Solid state drive (SSD) is a data storage device that stores data persistently on solid state flash memory. It functions similar to a hard disk drive except that it is neither an actual disk nor a mechanical drive with a read/write head. It can be likened to a flash drive or memory card with a few differences. It also has certain advantages over traditional HDD.
SSD Is Better Than HDD
And that’s a fact. Based on construction alone, it is clear that SSDs have certain advantages over HDDs.
- 1. Non-mechanical construction translates to durability
A hard drive is made up of moving parts, such as a spinning disk, read and write head, and an actuator, complete with an arm and axis. As all these mechanical parts work, they become susceptible to shock and damage over time. When this happens, an HDD would operate at a less-stellar level.
A solid state drive, on the other hand, follows a non-mechanical design made up of NAND Flash memory mounted on a circuit board that is resistant to shock of up to 1500g/0.5ms. The absence of moving parts makes an SSD more durable than an HDD.
When shaken about in a bag or during an earthquake, an SSD also has higher chances of surviving than an HDD, what with its moving parts that are likely to be tossed about and dislodged when shaken hard enough.
- 2. Versatile form factors
Fitted with a spinning platter, there is a limit as to how small a hard drive can go. This limitation is non-existent with an SSD, which is why it is the primary choice for laptop and notebooks. It can fit in a 2.5-inch laptop drive-sized boxes. But, as notebooks become slimmer and tablets become the first choice for web surfing, SSDs can easily adopt.
- 3. Higher cap on capacity
The biggest data storage device as of this writing is a 4-terabyte SSD. HDD has long tapped out of the competition at 500GB as a base back in 2015. But due to price concerns it went down to 128GB instead. It is clear that an SSD is what you need, if you want plenty of real estate for music, video, photos and other files.
- 4. Faster performance
As parts of an HDD wear off, its performance will follow suit. So if you ever wondered why your old desktop took forever to boot after years of use, your hard drive is the likely culprit. It also requires time to reach speed at operating specs.
Because an SSD doesn’t use a read/write head to operate, it will boot faster. Like, in seconds or under a minute. It also employs the same speed under normal use, such as launching apps or switching between apps. Suffice to say that its overall performance in terms of speed is fast.
- 5. No fragmentation involved
You’ve probably defragmented your hard drive in the hope that it will operate faster. It probably worked the first few times, but not when the problem stems from the mechanical parts. There’s little hope for something better under the circumstances.
SSDs don’t have a physical read/write head, so it really doesn’t care which chip the data is stored in. Data, especially large files, doesn’t scatter as well, so no fragmentation happens. If you use an SSD, leave that “defragment drive” tool alone.
- 6. Quiet in operation
Desktop users do get used to the whirring sound that a hard drive makes, with some blaming it on the fan. But if you use an SSD, you won’t hear noise coming from it. Again, this has something to do with the absence of mechanical parts.
The only downside to a solid state drive is the price. An SSD with the biggest storage capacity remain rare and eye-watering expensive. The rest costs more than an HDD based on a dollar per GB. An SSD with the same capacity as a 50-dollar HDD, for example, could cost twice as much.
Technology Behind the Speed and Power
If SSD doesn’t have a physical read/write head, how does it store and read data then?
- Flash Memory
This is one of the nonvolatile memories that erase data by units called blocks. It comes in two types NOR and NAND, with the latter being more compact, with greater storage capacity, and best suited for serial data access. Since a solid state drive uses NAND flash memory, it performs faster and better, stays cooler and is more reliable. In fact, it only has an annual failure rate of tenths of 1%.
- Wear Leveling
This process helps extend the life of an SSD, as it ensures the program/erase cycles are distributed evenly. Every microchip in a solid state storage stores data in blocks, which has a finite number of program/erase cycles, such as 100,000 program/erase cycles for an SLC NAND flash. By distributing this evenly, the rate of 100,000 would take a very long time to reach.
- Flash Controller
Flash controller is part of the flash memory that manages wear leveling, garbage collection, error correction, the flash file system directory, and communicates with the host device. Most consumer-grade SSDs have generic controllers, but enterprise SSDs have proprietary controllers.
These are just some of the technologies used to make an SSD work and take the lead in its race with HDD. This is why, despite the high price, solid state drive remains a first choice for a lot of people, and laptop and data storage device manufacturers.
And why not? Facts and figures speak for themselves, after all. WD, for example, a leading provider of storage products, announced in April 2015 that its revenue from enterprise SSD has grown 67% year over year. The same is true for Nimble Storage, which announced in May 2015 that its revenue grew by 53% year over year.
2016 may be filled with highs and lows for SSDs, but innovations and advancements continue. So it’s only going to get better as time progresses.
Given that the overall performance of a solid state drive is much better than that of a hard drive, it is only logical to make a switch. Why suffer when you can work faster and with less problems with an SSD?