Perhaps you have never even heard of an SSD (Solid State Drive). Don’t worry, that isn’t really important thankfully. All you really need to know is that swapping your traditional HDD (Hard Disk Drive) for an SSD will deliver you about a 40% increase in overall performance. Startups and shutdowns will happen at least twice as quickly and waiting for documents to open or save will be a thing of the past.
So why or how do SSDs deliver such a performance boost? It’s really a matter of simple physics. A traditional HDD is made up of thin round magnetized platters that spin around really quickly while a set of heads float just above the surface reading and writing the data. Even though these platters spin very quickly (somewhere between 4200 rotations per minute up to a maximum of 10000 rotations per minute) there is a physical limit to just how fast they can turn before the platters just fly apart. SSDs don’t have any moving parts – no spinning required! They are made up of flash memory chips kind of like a USB memory stick but much faster and more reliable. Because there is no spinning required to find a place to store or retrieve your information, the whole process is much much faster. As an added bonus, since there are no moving parts, SSDs are completely silent – compare that to the ticking and humming of a traditional HDD. SSDs are also generally considered to be more durable than HDDs but I don’t recommend performing any drop tests just to prove that theory out.
Ok so what’s the catch? You knew there had to be one didn’t you? Well first of all, SSDs are relatively expensive when compared to HDDs. The average dollar per Gigabyte for a traditional HDD currently runs between 8 and 15 cents. Compare that to the roughly 65 cents per Gigabyte for an SSD. Because of the price premium of SSDs, common sizes tend to range between 120GB and 500GB compared to HDDs which are usually found between 500GB and 2000GB.
In an attempt to combat the cost of an SSD but still enjoy the performance benefit, people often purchase a smallish SSD and use it as their Windows/Mac boot drive and keep their larger HDD for storing everything else. This is an excellent solution for desktop style computers which can usually accommodate an additional internal drive but this solution doesn’t work for most laptops since they are limited to just one internal drive. Laptop users who want the performance boost of an SSD are usually forced to replace their larger HDD with a smaller SSD and forfeit a bit of storage space. I don’t want to overstate the space issue. Unless you routinely carry around all twelve seasons of Two and a Half Men and all ten seasons of The Big Bang Theory and an additional 40-50 HD movies, I don’t think downsizing will be much of an issue for you. And for those times when you really really need some extra storage on the go, you can simply drag along your external USB drive.
Most SSDs are packaged just like a standard 2.5” laptop HDD so installing or swapping them is a relatively easy task if you changed an internal drive before. If not, don’t worry, we would be happy to assist you with the process. If you want more information on Solid State Drives or any other technical topic, please feel free to contact me, Wayne Matthews at: