Chances are you’ve probably been hearing about the impending takeover of solid state drives for some time now. But finally it seems all of that buzz is poised to come true. With all of the kinks worked out of the technology and only blisteringly fast speeds remaining, upgrading to SSD feels like moving from a regular old cell phone to a smart phone. That is, like you’re stepping away from a clunkier, slower past into the faster, more powerful future.
What is a SSD?
The main difference between solid state drives and traditional hard disk drives is that SSDs use purely flash memory while traditional hard drive disks run via moving parts. While CPUs and RAM are significantly faster in new PCs, there’s just a physical limit on how fast the heads in traditional hard drives can spin to access data. Not so when working with data in flash, which can be stored anywhere and read with very little latency. This imbues SSD with a number of benefits.
Not surprisingly, faster access to data means just about everything on an SSD runs more quickly. SSD computers boot in about seven seconds, and they’re able to launch applications soon thereafter. This makes SSD a must-have for users who reboot often or multi-task across many different programs at once. Data transfer is rapid as well, allowing for quick transfer of big files like movies, music and photos between all of your devices. And, because data can be stored anywhere, disk fragmentation just doesn’t seem to happen either.
Endurance, Power and Sound
SSDs use power much more efficiently than traditional hard drives. This affords the SSD-powered laptop longer battery life, makes for more fluid multi-tasking, and better enables work with even very heavy workloads. And because there are no moving parts, SSDs are just really quiet, too.
Who is SSD good for?
As often occurs at the front edge of technology trends, the price of being an early adopter is, well, a price. SSDs are significantly more expensive than their traditional counterparts and they provide a low amount of storage, meaning another external hard drive may be a necessity for some users. What’s more, larger SSDs are faster than their smaller counterparts (i.e. 256 GB drives run significantly faster than 64GB drives), so you’ll have to pay for the fastest results.
Because of these current limitations (which won’t necessarily stick around in future generations), it’s best to think of SSD as your boot drive for running programs and accessing files you use frequently, while relying on extra external HD for bigger files like movies, music and photos you don’t access often.
Overall, SSD is a must-have option for people who multi-task and work on slow to load applications. Anyone who uses Adobe Photoshop will be over the moon for SSD, as will movie makers, engineers, and anyone who regularly uses programs that require a lot of power. For people who spend the majority of their computer time using web apps, writing in basic programs or checking email, SSD may be overkill until the price comes down. While you will see faster load times on Microsoft Word, Outlook, and any other basic program, the few seconds of benefits won’t be worth it for the money.
One note: if you do decide on adding SSD capabilities onto your current laptop or desktop rather than upgrading your entire computer, then make sure your current hardware is recent enough to be compatible, as many older models will not be.
Solid State Hard Drives are completely worth both the wait and the hype. They’re fast, reliable, durable, powerful and just plain cool. If you can afford the best SSD technology, then go for it now. If you can’t, just wait a few years. SSD is sure to be the technology of the future.