Solid State Hard Drives are the way to go!
What is a SSD?
A solid state drive is a storage device that stores data persistently using integrated circuit assemblies as memory. A storage device containing nonvolatile flash memory, used in place of a hard disk, because of its much greater performance.
What are the differences of a SSD vs Traditional HD?
Hard disk drives have been the traditional form of computer storage for years, making them relatively ancient technology in certain scenerio’s. They use magnetism to store data on stacked platters that spin around a disk, called a spindle. Information is read from and written to the HDD via a read/write head that is positioned above the spinning platters. Think of a traditional record player and placing the head on the “platter” to “read” the music.
Solid State Drives use flash memory to store data. They have no moving parts; instead of using read and write heads and platters, SSD’s have interconnected integrated circuits with an interface connector. The performance difference depending on the quality of the SSD can be up to 100x faster than a traditional Hard Disk Drive.
What makes Solid State Drives better than Hard Disk Drives?
Solid State Drives have several advantages over hard disk drives as detailed below:
Speed: The spinning platters and read and write heads in traditional HD’s make the process time consuming. Data transfer in SSDs are quicker, particularly, during small data transfers for transaction processing. The worst drives on the market are 10x faster than traditional HD’s.
Latency: Data transfer in HDD’s is sequential, which means that the read/write heads must ‘seek’ appropriate points on the platters to execute operations. This seek time can contribute to latency. Conversely, data transfer in SSDs is accessed randomly and physical location of data is irrelevant, thus reducing latency and contributing to overall speed.
Fragmentation: HDD’s can suffer from fragmentation when large files are stored scattered around the platters. This can affect read and write algorithms, requiring HDD’s to be defragmented monthly. In SSD’s however, drive performance is not affected by fragmentation, making them faster and eliminating the need for defragmenting. Our next blog will be about optimizing SSD’s.
Reliability: The rapid movement of platters and read and write heads in HDD’s can cause head crashes in the event of electronic or power failures, physical shocks or vibration, wear and tear, corrosion, or poor manufacturing. SSDs are more reliable than HDDs as there’s no risk of mechanical failure. SSD’s however are also not a perfect technology and depending on the quality of the drive, some can fail faster than others.
Vibration and Noise: The spinning platters and read and write heads can cause HDD’s to vibrate and humming and clicking noises. SSD’s are virtually noiseless as they are non-mechanical.
Heat Generation: HDD’s use more electricity due to moving parts, thereby generating more heat. As SSD’s don’t have moving parts, they consume less power and generate comparatively less heat.
Durability: The moving parts in HDD’s make them vulnerable to damage from sudden jerks, falls, and temperature extremes. SSD’s are more durable even when the device is operating. For demanding applications and harsh environments, consider purchasing drives from an industrial or military SSD manufacturers.
Failure Rate: Failure rates for both drives are almost similar, but SSD’s are better than traditional HD’s. The mean time between failures in the SSD’s are 2 million hours as compared to 1.5 million hours in the traditional drives.
Types of SSD connections
There are a couple ways to classify SSDs, but we’re going to mention a particularly important factor—the type of connection they use. Connections can broadly be divided into a few different options.
SATA III: This is the final evolution of an older connection option that works with both HDD and SSD. It was very useful during the transition from HDD to SSD. Now that this transition is slowly coming to an end, SATA III connections (which can handle a maximum bandwidth of about 600 megabytes per second) are losing favor.
PCIe: The Peripheral Component Interconnect Express option connects to PCIe lanes in motherboards for a more direct flow of data. Because of this they are speedy, supporting SSD writing speeds around 1GB per second. However, they are currently quite expensive, guaranteed to raise the price of a computer.
NVMe M.2: NVMe or Non-Volatile Memory Express is designed to augment PCIe connections so they are more versatile, easier to upgrade, and generally even faster. NVMe is currently even newer than direct PCIe connections, and so even more expensive, but look for this spec to become common in coming years.
Are there any advantages to using a traditional Hard Disk Drive?
There are two reasons why you would want to use a traditional spinning disk drive. They are somewhat intertwined. Price per storage gigabyte and storage size.
SSD’s are the latest hard drive technology to date. This means to be able to have a SSD the same storage capacity as a traditional drive, expect to pay 10x the price of the traditional drive.
On top of that, they are still making traditional Hard Drives that are currently over 16 Terabytes in size. The biggest SSD on the market today is only 2 Terabytes. That means if storage is your primary focus, you would want to go with the 16 Terabyte drive. Interestingly enough, both drives would probably cost around the same price.
Do SSD’s have any limitations?
While Solid State Drives are better than hard disk drives, they do have certain limitations. However, they can be overlooked considering the many benefits SSD’s have to offer.
A primary disadvantage of SSD’s is that they are expensive than HDD’s in terms of dollar per GB of storage space.
HDD’s are abundant in the market and as such, easy to find. That being said, SSD’s are becoming more available now that the consumer market is leaning toward tablets and compact laptops.
SSD’s available in the market have a limited storage capacity. SSD’s with a storage capacity of 2TB are rare and very expensive.
SSD’s have fewer write cycles compared to HDD’s. In SSD’s, storing data may require erasing existing information and then rewriting new information. As memory cells go through this cycle, they wear out and become useless over time. On the plus side, this does not affect the functioning of the whole drive; the lifespan of SSD’s usually lasts until the consumer-driven lifecycle of the device.
Now that you’ve read about how SSD’s work, how they’re different from and better than HDD’s, and their limitations, you can be sure that they’re the best upgrade for your computer. Since SSD’s are priced higher than HDD’s, you may have to think twice about splurging on them if you’re on a tight budget. Nonetheless, an SSD will pay for itself over the years in the form of savings on electricity, damaged drives, devices, and even work performed!
If you are in the market for a SSD, REAL recommends two specific SSD manufacturers. Depending on the SSD connector you require, check our recommendations below.
SATA III’s drives are the most common used drives in most personal desktops and laptops. Our recommendation would be Samsungs product lines. The best Samsung Sata SSD drive in market today, at time of this blog, is called Samsung 860 Pro. This SSD can cost around $200 depending on storage capacity.
PCIe drives are designed for pure speed. Currently the fastest SSD on the market is a PCIe connector SSD, but this won’t last for long. That title belongs to Intel Optane SSD 905P Series. This SSD goes for over $1,200 currently. If you want the best, this is the way to go, however, the difference between this and the Samsung PRO cards is not dramtically different.
NVMe M.2 type drives are the lastest type of SSD technology on the market. It also will eventually be the fastest as technology evolves. The recommendation for this SSD would be the Samsung SSD 970 PRO series. This card can cost you around $300. Make sure that your system can support this connector before ordering the drives.