What is an ssd?

When buying a new computer these days, you would have noticed how much storage a computer might have. You may have seen the option for an SSD (which stands for Solid State Drive).

SSDs are becoming increasing popular, it was only just a few short years ago when SSDs were crazy expensive. But now SSDs have been slowly coming down in price, so you may be thinking to yourself, what is an SSD, how is it different than a normal hard drive and why you would want one.

First, what even is an SSD. An SSD, also known as a Solid State Drive is a new type of storage device. SSDs typically have no moving mechanical components. A standard hard drive would contain metal platters with a metal coating which stores your date. Then a read/write head is used to access your data while the metal platters are spinning.

An SSD can do all of that but there’s not spinning platters or moving parts. Data stored on SSDs are on interconnected flash memory chips that can retain your data, even if it’s off. The flash memory chips are faster and more reliable than ones you’ll find a USB drive. The chips are sometimes permanently installed on a computer’s motherboard (this is usually the case for laptops and other portable computers). They can also be installed on a PCI Express card or in a box that is directly connected to a slot inside a computer.

SSDs can get the same job done as a standard hard drive. You’ll be able to load your computer’s operating system, install applications and keep files. SSDs are more expensive than hard drives when talking about dollars per gigabyte.

A 1 TB internal hard drive is around \$40-60, which is about 4 to 6 cents per gigabyte. Meanwhile, an SSD of similar size would cost around $350, which is about 35 cent per gigabyte. As SSD technology continue to evolve, the pricing of them will come down in price.

As for capacities, the biggest capacity SSD you can get is around 4TB. While a standard hard drive, you can find one with a 6TB, and it will still be cheaper than an SSD. One of the biggest reasons to get an SSD or a PC with an SSD is the speeds that they can offer. A PC or Mac with an SSD can boot a lot faster than one with a hard drive. That extra speed can mean more time to do the things you like to do most, whether than playing games, schoolwork or just watching videos.

Hard drives also run the risk of fragmentation, which is when large files become scattered on the disk. This typically happens when a hard drive starts to fill up. Read/write algorithms over the years have improved fragmentation from happening but it still could happen. SSDs, on the other hand, don’t get fragmented because there is no moving parts or physical head, so data is storage anywhere on the SSD.

Since SSDs have no moving parts, your data is safe in the event of dropping your computer while it’s running. Hard drives on the other hand, typically set their read/write heads to one side but can shift if the hard drive is shaken around.

SSDs are virtually silent and make no noise whatsoever since there are no moving parts. While hard drives are quiet but you’ll still be able to hear the mechanical arm moving about.

More and more storage companies are coming out with SSDs and are becoming standard in laptops. Companies like Western Digital, Toshiba, Seagate do tend to have more hard drive products than SSDs but that will change over the next few years. SSDs are much slimmer, which means that companies like Apple are likely to make thinner laptops with an SSD inside than one with a hard drive.

In the past few years, there has been the rise of hybrid drives. They combine the flash chip elements of an SSD with the large capacity and moving parts of hard drive. The flash chips are used to buffer your most frequently used files, so then your system can start and launch your favorite apps faster. Companies such as Microsoft and Apple have been implementing hybrid/fusion drives into their products.

There are also things called a dual-drive system, this basically when a manufacturer uses a small SSD for the operating system, apps and a bigger standard spinning hard drive for everything else. This way, you’ll be able to boot up your computer much faster and not have to worry about your OS crashing because of it being installed on your hard drive.

In conclusion, SSDs are great for speed, ruggedness, form factor, no noise and zero risk of fragmentation but aren’t so great if you’re on a tight budget, need a big capacity or want a lot of variety.