Monday, June 6, 2011

Solid State Drives

The hot computer component in the news is the solid state disk drive (SSD), named for having no moving parts of the inside of its unit, unlike the fragile hard disk drive (HDD).  An example of a solid state storage device is the memory card put into a digital camera. That technology is becoming another option to use as a storage device for computers instead of a HDD.  SSDs have their advantages and disadvantages compared to HDD, and while it is popular, they may not be replacing HDDs completely any time soon.

There are many reasons why people (like me) advocate making backups of a hard drive; the biggest is because hard drives can and do fail. The hard drive is like the cerebral cortex:  it is where the memory is located. (Wikipedia, 2011). A monitor or a motherboard can be replaced without losing information, but once the hard drive is dead, hours of work, time, and money are gone in an instant. With the advent of mobile technology, it is more important than ever to have a storage device that is stable and can handle a few hard knocks. The SSD is becoming a legitimate hard drive alternative for mobile devices where a traditional hard drive would be damaged by the constant moving- and possibly dropping- of said devices.  

While HDDs have platters with a read/write head reading the tracks on the heads (read the previous entry to get a lowdown on all those parts) there are no moving parts on an SSD and it stores memory electronically (Tyson, 2011).This is also called Flash memory. There are many perks to using SSD over HDD besides its sturdiness: it weighs less, starts up faster than HDD, and magnets have no effect on it (Wikipedia, 2011). However, HDD disk drives will not be obsolete anytime soon, as even though prices are dropping, SSD is still more expensive than HDD, and the storage sizes for it aren’t anywhere near as large. This chart on Wikipedia gives a good outline on the other differences between SSD and HDD.

There is also the perception that SSDs aren’t as reliable as HDDs. In a study mentioned in this article, SSDs were returned to stores as malfunctioning at a higher rate than HDDs. Now, this article was written in December 2010, and as I am writing this entry in early June 2011, this is an eon of time for technology.  In another article from March 2011, Seagate is promoting their business line of SSDs which should be incredibly powerful and reliable and also incredibly expensive. This should give an idea on how fast technology is improved and updated: one article is about how SSDs are being returned at a high rate as malfunctioning, and another article from the same website a few months later is about how much SSDs have improved. Who knows what will happen in a year from now? Oo, now I have a blog article to write about…in a year from now.

One last thing I have to talk about is TRIM. It’s something that is mentioned a lot during SSD discussions so it’s important to know what it is. When information is deleted from a SSD, the hard drive won’t delete the singular file right away- it only deletes information in blocks. After time, the SSD slows down because it is full of files marked for deletion, arranged in the blocks. Once the blocks are full, then the SSD will start deleting the blocks, which takes a long time. However, if both the operating system and the SSD have TRIM support (and both of them need to support TRIM for this to work) then the files marked for deletion will be deleted at that time, not when the blocks of deleted items are full.(Hilton) Just think of it as the end user taking control of their hard drive.

Hilton, J. (n.d.). What is TRIM support? Retrieved June 6, 2011, from Top Ten Reviews:
Tyson, J. (2011). How Flash Memory Works. Retrieved June 6, 2011, from How Stuff Works:
Wikipedia. (2011, April 25). Cerebral Cortex. Retrieved June 6, 2011, from Wikipedia:
Wikipedia. (2011, June 4). Solid State Drive. Retrieved June 6, 2011, from Wikipedia:


  1. I love how you are including all your resources in a formated matter with dates and all. It tells me that you've been doing research papers in school!
    Well, that, or you have the mind of a researcher and you don't even realize it!

    Documenting sources is so important and totally boost your credibitlity!
    Also like to be a bridge between technolgy and the non-nerdy myself, it's kinda my thing.
    Wish you the best of luck with your IT goals. I am currently attempting to make the switch from bedside nursing care to clinical informatics, and my gosh it is a challange! My youth puts me at a disadvantage, but really it shouldn't, since I've grown up with these technologies, I know them like the back of my hand. I

  2. Ha, it can be hassle to add all the sources in, but I think its worth it because it shows that I'm not plagiarizing, and if people want to check out other sources, its right there for them to find it.

    Thanks for the well wishes, I hope the same for you! I know nursing is an in demand job, but it sounds exhausting. Part of the reason why I do this blog is because it solidifies technical concepts in my brain, otherwise I would forget it all. Clinical informatics sounds way cool, so keep on working towards your goal!