SSD vs HDD: Pros and Cons
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These days SSDs are getting plenty of attention and a lot of people recommend using them instead of good old spinning disks. But is it a good idea to make the change already? Or not just yet?
What is an SSD?
First of all, I’d like to remind you what SSDs are. Basically, a solid-state drive (SSD) is a data storage device that uses solid-state memory to store data. It emulates a hard disk drive interface, thus easily replacing it in most applications. Most SSDs use NAND flash memory.
Hard disk failures happen all the time. A lot of stories have been told about how data was lost and what agony it was to retrieve it. Why do HDDs fail? Because of wear and tear – after all, they have mechanical components that can break, just like a car.
A flash-based SSD doesn’t have that issue. It has no moving parts, therefore there is no wear and tear. Having no mechanical parts make SSDs immune to physical vibration, shock, and extreme temperatures. For example, nothing will happen to an SSD if you drop it. It is their ability to work in extreme conditions that makes them very attractive for military use.
However, they have their own problem. The NAND flash memory endurance cycles are still too low. That’s why data retention is much shorter than with conventional hard drives.
You can prolong the lifetime of your SSD by either using good quality SSD optimization software or be simply leaving it alone. Never-ever use traditional disk defragmenters on your SSD unless you want it to pack up way before its time. Defragmentation uses up precious write cycles and reduces the lifetime of your disk.
Speed is the main advantage of a solid-state drive. SSDs offer blazing-fast performance being 100 times faster than HDDs. This incredible speed difference is due to a much shorter access time (less than a millisecond for an SSD compared to 17 - 18ms). If you want a big performance gain, switch to an SSD.
Another advantage of SSDs is that they make computers blissfully quiet, since there are no spinning platters to make that typical grinding noise you hear when your hard disk retrieves data.
But then again, you need to keep in mind that NAND flash memory never gets better in performance over time – only worse.
Price and Size Matter
Price per GB and capacity are the two main disadvantages of solid-state drives. They still are a lot smaller than traditional hard drives, which means that you simply won't have a lot of disk space. This means that you will have to take extra care and manage your SSD space more effectively. A program like Folder Size will help you do just that by letting you review the size of your files and folders. But basically you'll need to think twice when you download something or install huge software, and you'll need to pay attention to maintenance, such as disk cleanup, duplicate files removal (any duplicate file finder will do - Easy Duplicate Finder, Auslogics Duplicate File Finder, Duplicate Cleaner, you name it).
SSDs are not that popular yet because they are really expensive. Most people are not prepared to pay extra $200–300 for a laptop just because it comes with a solid-state drive.
Solid-state drives are not going to replace hard drives yet, not until their price drops and they match HDDs in size. But if for you speed gain is crucial and spending more money is not a big issue, SSDs are a way to go.
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