSD for the operating system, games and applications.
- The Major problem with an SSD drive is the price. At the time of writing you can pick up a standard Western Digital 1 TB hard drive for about $100 giving you a cost per GB of 0.10. If you pick up Crucial 512GB SSD drive you will be looking around the $400 mark and thats a cost of about 0.80 per GB which is 8x more expensive.
- Although very fast they are sometimes misunderstood by gamers. They will give you a significant boost in the boot up time of your computer and games but they will not necessarily give you a huge boost to your FPS for example. If you are looking at an SSD to improve gaming unless you have money to spare you may be better spending your money on increasing memory, graphics or processor speed as opposed to the hard drive. (You will get a performance increase but it is often debated if the increase you get is worth the expense)
- If you want to convert fully to a SSD this involves reinstalling your operating system and all the software and games which can be a pain for some (If this is an option for you you may find our How to backup your product keys interesting). There are alternatives like the Crucial Adrenaline 50GB Solid State Cache Solution though that dont require a complete reinstall.
SSD drives are the future that looks pretty certain and they are now becoming more mainstream as the price per GB drops below $1. They are no longer considered a geeks upgrade and it won’t be too long before the newer computers come with SSD as standard. Should you rush out and buy one? If you have the money and your current setup is slow or sluggish then it is definitely worth considering as the speed differences can be significant.
It is worth remembering though that a computer’s speed is determined by many factors including memory and the processor. There is no point in sticking an SSD drive in a computer with an ageing processor and 1GB of RAM the benefits will be minimal.
SSD Cache Solutions
If you don’t have the time to reinstall the operating system and software then a SSD cache drive should seriously be considered. I recently added the crucial adrenaline 50 SSD cache drive to an office computer and I am very impressed with the increase in performance .
I did not want the downtime while a lot of software was installed again along with the operating system and all my settings and configuration so a cache drive was the ideal solution for me and is definitely worth looking into.