Solid State Drive – What is it and Why Do I Need One?

For the past several years, 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?Solid State Drive - Why do I need one?

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. 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 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.  If you’re looking to get a new machine under $500, you will be getting a standard hard drive.

Here’s a great explanation from PC Magazine of how an 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.”

Here are some additional articles that compare SSDs and HDDs:Solid State Drive

Purchasing Recommendations:

When a customer needs to have their machine rebuilt, Chris recommends this internal SSD from Samsung.

Remember that upgrading the standard hard drive in your Mac or PC to a Solid State Drive will make your machine run much faster.  It’s a very affordable upgrade and may make more sense than buying a new computer.  Contact us if you’re thinking of an upgrade. Remember that we can install your new SSD once it arrives as well.

And if you ever need help partitioning your HDD or SSD, give us a call.

Please forward this to your friends who may need a new hard drive in their Mac or PC.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and online streaming.  And I love the Prime Kindle features!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Original post: 28 April 2015

Updated: 11 June 2019

Tech Terms Decoded – CPU

Decoding Tech Terms

Are you as confused as I sometimes am about common Tech Terms?  When Chris talks about RAM and Memory and CPU and gigs of storage, I’m not sure what he is saying. I’ve done some digging to see if I can help explain CPU in non-Tech terms.

Computer Processing Unit or CPU

The CPU is a component in your computer where the actual calculations are carried out.  Here’s a good explanation from TechTerms:

“The CPU is the primary component of a computer that processes instructions. It runs the operating system and applications, constantly receiving input from the user or active software programs. It processes the data and produces output, which may stored by an application or displayed on the screen.

The CPU contains at least one processor, which is the actual chip inside the CPU that performs calculations. For many years, most CPUs only had one processor, but now it is common for a single CPU to have at least two processors or “processing cores.” A CPU with two processing cores is called a dual-core CPU and models with four cores are called quad-core CPUs. High-end CPUs may have six (hexa-core) or even eight (octo-core) processors. A computer may also have more than one CPU, which each have multiple cores. For example, a server with two hexa-core CPUs has a total of 12 processors.”

Which Processor do you have?

For a Mac, click on the Apple in the top left corner, then select “About this Mac”.  Finally, click on “Overview” to see your Processor.

Mac Processor

For a Windows machine, click on the Start menu, then click on Control Panel, and finally select System.

Tech Terms - RAM

 

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 fifteen 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 as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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Tech Terms Decoded – Computer Memory

Decoding Tech Terms

Are you as confused as I sometimes am about common Tech Terms?  When Chris talks about RAM and Memory and gigs of storage, I’m not sure what he is saying. I’ve done some digging to see if I can help explain Computer Memory in non-Tech terms.

Computer Memory Storage

Computer Memory is defined by the techies in two ways.  First of all there is Primary memory or RAM which is highlighted in a previous blog.  Next is Secondary Memory.  And now we all know why we get confused talking about Memory.  The Geeks think Primary storage or RAM.  Normal folk think about where you put your files, which is referred to as “secondary”.

Computer Memory or Secondary Memory: The amount of storage you have in your Hard Drive or Solid Sate drive (or even your SmartPhone)  is what we’ll talk about here. (Read this blog for the difference between a Solid State Drive and a Hard Disk Drive.)  Computer Memory is where you store your files, your photos, and your music.  The more storage you have, the more music you can play!

And, yes, computer memory makes a difference on your SmartPhone too.  One year when I was on vacation, I had to bring my computer to the beach to take the sunrise photos.  My phone had so little storage, that I had to download them to my computer if I took more than 15 pictures!  Needless to say, I could not take videos with that phone.

How Much Storage do I Have?

To find out how much storage your Windows machine has, first click on the Start Menu.  Next click on “Computer”.  Here it will show how much storage you have, and how much is free or available.

Computer Memory - Windows
Computer Memory – Windows

If you want to find out how much storage you have on your Mac, first click on the Apple in the top left corner.  Next select “About This Mac”.  Then click on Storage. You should see something like this with a breakdown on where you are using your computer memory:

Computer Memory - Mac
Computer Memory – Mac

How Much Memory Should I Have?

If you’re constantly having to delete photos or files, you need more!  In general, if you’re buying a new machine, you should have double the amount that you are currently using.  If you need help ordering and installing more computer memory, then click here.

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 fifteen 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 as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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.