Solid State Drives, known as “SSDs”, have been around for a number of years, but were very cost prohibitive with limited storage space. However, lately the prices have been dropping dramatically, down to an average of about $.35 per gigabyte (GB), with capacities available from 64GB up to 4000GB (4TB). They are available for both laptop and desktop computers, and are therefore under the right circumstances a very viable upgrade for your computer’s existing Hard Disk Drive (HDD). With this upgrade, your computer’s operation will be dramatically faster.
You are probably familiar with the USB key (also known as a USB memory stick or USB Flash Drive). A SSD can be thought of as a larger and more sophisticated version of the USB key. Like a USB key, a SSD has no moving parts and information is stored in microchips. Your existing HDD uses a mechanical arm with a read/write head to move around and get to the right location on the storage platter. This makes the HDD much slower.
Since SSDs have no moving parts, they are virtually silent, lighter than HDDs, and draw less power. For a laptop, that means that not only will the laptop operate much faster, but your battery will last longer and your laptop will be lighter.
HDDs and SSDs both can (and will) fail, either gradually or suddenly, for different reasons, but on average experience about the same longevity. Regardless, you should always implement a comprehensive backup plan.
In my experience, upgrading to a SSD in an older computer cuts the time to power up the computer, launch an application, and copy files significantly. For newer computers, the performance improvement will be even more dramatic.
Upgrading to a SSD involves cloning the HDD (an operation that copies each and every bit from your current HDD to your new SSD) and then physically replacing the HDD with the SSD. Depending on your operating system, some minor additional maintenance steps are also required to keep your SSD in top performance condition.
If either you have an older computer and wish you had a larger disk capacity or you have a newer computer and want to squeeze out every bit of performance, then a SSD upgrade might be just what you have been waiting for. Conversely, if you have large disk storage already (over 500GB) or don’t want to pay for faster performance, than a SSD upgrade likely does not make sense for you.