Speed is the primary advantage of solid-state drives over traditional HDDs. Based on NAND flash memory (the kind in USB keys, memory cards, and music players) rather than the spinning, magnetized platters that hard drives use - they offer an immediate boost to a computer's performance, with SSD drives being one of the best upgrade investments available.
Solid-state is already widely used for storing data in tablets and smart phones - its durable, shock resistant nature and ability to read / write significantly faster with flash memory (vs. mechanical access from the disk platters of a hard drive) give it a huge performance advantage. Even with the cheapest SSDs available, manufacturers quote speeds 10x faster than a standard 7200 RPM hard drive. And, with failure rates being far lower than traditional hard disks, warranties of 3-years are the norm, with industry leading 10-year offerings from the likes of SanDisk.
In addition, many SSDs offer hardware-based encryption for enhanced data security, along with features such as power loss protection and built-in temperature sensors / throttling control to maintain the integrity of systems.
When installed, regardless of your processor type or make, a PC will be more agile in its data processing. Not only will your operating system (OS) boot and shut down more quickly but applications load almost instantly, files are copied at far greater speeds than conventional hard drives and the physically robust (silent) nature of an SSD is an additional boon.
If you plan to add an SSD drive an existing set-up - with your old hard disk serving as a second drive - just about every PC case has an additional bay for this purpose. Hard drive bays are normally 3.5in wide, while SSDs tend to be 2.5in wide, meaning you’ll need a mounting bracket to fit one into your machine.
If you plan to migrate (transfer) data from your current storage device to a new SSD, then many drives are bundled with Data Migration Software in kit form – with the process itself being identical for desktop and notebook computers.
While SSD flash memory performance is ever-improving – the bottleneck between drive and computer is often the Serial ATA interface itself. That said, the speed at which SSDs transfer large sequential files and random write / read data does vary between brands and models. Typically, consumer drives offer a maximum transfer rate of between 100 MB/s to 600 MB/s, with random read speeds of 100K IOPS (and 90K IOPS writing) depending on the type of model selected.
There are a few considerations to make before choosing a SSD, as the choice depends mainly on data storage requirements and the way you use your computer on a daily basis. Below, we consider different types of users, each with their own requirements:
If you’re a consumer of multimedia (music, video streaming, web surfing, social media etc) and use relatively few office suite / productivity applications, then the workload imposed on a drive can be handled adequately by a cheaper, consumer grade, three-level cell based (TLC) SSD.
Computer gamers will see a significant benefit from faster load times provided by an SSD. Playing games with significant data streaming demands high performance in both IOPS and read/write bandwidth together with more durability. In this case a Samsung 840 EVO or a Crucial M500 will give enough space to comfortably store your OS and all of your favourite games letting you benefit from greater power efficiency and upgraded performance.
Programs for photo editing or 3D-modeling call significantly more files into memory than simpler programs such as browsers or word processors. Graphic designers / video editors will therefore find better performance with SSD cards that make use of the next generation SATA. M.2 interface - which offers more than 1000MB/s in bandwidth and gives significant gains in reducing the load-time of such applications.
Where time-saving is extremely important, but security and reliability cannot be sacrificed for performance, you'll need an enterprise-level SSD.
The market features various SSD models for different types of enterprise usage, including database acceleration, cloud computing, banking and e-commerce applications. Look for high sequential throughput SSDs, with approximately 1100MB/s read and 765MB/s write performance.
With SSDs forget the old notion that more space is automatically better. To know which SSD would perform best, the logic is to understand which apps are most used and to determine how much space is taken up an existing drive (always leaving some space for "overprovisioning," or reserved functions that help the drive work properly is a must). Note that normally a drive advertised as 256GB might have less than 240GB available once it's formatted, but of course it varies from drive to drive depending on features.
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