Friday, April 1, 2016

Solid State Disk Drives

Why you want one.

I recently went through a bout of upgrades with my families computers.  Mine because it was the oldest, Joanne’s and Alex’s because I kept getting comps from Best Buy because of mistakes made with my purchase.

One of the things I insisted on with my new computer is a SSD, or Solid State Drive.  This is not a traditional disk drive with whirling media, but just a block of transistorized flash memory.  These are not new. I first read about them a few years ago, but at the time the price point was about $500 for 32 gigabytes.  Just barely enough for the operating system.  So they were beneficial for boot up, but you were fighting the hard drive for most applications.  So both the price point and their capacity made them hard to justify.

This is no longer true.  You can pick up a 500 gigabyte SSD for $159 at Best Buy.  While a 3,000 gigabyte hard drive is just $100, for my boot drive I’ll take the SSD.  The thing is blindingly fast.  About 2 orders of magnitude faster.   From power up to operation is about 20 seconds.  There is no exaggeration here.  Shut down to reboot is 40 seconds. 

Also, there is no whirling disk that limits your data transfer.  You don’t have to worry about disk fragmentation that would limit your throughput.  Launching new programs have next to no delay.  If you really need a terabyte or three of space, get a second data drive.  

They are quiet, as they have no moving parts.  They are all sized for laptops if you wish.  Which consume less energy then a hard drive, about 2/3rds less.   Which means you laptop battery will last longer.  If you do customer facing work, this means your start-up time is minimal when you need it.  With such a short boot up time you can shut the computer down rather than sleep mode, further saving your battery.

Like a lot of things electronic, the price keeps coming down.  A terabyte sized SSD drive is now only $330, while a 480 gigabyte is only $120 and a 240 gig is only $60.  Plenty of room for the operating system and many programs.  

Thinking about upgrade rather than buy new?  As I was going through a number of computer upgrades, I bought the Geek Squad tech support package for $100 for the year.  So this year I had them clone both my wife’s and my son's hard drive to an SSD.  There computers weren’t slow before, but now they are amazingly fast.