In the past few years, the tech world has witnessed the Solid State Drive (SSD) spreading its dominion over the traditional HDD (Hard Disk Drive). Of course, the advent of SSDs has emerged as a viable alternative to the HDDs offering higher speed, and other considerable advantages. In a matter of time, these flash technology-based SSDs have made quite the reputation that the renowned IT professionals were so impressed with considering it ‘the best performance upgrade.’ Thus, they recommend it to all the people who are in need of better data storage and transfer.
Besides SSDs, there is no hardware upgrade available to date that is capable of providing instant and observable improvement in the system responsiveness, particularly when compared to a traditional hard drive.
Indeed, it is true that a faster processor, extra memory space, along with enhanced graphics card, is bound to give you better system performance overall. Surprisingly, what SSD can offer, all these upgrades fall far behind!
But as they say, every new invention comes with its set of disadvantages or drawbacks and so do SSDs. Well, this article is all about the advantages and disadvantages of SSDs that might help you in getting a bigger picture of them.
What is SSD used for?
SSD is basically used to store data and information permanently for professional and personal use. Generally, it is considered as the latest type of storage device available in the market.
The Advantages of SSDs
One apparent reason for which SSDs are preferred over traditional mechanical hard disk drives (HDD). The major share of these advantages is inferred from the fact that SSDs architecture doesn’t have any moving part as opposed to mechanical hard drives using motors for spinning up the magnetic platters and the drive heads as well.
This architectural modification has made SSDs faster, highly reliable, and power consumption saver.
Due to the reason that SSDs don’t come with moving parts, they are nearly non-susceptible to failure in extreme temperatures and high shock/vibration environments. The feature of potentially operating in extreme temperatures from 0°C to +70°C enables the SSD based system to manage and handle more applications in the complicated situations where the traditional hard drives generally fail.
Besides, reliability is the most significant feature of any portable system. The chances for a traditional HDD is severely affected when exposed to the harsh movements from an impact are more likely.
But here, the advantage of SSD explicitly visible as it comes with memory chips to store the data, therefore even when SSD faces any impact or force, it has no moving parts to suffer damage. This way, the risk or architectural or mechanical failure is eliminated from SSDs.
Data Read & Write Rates
If we consider the testing and industrial applications measurements are concerned, data access rates hold great significance. As the SSD does not require moving the drive heads or for spinning-up the drive platter as in the case of traditional HDD, data can be accessed in an SSD promptly.
And, due to such mechanical lacking, SSD showcases a significant increase in the read and write rates. This boost in the performance gives better user productivity enabling augmented rates of data to read and write, decreased system boot-up/shutdown time, faster application loading.
Well, faster read and write speeds are not the only advantage that SSDs proffer over HDDs; they also provide better deterministic performance. As compared to HDDs, the performance of an SLC SSD is very much consistent across the entire storage space. This is due to the consistently seek times that are offered by an SSD.
This advantage of the performance offered by an SSD is because of two key reasons- first: fragmentation—over the period, the files become more fragmented, needing a usual HDD to perform extra seeks for retrieving a whole record. Well, fragmentation decreases the drive performance as compared to the SSD, which require way lesser seek times.
The second reason is the method by which data is stored on an HDD. When the data is required to store in an HDD, it is to be stored in sectors that are close to the spinning platters’ outer edge, which moves faster as compared to the areas surrounding the center of the plate.
However, the situation differs when the HDD fills up, and the data is written to the slow-moving inner sectors, declining read and writes speed to almost up to 50%. Indeed, in such situations, SSDs serve as an advantage as it doesn’t consist of any moving parts. These are genuinely able to uphold the performance level of reading and write through the full capacity of the drive.
Power consumption is a critical factor for all portable systems. SSD utilizes far less energy than the traditional HDDs since there is no motor in an SSD to be run via power. The industry of traditional HDD has taken important measures to acknowledge the power requirements of the HDDs. They accomplished it by implementing idle drive spin-down and developing hybrid HDDs. Unfortunately, with both of the implementations, traditional HDDs were consuming the power more than an SSD.
The Disadvantages of SSDs
Turning from a current hard disk drive to a solid-state drive seemed appealing as it offered so many benefits that traditional hard disk drive couldn’t provide. But, does an SSD not possess any disadvantage? All the tech-savvy people must be wondering about the disadvantages of SSDs. Not to mention, the curiosity must be at the brim.
Despite offering so many benefits, SSDs are not free from disadvantages. The first and foremost is their steep prices. Even though there was a dramatic fall in the prices of NAND flash memory, SSD still continues to be expensive. For instance—according to Amazon, the cheapest 1TB SSD, i.e., Samsung 840 EVO, is tagged with a price of around $431; it implies $0.43 per GB. On the other hand, the cost of 4TB Western Digital Black is tagged with a price tag of approximately $230, and that indicates $0.0575 per GB. With this comparison, one can see the vast difference in the price range for different SSD of different brands.
Another big issue that is faced with an SSD is longevity. In SSDs, the used NAND flash can only be used for a restricted number of writes. Why is it so? Well, the reason for it is SSDs are not capable of writing a single bit of information without erasing it first, and then continue rewriting huge blocks of data at a time. And, some charge is left in the floating gate transistor every time a cell goes through this erase cycle.
Unfortunately, the gate can’t be reversed at all, leaving it useless. However, the capabilities of the read of an SSD are not affected by the decaying process. It happens because the reading only needs checking and not modifying or altering the voltage of the cells. Consequently, NAND flash can ‘decompose’ into a read-only state
Although, there are manufacturers who use a thing called ‘wear-leveling’ to cancel out the NAND flash degradation. This technique is distributes the data among all the blocks to make sure that the flash memory decay in an even manner. But, it is for sure that even with this counteract measure, SSD will decay over time. Generally, NAND flash memory of the single-level cell delivers 50,000 erase/program cycles. The kind that is used in consumer-level products is the flash of the multi-level variety—wears out after around 5,000 cycles.
However, rest assured that it was the situation with the old-fashioned SSDs or the first ones. Still, modern SSDs, particularly the top quality SSDs, are endowed with high-endurance, and for that reason I the manufacturers provide a 5-year warranty that implies that today, SSD can handle the toughest cases.
But of course, even if the modern-day SSD serves the user with durability or longevity, the high price for that much low capacity is not justified. Therefore, for these reasons the techies and many data centers use SSDS and HDD in a combination
One way forward is to use an SSD (solid-state drive) in a laptop and the regular/traditional HDD (hard disk drive) as an external storage system for holding music, photos, and other files. Well, this way, it merges the best of both worlds —the relatively inexpensive and high capacity of HDD along with the ultrafast, random data access of SSD. If in case, all this sounds good to you, you would want to shop the right SSD that suits your needs and wishes. The leading manufacturers in this business include Toshiba, Samsung, SanDisk, Seagate, Corsair, and OCZ Technology. Also, do take care of the Intel, which offers an entirely secure line of drives along with the many tools that you might help you choose the right technology and evaluate how much money and time you can save if you make the switch from HDD to SSD.