The hard drive is an essential component in every PC. The hard drive stores everything on your computer, from your operating system to your holiday photos, everything you do on your computer lives there.
A hard drive is comprised of spinning metal platters that are read by a mechanical arm that bounces across the surface of the platters and reads or writes data. There is a much simpler, quieter, and safer alternative that can add a zip in the step of any computer running with it, and these are called Solid State Drives. These SSDs essentially have the same function as a hard drive but have no mechanical parts inside. For the most part, SSDs operate in a similar way to storage medias such as SD Cards and USB Memory Sticks.
How can they be quieter than Hard Drives?
As mentioned earlier, a hard drive has several platters that rotate between 5400 to 7200 RPM which is very fast. Depending on the quality of your hard drive, the platters may be ever so slightly unbalanced which can cause a hum which can be heard throughout your computer case, and if you have your computer on a cabinet or a desk, the noise can become rather loud.
Alongside the hum, you may also hear the data arm as it clicks across the surface. Again, this is something that differs depending on brand and quality, and if you’re reading or writing a lot of data the noise can become even louder.
An SSD doesn’t have any spinning discs, no clicking arms, it’s just chips on a circuit board, nothing moves but your data, silently and fast.
How are they simpler than hard drives?
Hard drives come in two sizes, 3.5 inches and 2.5 inches. This size determines the form-factor of the hard drive. 3.5-inch models are more commonly found in tower computers, and the 2.5-inch models are commonly found in laptops, games consoles, and other portable technologies.
Solid State Drives on the other hand only come in the 2.5-inch form factor which can be easier to tuck away in a tower and fit perfectly into any laptop.
Another form of SSD is known as the M.2 SSD which is even faster than conventional 2.5-inch SSDs, and even smaller. The downside of the M.2 SSD is that it requires a specific connector that isn’t in most common computers, and although you can purchase kits for converting them to work with SATA connectors, you will lose some of the speed and reliability which will lose its benefits and you will be much better off sticking to a standard 2.5-inch SSD.
How are SSDs more reliable than Hard Drives?
With all the mechanical parts moving around within a hard drive, they can become quite fragile. Maybe you’ve knocked your laptop while it’s been on and suddenly it’s crashed or turned off? That’s usually an issue caused by the hard drive being jostled. Some hard drives have countermeasures to help prevent this from happening. But still aren’t as reliable as SSDs.
An SSD is just several large chips, which takes significant force to compromise and damage, with the only real way to damage it, other than physical damage, being a power surge. Power surges aren’t much of a threat these days with power suplys and motherboards having surge protect, but failure is still very much a possibility in the right conditions.
Can an SSD replace a Hard Drive?
Whilst SSDs offer a much faster, quiet, and safer experience, they are currently limited by the amount of storage capacity they can hold. The prices for a 1TB hard drive at the time of writing this article are around £30-£40 depending on where you go and the quality of the drive, where an SSD for the same price may only be around 128GB to 256GB, again depending on the brand and quality. If you’re wanting a 1TB SSD, you’re going to be looking at spending upwards of £300.
So, if you don’t use your computer for much else other than browsing the internet, or word-processing, then a 128GB SSD will work perfectly for you. However, in a lot of cases, you can use an SSD for your operating system and a hard drive for your storage, which is the standard for possibly 90% of SSD users. If you use a laptop then you are mostly confined to just one space for your storage device within the limited space of a laptop casing. However, it is possible, if you have a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray drive, it is now possible to remove that drive and fit an SSD into that space using a special caddy, allowing you to increase your storage space at the loss of removing the ability to listen to CDs or watch DVDs. If you do not use your CD drive in your laptop then one of these special caddies would be ideal.
So, what is the verdict?
While SSDs are confined by the storage space they offer, they do provide many other advantages which outweigh the lack of storage, and as stated, can coexist with hard drives perfectly fine, even in laptops providing you have an optical drive that you do not care for replacing with the special caddies to fit an extra HDD.
For the speed and reliability that SSDs offer, you cannot go wrong with upgrading, and we here at PC-Part X couldn’t recommend making the move, especially if your laptop or tower is on the older side, although in some circumstances you may be better off upgrading. Therefore, we recommend bringing your computer in for servicing. When we service your computer, we test the hard drive for any potential faults and will contact you with several options, our main option being to replace a failing drive with an SSD and offer to fit another HDD for your storage. If your hard drive is completely fine and you’re just looking to upgrade, we can migrate your operating system from your hard drive to a brand new SSD and use your existing hard drive, again, for storage providing it is a healthy drive.
If you would like any further information to how your computer can benefit from an SSD upgrade, feel free to contact us either in store, by phone, email, or find us on Facebook and send us a message.