Solid State Drive
Like the Hard Drive (HDD), a Solid State Drive (SSD) is used for storing and retrieving data such as the Operating System, programs, and user files. This data is retained even when the computer is powered off.
A Solid State Drive uses flash memory, similar to a memory stick, which retains its data even when unpowered. The SSD has no moving parts unlike a Hard Drive which has a motor, spindle, platters, and heads. This means that the computer can access data from the SSD much quicker than from a Hard Drive which may have to spin up the disk, then move the heads to the correct position of the platter before it can read or write data.
2.5 inch Solid State Drive (SSD) and 2.5 to 3.5 inch adaptor bracket
The Solid State Drive usually comes in a 2.5 inch form factor. This allows you to easily replace a laptop's Hard Drive with a Solid State Drive. To mount an SSD inside a desktop computer you will need a readily available bracket that will fit into a 3.5 inch or 5.25 inch drive bay inside your computer case.
The SSD is connected to the motherboard via an interface cable. The most common interface being SATA (Serial ATA) on a home computer. If your motherboard supports SATA3 then you can make full use of a SATA3 SSD but even if your motherboard only supports SATA2 then it will work okay with a SATA3 SSD.
Hard Drive or Solid State Drive, which is best?
Accessing data from a Solid State Drive is much quicker than from a Hard Drive, and it is very noticable when you boot up the computer.
When files on a Hard Drive become fragmented then the heads have to be moved to access the complete file which makes data access much slower. Fragmented files on an SSD are not a problem and can be accessed very quickly.
Because an SSD has no moving parts then there is less that can go wrong mechanically and is more likely to survive being dropped.
While an SSD is very quick, it is also much more expensive than an equivalent capacity Hard Drive, although Solid State Drives are becoming cheaper.
A good compromise is to have a Solid State Drive which contains your operating system and a large Hard Drive for all your programs and user data. This will improve the performance of your computer, which will also boot up quicker, and give you relatively cheap Hard Drive storage for all your files.
Limited number of Writes.
The memory cells in a Solid State Drive can only be written to a certain amount of times before they fail, although they can always be read.
Conventional file systems were originally designed for magnetic media such as the HDD and would rewrite data repeatedly in the same area of the disk which is okay for a Hard Drive but not for a Solid State Drive.
To overcome this problem an SSD incorporates 'wear leveling' which arranges data so that erasures and re-writes are distributed evenly. It also uses TRIM technology to maximise the life of an SSD.
Despite this limitation, under normal use, an SSD will probably last just as long as a conventional Hard Drive which is prone to mechanical failure.
An SSD needs a modern operating system that supports Solid State Drives and has TRIM commands. Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 execute TRIM commands automatically if the device is detected to be an SSD. Versions of Windows prior to 7 do not take any special measures to support Solid State Drives.
Due to the way an SSD works, data cannot be directly overwritten as it can in a Hard Drive.
When new data comes in replacing older data already written, the SSD will write the new data in a new location and update the logical mapping to point to the new physical location. The data in the old location is no longer valid, and will need to be erased before the location can be written to again.
TRIM is a SATA command that enables the operating system to tell an SSD what blocks of previously saved data are no longer needed so that they can be erased.
To confirm that TRIM is working then open the command prompt and type 'fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify
' (without the quotation marks). If TRIM is working okay then you should see - 'DisableDeleteNotify = 0
', otherwise confirm that your SSD drivers are up-to-date.
Do not fill a Solid State Drive to capacity as it will lose performance. If the SSD is almost full then it will have to read a partially filled block into its cache, modify the block, and write it back to the SSD which takes much more time than just writing the file to a clean block. If you leave about 25% free space on the SSD then it will maintain a good performance.
Never Defrag an SSD which will cause unnecessary write wear. An SSD can quickly access a defragmented file so there is no need to defrag anyway, and you need to reduce the number of times that you write to an SSD. Make sure the 'Disk Defragmenter schedule' is turned off. Open the Start Menu, then type dfrgui into the search line and press Enter.
Turn off 'Hibernation mode' as this will write a lot of data to your SSD as it enters hibernation. To turn it off then open the command prompt and type 'powercfg -h off
' (without the quotation marks). If you need to switch 'Hibernation mode' back on in the future then type 'powercfg -h on
' (without the quotation marks).
Use a Solid State Drive for the operating system, commonly used programs, and often played games. Software that is used a lot and benefits from the faster speed can be put on the SSD. Vast amounts of photos, video, and music are better stored on a conventional Hard Drive which will have a much larger capacity and doesn't require speed.