What Is a Solid State Drive and Why Do I Need One?

For the past five years or so, whenever Chris had to replace a hard drive in a Mac or PC, or is designing a new computer for a customer, he always recommends that they get a Solid State Drive (SSD), rather than the traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD).   Why?

First of all, here’s a great explanation from PC Magazine of how a HDD saves your data:

“The traditional spinning hard drive (HDD) is the basic nonvolatile storage on a computer. That is, it doesn’t “go away” like the data on the system memory when you turn the system off. Hard drives are essentially metal platters with a magnetic coating. That coating stores your data, whether that data consists of weather reports from the last century, a high-definition copy of the Star Wars trilogy, or your digital music collection. A read/write head on an arm accesses the data while the platters are spinning in a hard drive enclosure.”

And here’s a description from TechTerms on how the Solid State Drive works:

“While SSDs serve the same function as hard drives, their internal components are much different. Unlike hard drives, SSDs do not have any moving parts (which is why they are called solid state drives). Instead of storing data on magnetic platters, SSDs store data using flash memory. Since SSDs have no moving parts, they don’t have to “spin up” while in a sleep state and they don’t need to move a drive head to different parts of the drive to access data. Therefore, SSDs can access data faster than HDDs.”

For a long time, I just didn’t get it. Why is “newer” always “better” for these geeks?! Chris patiently explained to me some of the benefits.

More Robust:
Because a Solid State Drive has no moving parts, there aren’t any parts to break. This makes the SSD perfect for those who don’t count “grace” as one of their better qualities. It’s also a better choice for frequent travelers

Speed:
SSD’s are faster. I’ve read that they are 100 times faster than HDD’s. Machines with an SSD will boot faster, open programs faster, transfer files faster. Games process more quickly too. When seconds count, choose an SSD.

Lighter:
When you’re lugging a laptop through an airport, you want to shed every excess ounce that you can.  SSD’s weigh slightly less than the HDD’s.

Downside:
SSD’s are more expensive to purchase than HDD’s. But, considering that the SSD will last longer, that’s only a short term problem.

Here are some additional articles on why the SSD is a better choice:
PC Magazine / OCZ / ThinLabs

Purchasing Recommendations:
If you are looking into purchasing a new SSD, C|NET has some great recommendations here.

Once you get your new SSD, we can help you install it – just give us a call!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.