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A solid state drive, or SSD, is a flash based storage drive that is many times faster than a traditional hard drive. A traditional hard drive relies on an actuator arm to read data off of a spinning platter, which causes very high seek times. Data can also be spread out on different parts of the platter, or even on different platters altogether. An SSD gets around all this by storing data on memory modules, similar to the RAM in your computer. While the fastest hard drives can offer read speeds of around 70mb/s on average, an SSD is easily able to offer read speeds of up to 2500mb/s.
SSD’s are the perfect choice for your operating system, games, and frequently used applications. Because of their smaller capacity and higher speeds compared to traditional hard drives, it’s important to prioritize your applications. For most people, this includes Windows, Microsoft Office, Chrome/Firefox, Games, and software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere. If you have the space, moving your scratch disk onto an SSD is an excellent way to speed up programs as well.
Hard drives, just like any other piece of technology, have a chance of failing over time. While a traditional hard drive has a failure rate of less than 10% and a mean time between failure (MTBF) of 750,000 hours, a solid state drive (SSD) has an average a failure rate of less than 1% and an MTBF of over 1,500,000 hours.
Imagine starting up your computer in less than 6 seconds. That is what the average Solid State Drive is capable of. SSDs are much faster at both reading and writing compared to traditional hard drives through the use of solid state flash memory. Similar to the technology used in your RAM, this form of storage allows much faster transfer speeds with zero moving parts. With the advent of higher bandwidth PCI-Express lanes and Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) chipsets, these SSDs are capable of read and write speeds of up to 2,500mb/s, or 2.5GB/s. Even the average SATA SSD has an average read speed of 500mb/s, much higher than that of a traditional hard drive.
Solid State Drives come in three main formats: SATA, M.2, and PCIe. A 2.5IN SATA drive is the most similar to a traditional hard drive. With a thickness of either 7.5mm or 9mm, both are compatible with most computer cases and laptops. M.2 drives are even smaller, and look very similar to a stick of memory. These come in different lengths, but most motherboards and laptops are compatible with multiple lengths. Finally, the PCIe form factor will require a compatible PCI-Express lane on your motherboard and a compatible chipset in order to boot into an operating system.