A solid-state device, also known as a solid-state drive or SSD, is modern computing's answer to the traditional, hard disk drive (HDD). While SSDs tend to have smaller capacities and higher price tags than their older counterparts, the benefits more than outweigh the drawbacks.
How Does an SSD Differ From an HDD?
Traditional, disk-based hard drives were first introduced by IBM all the way back in 1956. While they remained the de facto means of non-volatile data storage throughout the 1990s, and although they're still widely used today, many modern systems have replaced HDDs with solid-state drives.
By comparison, the modern SSD features a much smaller form factor than a traditional HDD. This lends itself to compatibility with smaller and more streamlined devices. However, the modern SSD is costlier than a comparable HDD. Traditional HDDs also have the edge when it comes to overall storage capacity, although modern SSDs are closing that gap slowly but surely.
Solid-state drives and hard disk drives differ in many ways, but the most notable differences are seen in the functionality of each device. While an HDD is a mechanical device that uses a disk, or platter, to store data, an SSD relies on integrated circuits to store data via flash memory. Not only is flash memory much faster than HDDs, with read speeds up to 10 times higher and writing speeds as high as 20 times higher, but SSDs are more reliable than their older counterparts, too.
What are the Various Types of SSDs?
There are several different types of solid-state drives in use today. First introduced in 1991, the earliest SSDs were pioneered by SanDisk in the form of a 2.5-inch Serial ATA (SATA) device. However, SSDs really grew in popularity after the turn of the 21-st century, with the introduction of SATA III, mSATA III, PCIe, and NVMe devices.
While the first two variations, SATA III and mSATA III, only support speeds up to 6 Gbps, PCIe and NVMe are capable of reaching speeds as high as 16 Gbps. Compare this to the standard HDD, which boasts read/write speeds ranging from 640 to 1280 Mbps, and it's easy to see how much faster SSDs are than traditional HDDs.
Using an SSD for Personal or Business Computing
Because of their storage limitations and comparatively high costs, SSDs seldom comprise the entirety of a user's entire data storage architecture. Instead, users - including personal and business users - tend to use a SSD in combination with one or more HDDs.
Installing your system files, including your operating system (OS) and other critical files, on your SSD will result in significant speed boosts when compared to installing these files on a traditional, disk-based hard drive. This is especially noticeable when it comes to your computer's initial boot-up and software loading times in general.
Conversely, HDDs are still relevant in the modern computing landscape. Because they're affordable, and available in much larger capacities than SSDs, they're an excellent choice for secondary storage and data backup. Multi-drive RAID systems, which typically consist of numerous HDDs for data redundancy and protection, are also a viable option.