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Solid State of Mind

Something you’ll hear a lot in the PC sphere (and especially around Granite), is that the best possible upgrade for a computer is the switch from a rotating hard disk drive (HDD) to a solid-state drive (SSD). It’s true that this can breathe new life into a legacy machine, but exactly what does that mean to you and is it just hogwash, or will you notice it?


An SSD is special because it has no moving parts. Unlike a traditional HDD, wherein magnetized disks spin at 5,400-15,000 RPM, an SSD relies on the same kind of memory that a USB flash drive might. With no moving parts, there is less degradation of components over time and with use. “Less,” and not “none,” because even SSDs will wear out in the long run. Their mean time until failure, however, is significantly greater than HDDs. Solid state drives are also faster as a result of having no moving parts – in addition to not waiting for the parts to start doing their jobs, this architecture is literally as fast as electricity and the microcontrollers inside the drive.


SSDs have been around for a while, so why is it just now that they’re coming into the spotlight? Mostly, this is because of the price per gigabyte of storage ratio. Whereas HDDs could give you up to a terabyte (or 1024 gigabytes) for only $200 or $300 a decade ago, the same storage in SSD form would cost thousands. Thanks to Moore’s law, among other things, a 1TB SSD now costs roughly $150, or half of what even the HDD version cost a decade ago.


So, what does this mean to you? It means that you can get extreme performance for relatively cheap. At the same price point, you’re still trading speed for space, but we’ve reached a lovely point in technology where we aren’t using a lot of the space we have. A 1TB SSD isn’t going to fill up quickly.

“Extreme performance,” though, is that necessary? In most cases, yes, because when we talk about “extreme performance,” we’re speaking relatively – in this case, relative to the hardware you will find in old or cheap machines. This means that, if you’ve noticed your computer is sluggish, and let’s face it, we’ve all had that computer that couldn’t keep up with our typing, you stand to benefit greatly from the performance upgrade.


What all is going to change with an SSD? Starting from the beginning, boot times. Because SSDs are anywhere from 10 to 70 times faster than HDDs, you get anywhere from 10 to 70 times as much data loaded in the same time. Next, application loading times will also diminish. Opening a file? Loading a song or even a high-definition movie? The only way to describe it with an SSD is “snappy” because, it seems, it all happens at the snap of your finger (or click of your mouse, but “clicky” doesn’t sound as good).

So, hogwash? Not at all. Even on a perfectly-tuned machine with a traditional hard disk drive, upgrading to a solid-state drive improves its speed and performance. At the very least, you’ll be thankful for its longer lifespan. If you feel like you could use this boost in your machine, give Granite a call, and we’ll be happy to get you in the fast lane.

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