Solid State Drives; The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Solid State Drive or SSD is a pretty significant storage technology these days, but along with the sunshine, of course a little rain must fall. The SSD is a replacement for the traditional "hard drive" we have had for years. A hard drive is an electro-mechanical device, with some associated circuitry to interface with the PC. These have been pretty much the standard permanent storage device on laptops, desktops and server computers. Hard drives have moving parts, generate quite a lot of heat, and are pretty heavy for their size.

The SSDs on the other hand contain no moving parts, are very lightweight and generate little heat - they also can use considerably less energy than the traditional drives. Further, the ability to "read" data from the SSD can be much faster than from a hard drive in most configurations, although "writing" data to the SSD can be relatively slow.

That's the good - and it is pretty good.

The bad? Well, SSDs are still considerably more expensive that traditional drives, but there is always the option of using the SSD as the primary drive where the operating system resides (where it's benefits really shine), and perhaps use a traditional drive for data storage - not a viable option for most laptops of course. Prices continue to fall, and in many cases the performance/cost comparison is favorable.

The ugly: SSDs can fail like anything else, and when they do it can be suddenly and often without warning. Worse, there usually does not seem to be much hope of data recovery. With a traditional hard drive, you may have some symptoms before a failure (operating system warnings, or a sudden very noticeable decrease in performance), and you can sometimes at least get some data back (although it can be very expensive to do so). Now this may improve, but it just underscores the need to back up your stuff!

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