Solid State Drives: A Beginner’s Guide

solid state drive

Solid State Drives, or SSD drives are quickly becoming the go-to storage solution in laptops and desktop computers due to their lightning-fast performance and lower costs than that of conventional hard drives. Solid state is the storage technology of the future, and it’s only a matter of time before they replace your regular hard drive.

What Is A Solid State Drive?

A Solid state drive is a kind of storage that sports electronic circuitry built entirely from semi-conductors. The term “solid state” refers to the block of circuitry within, which is different from the conventional hard disk drive’s rotating magnetic media.

One might think that USB drives or flash drives are of the solid state variety, and the answer is yes. Thumb drives and SSD drives both store data in the same manner and are built almost the same way. The only notable exception is that the storage capacity of the SSD is larger as compared to a USB stick.solid state drives

There are 2 types of flash memory- one is MLC, or multi-level cell and the other is SLC, or single level cell. Consumer SSDs are typically made from MLC technology, and this enables the storage to write more data on memory cells within the electronic circuitry.

SLC type solid state drives are more for server solutions as they last longer and are a bit more reliable than their MLC counterparts.

How Does A Solid State Drive Work?

Since an SSD is made up of one huge block of electronic circuitry it doesn’t have any rotating or moving parts whatsoever. The technology behind the SSD is that it stores data inside the circuitry via flash or NAND memory to hold the data even when the laptop is turned off.

A solid state drive’s performance is faster as compared to conventional HDDs as they can access data much faster. Also, the lack of moving parts make SSDs a more durable option than a standard hard disk drive.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solid State Drives Versus Conventional Hard Drives

Now you may be wondering if having your computer upgraded from a standard hard disk drive to a solid state drive is necessary. Is it an absolute must-have or a game-changer? What does it have that’s better than an HDD? Are there any disadvantages whatsoever?

Advantages

  • Faster Boot Speed. If start up time is of the essence for you, then make the move to upgrade to a solid state drive. The difference in boot up time is massive- where a conventional hard drive normally takes about a minute or so to get you to the operating system, a solid state drive can get you to your desktop in as little as 15 seconds! So instead of tapping your feet impatiently and waiting for your computer to load, an SSD cuts on the wait time and saves you precious minutes in the process.
  • Zero Moving Parts. A typical hard drive will need to rotate at a certain speed (RPM) to deliver you the data, whereas a solid state drive contains no moving parts at all. While at first glance it doesn’t seem to signify anything, think about it for a second. Devices that have moving parts are more prone to heat up, and battery life and overall durability are compromised over time. Without moving parts, an SSD normally lasts longer because it doesn’t heat up as much and the lack of moving mechanisms make it less likely to break.
  • Data Integrity. Don’t you hate it when your HDD fails and you lose the ability to gain access to the files stored on that device? End Life file integrity is basically non-existent if you’re on a hard drive, but in SSD it works a bit differently. A crash in a hard disk drive means it’s essentially a paperweight, but with a solid state drive you simply lose the ability to write in more files. The existing ones are safe and you’ll be able to extract them or move them to another drive.
  • SSDs Are Tough And Durable. Because a solid state drive doesn’t have moving parts and all the NAND tech are solidly fused together, they are more durable as compared to regular hard drives. In some cases SSDs have been dropped from buildings, thrown across great distances, used as hockey pucks and run over by vehicles, and at the end of each situation they still work like a charm!
  • Environmental Factors. Not only are SSD drives tough, they also work even when subject to extreme temperature and environmental conditions such as force and shock. Top-end solid state drives will still function when you’re working at an altitude of 10,000 feet, in 90% humidity and in between temperatures of -20 to 85 degrees Celsius. The bottom line is that they can withstand more pressure and hotter or colder environments better than a conventional hard drive.

Disadvantages

  • More Expensive. As of the moment, solid state drives are significantly more expensive as compared to a regular HDD. But the good news is that the more the technology matures the lower the entry price goes, so it’s just a matter of time before SSDs are about the same price as a regular hard drive. Opting for a larger capacity space in a solid state drive is relatively more expensive as compared to the same capacity on a hard disk drive.

Quality of Solid State Drives

If solid state drives are that much better than conventional drives, then why aren’t all computer manufacturers and laptop models getting it? As of the moment the reason is cost. A solid state drive’s performance, longevity, quality and durability are all better than a regular HDD, but they don’t play well with a budget-minded individual.

As technology grows and as solid states become more common, the demand will grow and the price naturally goes down. What’s more, SSDs beat out conventional drives in terms of file security and safety, which can be the deciding factor for those who don’t want to lose their precious data over time.

Solid state drives are worth the investment if you’re looking for a reliable, durable and quality storage option. The peace of mind that you get when you have it installed in your laptop computer is definitely worth the price of entry!