4 Fast Features of Solid State Drives

Author: Levi Wilson

When it comes to hard drives the normal conversation is based around two options: solid state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs). Both hard drives do the same job: they are both a type of storage that boots one’s system and stores ones’ applications and personal files. Nonetheless, each type of storage has its own unique features, and this article discusses four features of solid state drives while using hard disk drives as a comparison.

1) SSDs Have the Need for Speed

SSDs can locate, retrieve, or write data almost instantly. An HDD has to mechanically move its read/write head across a spinning platter to locate data to read; whereas an SSD use software instructions to go directly to the location where the data is stored. A typical HDD takes about 5,000 – 10,000 microseconds to access data; whereas an SSD takes about 35 – 100 microseconds to access data. This faster access speed results in operating systems booting up faster, programs running more quickly, and computer waking up and shutting down much more quickly.

2) SSDs Have No Moving Parts

And there are a many benefits that come along with a device that does not have moving parts: increase reliability, less energy consumption, less heat, and minimal noise.

  • Like any physical device or machine, SSDs can wear out from use over time; however, because there are no moving parts, an SSD will last a lot longer and be more reliable than a device with moving parts, say an HDD. Furthermore, SSDs have software that can help predict failure in time for the owner to take proactive steps to prevent the loss of data.
  • No moving parts and fast data read/write speeds mean that SSDs consume less power while working and while being idle. Because it is using less energy to operate, the battery of your device will go longer without needing to recharge.
  • Because of no moving parts and the science behind flash memory, SSDs generate less heat compared to HDDs. This will increase the longevity and reliability of the hard drive.
  • Since SSDs are non-mechanical, they make virtually no noise. This benefit may seem minute, but it only takes one event of a screeching spinning platter in the middle of the night to fully appreciate this aspect of an SSD.

3) SSDs Are Form Fitting

In comparison with an HDD, which requires a spinning platter, there is a physical limit on how small they can be manufactured. HDDs are usually 3.5 and 2.5 inches in size with no options for smaller designs. However, SSDs don’t rely on spinning disks and don’t have associated limitations, so they can continue to shrink in size as time passes and technology advances. Currently, SSDs are available in 2.5, 1.8, and 1.0 inches. As the market demands smaller and slimmer devices that require hard drives, there will be a natural growth in technology to make SSDs smaller in size.

On a similar note, SSDs with comparable storage size of HDDs are weigh less; this becomes relevant with the market demanding smaller and more mobile friendly devices. You wouldn’t want to have a laptop/tablet/phone the size of your hand that weighed 55 pounds.

4) SSDs Are Unaffected by Magnetism

Being unaffected by magnetism is unique and is one of my favorite features of SSDs. I grew up being constantly warned about the dangers of magnets on electronics. So when I would see a magnet near a computer or any electronic device, my Spider-Sense would kick in and I would immediately demand that the magnet be removed from the premises.

So why are they not affected by magnetism? The type of memory in an SSD is called Electronic Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EEPROM). Without going into too much detail, this type of memory uses tunneling of electrons in a grid of columns and rows with a cell that has two transistors at each intersection. One of the transistors is a floating gate and the other is a control gate. By connecting and disconnecting the floating and control gate, the value of a cell can change from 0 to 1, which is used to store digital information. Thus, this flow of electrons is unaffected by magnets, at least the size of magnets humans can safely be around; therefore, SSDs are unaffected by magnetism.

With these five features in mind, along with their corresponding benefits, an SSD is a solid choice for peak performance; however, this is one limiting factor I left out – Price. Solid state drives tend to be more expense than hard disk drives for the same amount of store. So for most computer users, we suggest using SSD as the primary drive for one’s operating system and most important programs. Then we recommend using one or more HDDs inside the same computer or as an external HDD to store documents, photos, and music, which don’t need the fast access times of SSD. So with that said and many of the features discussed, it is pertinent to remember that the type of hard drive, the size of the hard drive, and the number of hard drives you use is dependent up how you plan on using your technology; it’s all about your expectations and what you want to accomplish.