Very few things have impressed me more in the last 10 years than the solid state drive. The long boot times have gone the way of the horse and buggy. The new King of the Hill is in flash-based SLC and MLC memory devices. The reasons for switching are numerous but here is my list of pros and cons.
I must admit, I was hesitant at first to use a flash drive for my operating system. When first launched, the high prices kept me at bay. I was still buying mechanical drives until a tsunami in Thailand cut mechanical drive production 90 percent! For the next year, buying a new hard drive meant forking over a few hundred dollars or more for the same drive, with half the warranty. Right around that time, the Solid- State Drive (SSD) market really took off. Production facilities were pumping out SSDs as fast as they could just to cash in on Thailand’s misfortune.
I purchased my first SSD, a brand new Corsair 90GB Sata 3 model that same year for a mere $150. But once I got the drive installed I was absolutely enthralled. Boot times are important as well as program loading times to many people. We have all parked ourselves in front of the screen, watching the windows ring also known as the beach ball of death, spin and twirl. Most notably, when loading up that video editing program or grandma’s pictures to Photoshop. Now with SSD technology, that eternity has been returned to you. Boot times shrink from minutes to seconds, and those programs are now opening with blistering speed. Like any good tech, I setup a test bench, poking and prodding my new toy, coercing its submission to my torture tests. Try as I may, I could not break this champion via the conventional methods, using sudden shutdowns or hours of read write testing. I could not have been more gratified with my purchase. This gave rise to my use of SSD’s as a primary rather than a secondary replacement choice.
Benefits, like no moving parts, higher reliability, and longevity, play a huge role in the success of the SSD world. Additional plusses are, No noise production, lower heat signature, and instant read/write capabilities. No more waiting for spin ups to super high rpms before accessing the data on the drives. When doing a hard reboot, the old mechanical drives were obliged to return the needle to the start position on the platter, before reading. These vintage drives would also lose data, requiring rewrites over sectors causing OS failures and booting problems. One single SSD could out perform a high end raid setup with a lower failure rate as well as lower costs. Using multiple SSDs in raid, offers mind boggling speeds that will make computer techs drool with monster IOP rates and read write speeds!
The few downsides to SSD tech are just that “FEW”. Failing SSD’s usually just die, they rarely show signs of age like the clicking or slowdown of their mechanical predecessors. There are a few programs like SSD Life, which will give you some insight on the strength of your drive. Using a backup system state to image your entire drive is HIGHLY recommended and very easily done with programs like Acronis and Norton Ghost. If you are using these in your business, recommend regular back, since when they go they are nearly unsalvageable. The recovery cost of recovery for a single drive, containing a few gigabytes of data, from data recovery sites like Drive Savers, will cost you more than a solid backup option. So be smart and enjoy your new toy but never leave your data to chance. The cost for these drives is still high BUT they are steadily coming down as the market becomes saturated. You can locate worthy SSDs almost anywhere, at decent prices and high storage rates. Remember, as always, read reviews and do your homework before making that purchase.