Solid State Drives: What's the buzz?

Solid state drives have been a popular inclusion into many PCs recently, and the list of benefits for adding them into your setup is long.  Yet I’ve recently talked to a few people on Twitter and on Facebook to explain why they are a good option, so I thought I’d put together a short guide to walk you through what they can bring to your PC or Laptop.

So, solid state drives. Where to start? I think the main point is to understand the difference between a hard disk drive (HDD) and solid state.  A HDD is a magnetic disc that has data written to it as it spins, from one edge to the other. A solid state hard drive has no moving parts and is very similar to RAM, writing data to a microchip rather than a magnetic disc.

One of the main problems with the more traditional HDD is that it writes data to the magnetic disc in sequential order, meaning that it starts at the edge and writes the data moving inwards or outwards (depending on the manufacturer) in sequence, so that the first file saved is written first, then the second one is placed after that.  When it reads back the data, it has to spin up (making a noise) and find where it stored the files on the disk.  This takes time, and will slow down the data loading process.


The other issue with a HDD is with fragmentation.  If you save files in a certain order, and then delete a file, there’s a space left on the disk to fill.  The next time you save a file, it will be saved into that newly emptied space, whether it fits or not.  If it doesn’t fit, then your computer saves part of it into that gap, and the rest of the file to the next available location on the disk.  This fragmentation of files means that to load a program your HDD must find all the pieces of that file seperately and then piece them together, which further slows down the loading time.

There are several other benefits to having a solid state drive which I’ll quickly name check. Lower power consumption, much faster read / write times, noiseless, and mechanical reliability (no moving parts to wear out). However, there are draw backs too.  Solid state drives are more expensive, so generally they are sold with smaller capacities than HDDs. This means that they may not be for everyone.. However, if you’re not a power user or work with smaller volumes of data and are happy with 120GBs worth of space, then a solid state drive is a fantastic way to improve your system boot times, speed up your PC and keep the noise down.  Couple this with an external hard drive to store your music or videos and you have yourself the perfect set up.

So, if you’re interested in seeing what’s on offer, take a look at Intel’s range of Solid State hard drives, or the excellent Kingston V100 range.  If you have any questions about choosing the right SS HD, get in touch via Facebook or our Dabsdotcom Twitter page and I’ll be happy to walk you through it.

    About Alex Wall

    "All this wine nonsense! You get all these wine people, don't you? Wine this, wine that. Let's have a bit of red, let's have a bit of white. Ooh, that's a snazzy bouquet. Oh, this smells of, I don't know, basil. Sometimes you just want to say, sod all this wine, just give me a pint of...mineral water." - Alan Partridge

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