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Solid State Drives vs. Hard Disk Drives

You have probably heard people talk about solid state drives as being the way of the future, but what exactly is a solid-state drive?

First of all, let’s differentiate between what we mean by solid state compared to regular hard disk drives. If you take the case off a hard disk drive (WHICH YOU SHOULD NEVER DO!), it looks kind of like the arm of a record player reading a CD. The disk you see is the top stack of disks that contain all the data of your hard drive. Your family photos, work documents, music, all just little bits of information on these disks. For this information to be displayed on your computer, a little needle on the end of the arm must read the information off the spinning disks and then communicate it with your computer so it can be displayed or listened to or whatever the case may be. Hard disk drives have been the most dominant device for memory storage since their introduction. While most of the world’s data is still on hard disk drives, the complicated interaction between the actuator arm and disks can create speed and reliability problems that can be solved with new technology.

This new technology is currently being dominated by solid-state drives. So what does solid state mean? Remember how we said hard disk drives have an arm like a record player that reads data off spinning disks? Well solid-state drives have taken these moving parts out of the picture. They use the same type of block input/output system as traditional hard disk drives, but their lack of moving components makes them much less susceptible physical shock or lost data. They are also silent and have significantly lower access time and latency. The main holdup keeping solid-state drives being in everyone’s computers is they are currently significantly more expensive than hard-disk drives, and typically have less capacity. However, technology advances on solid-state drives is continuing to rapidly approach reasonable consumer costs and capacities which will allow solid-state drives to likely become the standard data storage method for personal computers over the next few years.

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