With the advancement in hard drive technology, SSD or Solid State Drives are making a strong advance into everyday use computing.
A solid state drive is basically a hard drive without moving parts. You can think of an SSD drive as a over sized USB memory stick and your data is stored in the microchips instead of the traditional mechanical/magnetic storage devices. It is, of course a little more complicated than that but essentially the major advantage of this is speed. To give you an idea, traditional SATA 3.0 hard drives today transfer around 50MB/s to 120MB/s where some SSD drives can burst transfer from 500MB/s to 1800MB/s. This makes for fast bootups, faster transfer rates of data over a network (assuming the network is high speed as well) and faster Saves of large files. This is an attractive feature for both gamers and photo/video users who wait endlessly for rendering.
They are also very quiet and they are not nearly as vulnerable to magnets or magnetism as traditional drives are. They also draw less power making laptops last longer on the battery charge.
The downside? Cost vs. volume. Since they are a newer technology, there is a premium price for them vs. what you get in capacity.
For example, a traditional hard drive that is 1TB can come in from $100-$140. An SSD 1TB drive retails for around $500-$600. Since their release, one option is to use smaller and cheaper SSD drives (128gb or 256GB drives) to act as your operating system drive making Windows or OSX run super fast, and use a traditional drive as your data storage. This hybrid configuration gives you a lot of power for good value.
There has been some discussion about the lifespan of SSD or if there was a finite amount of read/writes that an SSD can perform compared to traditional drives. The truth is there even though there is a finite number, in most normal use cases, that number is measured in decades not days or months. It is true that you do not defragment SSD drives to avoid such a finite problem, but other than that, under normal use, SSD drives will last a long time.
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