Historically in the past computer manufacturers or users storing files have been restricted mostly to one type of storage device whether it be internal or external. That device is known as a hard disk drive and is named that way because inside of the drive there are metal “platters” that are disk shaped onto which data is written using a needle not unlike a record player from back in the day. The earliest known HDD was from 1956 and was developed by IBM using 24-inch-wide platters that achieved a whole 3.75MB of storage space.
This method has been used for a long time now and during that time was considered the best way to store data although it is not with out it’s flaws. Things such as kinetic shock or physical damage to the unit can cause the head which houses the needle to damage a platter or may cause the head system to stop working altogether.
Heat is probably the number one killer of hard disk drives caused by things such as inadequate ventilation needed for proper cooling or just plainly being overworked.
Despite all their problems hard disk drives have managed to stay around for more than a while and during that time have doubled in capacity millions of times over to the current 10 Terabyte disk drives that can be had by consumers today for a reasonable price.
In recent times there has emerged a comparable storage technology that sheds many of the downsides of the traditional HDD and is quickly becoming in line cost wise with it’s more traditional brother. We are no doubt talking about the solid state drive and the technology at its core, flash memory.
Flash memory is already being used in many devices today that many may not even release. Cell Phones, tablet computers and USB thumb drives all use this type of non moving data storage and they do so with good reason.
Flash memory is far more resistant to kinetic damage as it has no moving parts, unlike a typical hard drive. The heat it produces is also far lower than a traditional hdd and its footprint is a mere fraction of a drive filled with platters can be.
Solid state drives really shine when it comes to their speed. A SSD-equipped computer will literally boot in seconds. Even after your system is booting a hdd has to bring itself up to operating speed before it can begin reading information that you have requested. Solid state drives can theoretically operate instantaneously and make the entire experience of owning a computer a better one.
HDD work best with larger files laid in contiguous blocks as the head can continuously read the file at speed. The problem is that the more a drive gets used and the more data that gets added something called fragmentation starts to occur. Fragmentation happens when one file gets spit up around the platter from repetitive saves and transfers of the file in question along with others and will slow down a drive dramatically. SSDs do not encounter fragmentation and do not care where the data is located, its speed will remain unaffected during such scenarios.
Another advantage to solid state storage over a traditional hard disk drive is noise. HDDs will make noise no matter how quiet the manufacturer claims them to be because they have moving parts, and those moving parts are operating at very high speeds. SSDs make absolutely no noise at all, cutting down on rachet in your home or office setting.
The main and possibly only downside to going with Flash memory over a standard hard drive is price. Historically the cost of Flash memory has been substantially higher than hard disk drives. Capacity limitations are also something to consider with SSD maxing out at around 4TB currently while a HDD up to 10TB can be had. Experts say though that this issue is quickly disappearing as capacities increase and costs are brought down. It is suspected that Flash memory will actually become cheaper to consumers that hard disk drives sometime in 2016 with capacities breaking even between the two types of devices.
With all the potential upsides to replacing your standard HDD with a SSD is to argue that it is a bad move. If price is holding you back you may just have to wait a bit longer for the prices to equalize but whether you buy now or buy then it is no doubt you are making the smarter purchase to protect your data and cut time and noise out of your life.