Solid state drives… more commonly referred to as SSD’s in the computing world, have finally arrived in practical sizes that are affordable for everyone. They are a direct replacement for your current laptop or desktop’s hard drive, and you don’t have to start from scratch. Your current operating system installation is cloned to the new SSD and with a few tweaks, it is optimized for the SSD and your computer is ready for use. Now for a little history, and why this wasn’t possible 10 years ago.
For years, the size and cost of an SSD prevented them from being used in real world applications. 16 and 32 GB drives have been around for a while, but we are trying to run operating systems, not put a memory card in your grandparents digital camera. Do you remember the cute little netbooks that premiered with 10 inch screens and solid state drives? They were tiny, barely enough space to install the operating system, let alone let you install any programs. They were a fad that everyone had to be a part of, then a few years later tablets killed them off. There are a lot of pros, and very few, if any cons to using a solid state drive as your system drive. Let’s take a minute to reflect on the cons of traditional magnetic spinning disk drives.
A traditional spinning disk drive uses round platters for the magnetic storage with read heads that spin at various speeds ranging from 5400 to 15,000 RPM. They are very sensitive to shock, heat, and cold. If you were to drop a laptop, the laptop itself may get banged up, but it will probably survive. The hard drive has a very high chance of crashing, which has been a problem for years. In a laptop configuration, traditional drives are power hogs that drain your battery and limit your mobility. Seek time is a big factor of the speed of traditional drives. Seek time being the time it takes the read head to locate the file on the platter and access it. Lastly, because of all the moving parts and seek speed, the read/write speed of a traditional drive is on average between 50-100 MegaBytes/Second. This is between 4 and 5 times slower than an SSD, which has a read/write of 400-500 MB/Sec. Enough about the old, lets get to the new.
SSD’s don’t have read heads, platters, or any moving parts. This makes them very durable and while they aren’t bulletproof, they are very shock resistant. Since they have no moving parts, this makes seek time virtually non-existent, and power consumption very low. Files load faster, and your battery lasts longer on your laptop. They only come in 2.5″ size (Laptop size). For use in a desktop, they require a 3.5″ tray adapter to allow them to fit the standard cases that traditional desktops accept. The adapter is less than $10 dollars for most applications. They have very long life, usually rated in the 30 year range depending on the type of solid state memory chips that are used.
Size and cost per GB are still a slight limitation as a 250GB SSD is around $110 and a 512GB is around $200. In a desktop configuration, after cloning the system drive to the SSD, the best use for the old drive is to use it as a secondary storage drive. Store the stuff you don’t use often on the bigger traditional drive, and run all of your programs and store frequently used files on the SSD. In a laptop configuration, I have found that in most cases, 250GB is more than enough space to run and store everything.
Bottom line, I have installed a ton of these as direct replacements for traditional hard drives. It doesn’t matter if it is a low end laptop you purchased on black Friday, or a high performance desktop you built from scratch. An SSD is going to make it boot completely into Windows in the 15 to 20 second range. This means from completely powered off, to booted and ready to run programs. All SSD’s are not created equal, there are low priced and high priced ones. I have experimented with both, and they will all blow you away when you switch from a traditional drive. If you use your computer for everyday web surfing, shopping, email, etc., then a lower end SSD would most likely work for you. Gamers and video/audio editors might want to spend a little extra for maximum performance.
Thanks for reading, if anyone is interested in making the switch to an SSD please contact me via phone, social media, or through my website http://www.ericparkerconsulting.com. The process doesn’t take long and the end game is amazing.
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