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The Hard Drive Question: SSD versus HDD

SSD prices have halved in a year: is it time to get one now?

Click. Click. Buzzzzzzzz. Click. Click.  

The audible death knell of a hard drive that strikes fear into the heart of any laptop or PC user. For all the advances in computer design and technology, it seems odd that at the beating heart of most of our PCs and laptops is a mechanical little box of wonders holding a number of incredibly delicate ceramic discs whizzing round at 120 revolutions per second.

The device in questions is of course the Hard Drive.

Dancing a few nanometres above each of the spinning disc are the incredibly tiny read/write heads, which literally “fly” over the disc surface1 to read and write your valuable data. Like any mechanical device, it’s no wonder that from time to time something goes wrong, and in the case of a hard drive, that means lost data or possibly a completely crashed and unusable system.

So what are the alternatives?

The obvious answer is Solid State Drives (SSD).

We’ve all familiar with the technology – we use it every day in USB sticks, in our cameras and other portable electronic devices. Up until now however both the maximum capacity and the cost per gigabyte of these devices has meant that they have not been a practical alternative to hard drives for our laptops and PCs.

This situation is changing rapidly however.

Prices of SSD drives have halved in the past year, with the cost per Gigabyte falling to as low as US$1 per Gb.

This now makes them an economically viable alternative to the traditional hard drive.

Advantages of SSDs over hard drives

SSDs have a number of advantages over the hard drive:

  1. They are completely solid state with no moving parts, so the risk of losing data from a laptop falling off a desk is no longer a worry

  2. Data transfer times to and from SSD are also now also faster than traditional hard drives

Manufacturers are all jumping on the SSD bandwagon as a result.

Windows 7 has supported SSD since its arrival, while Apple is increasingly pushing users of its laptops towards SSDs; its latest MacBook Pro is only available with SSD storage, as are the new version of its MacBook Air.

For those who of you who are still using HDDs and want a rapid way to upgrade your computer – particularly a notebook – changing to an SSD is the fastest way to get a new experience. And the price fall now means that a like-for-like capacity swap may be possible, so that you don’t have to delete or shift anything from your existing hard drive in order to fit into the SSD space.

Want to switch from HDD to SSD? Click the green button below to find out more!

1 Read/write head aerodynamics are critical to the functioning of a hard drive. In fact, special drives are needed for hard drives that are used in aeroplanes – because at altitude there is insufficient air pressure inside the drive for the read/write heads to fly high enough over the disc surface.

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