TO SSD OR NOT TO SSD;
THAT IS THE QUESTION…
Until just a few years ago, PC buyers had little choice about what kind of storage to get in a laptop or desktop PC. If you bought an ultraportable anytime in the last couple of years however, you very likely got a solid-state drive (SSD) as the primary boot drive. They’re typically capable of performing over 4x faster than a conventional hard disk.
Larger laptops are increasingly moving to SSD boot drives, too, while budget machines still tend to favour hard disk drives (HDDs). The boot drives in desktop PCs, meanwhile, are a mishmash of SSDs or HDDs; in some cases, a system comes with both, with the SSD as the boot drive and the HDD as a bigger-capacity storage supplement.
If you have to pick just one, though, how do you choose? Let’s get into the differences between SSDs and HDDs, and walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you decide.
HDD AND SSD EXPLAINED
The traditional spinning hard drive is the basic non-volatile storage on a computer. That is, information on it doesn’t “go away” when you turn off the system, unlike data stored in RAM (Memory). A hard drive is essentially a metal platter with a magnetic coating that stores your data, whether its documents from the last century, a high-definition copy of the original Star Wars trilogy, or your digital music collection. A read/write head on an arm accesses the data while the platters are spinning.
An SSD does functionally everything a hard drive does, but data is instead stored on interconnected flash-memory chips that retain the data even when there’s no power present. These flash chips are of a different type than the kind used in USB thumb drives, and are typically faster and more reliable. SSDs are consequently more expensive than USB thumb drives of the same capacities. Like thumb drives, though, they’re often much smaller than HDDs and therefore offer manufacturers more flexibility in designing a PC. While they can take the place of traditional 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch hard drive bays, they can also be installed in a PCI Express expansion slot or even be mounted directly on the motherboard, a configuration that’s now common in high-end laptops and all-in-ones. (These board-mounted SSDs use a form factor known as M.2. SSD Cards)
WHAT IS A SOLID STATE DRIVE?
When you get down to a base level, an SSD is just some memory chips on a circuit board. It has an In/Out interface, usually in the form of SATA or PCIe, that feeds power and transfers data.
Unlike traditional hard-disk drives (HDD), there is no actuator arm that has to move across a spinning magnetic platter to read or write data. In fact, there are no moving parts at all. Most SSDs instead use NAND flash memory – or superior 3D NAND which is what we use – which is relatively stable and will last for years.
WHY USE AN SSD?
There are a number of reasons why you might want to opt for an SSD in place of a standard HDD.
Laptops can take a beating while they travel with you — having a storage device that isn’t disrupted by bumps is a huge boon. HDDs with their moving parts can be damaged if they’re spinning when the drop or impact happens. SSDs are far less likely to be affected by impacts.
Mobility is a huge part of laptops; SSDs are both smaller and lighter than HDDs. This saves space to include other hardware in the laptop and reduces weight and thickness. SSDs also require less power, so your laptop battery should last longer.
Most people who’ve been using Windows for years know how long boot times can be when using an HDD. Differences in speed loading apps on your PC might be minimal — you probably won’t notice if Office apps load in two seconds rather than four — but using an SSD to boot Windows 10 will significantly cut time spent twiddling your thumbs.
On top of all these perks, SSDs also have a way lower failure rate than HDDs. If you’re backing up important data, it’s never a bad idea to save it on an SSD.
…SO IS AN SSD RIGHT FOR ME?
At the end of the day, if you’re wanting the fastest machine possible and you want to remove the speed bootle-neck that a conventional hard disk suffers from then an SSD is imperative. If you’re looking for to store anything and everything and need the largest space possible to store it, then an SSD isn’t for you – well not yet until the prices of the higher capacity drives come down. There is of course the option to fit an SSD as your main Windows and software drive, and then fit a conventional drive for storage of your user data (photos, documents, videos, music etc), which then gives you the best of both worlds.
Realistically, the key thing here is that a 240GB SSD is usually more than sufficient for most home or business users, and with the addition of cloud storage too, theres plenty of ways to increase that storage for the likes of photos and music.
READY TO UPGRADE?
If you’re still not sure whether an SSD is right for you, then why not pop in or give us a call and we’ll be only too happy to advise, then you too can benefit from the added speed that an SSD brings, even to an older device as an upgrade!
GOT ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS?
Call us in the Repair Centre on 01642 712393 for a chat and we’ll answer any queries you might have
Pop in and have a chat with one of our Technicians who’ll answer any questions you might have