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What are the advantages of switching to an SSD and should you?

If you've ever had a computer slow down after you've had it for awhile chances are someone has suggested you get an SSD installed.  

Many computers have used a standard HDD (Hard Disk Drive) for a very long time due to the cost being lower for more data storage space.

The solid-state drive (SSD) has slowly been replacing many of these HDD's over time.  But should you make the switch? Below we have listed some of the few key benefits that an SSD provides.

The main benefits that an SSD provides are Speed, longevity, physical size, power requirements, heat creation, sound generation.

To elaborate:

You’d be hard-pressed to find an SSD slower than around 4 times the speed of even the fastest HDD. Most (these days) are 10s of times faster.

SSDs just don’t get affected by fragmentation at all, while it’s the bane of HDDs - so the more you use the drive the less speedy it becomes (while with SSD it doesn’t matter how fragmented - it’s still the same speed). Of course, using some file systems like EXT4 / BTRFS / etc. alleviates fragmentation, let’s face it most still use fragmentation prone file systems like FAT / NTFS - say thanks to Microsoft for that.

Drop an SSD on the floor and it will still work. Do so to an HDD and all your data is lost as will the drive be completely useless.

An SSD can easily be much smaller in physical size than an HDD, especially if you consider the same capacities. The only reason some older SSDs are the same size as the HDD they’re replacing is because they need to get mounted into the same slot - most of the space inside is just air. But with things like M2 mounts you can see all they need to be is a card (around the size of a credit card).

The SSDs tend to use less than a 1/10 the of the power that an HDD does, so stuff like battery life gets extended. If you go with an economical HDD like a WD Green, you then lose even more speed, and usually also compromise on robustness, longevity and/or sound generation.

Due to less moving parts and no mechanical whatsoever, there is no friction - i.e. one less source of heat.

SSDs are completely silent, while HDDs always generate vibrations, motors spinning up and even scraping sounds.

The usual “fear” against SSDs is write-life-cycle, though in all cases HDDs tend to actually perform worse. That’s due to them constantly breaking because of their mechanical movement. 

Causing things like wear on their moving parts. At present SSDs tend to last about the same to slightly longer than similar HDDs - do some web searching on life expectancies of SSD vs HDD, you’ll be surprised to see the empirical test data.

The only benefit HDD has over SSD is cost - if you compare similar capacities. I.e. a 1TB HDD tends to be cheaper than a 1TB SSD. If you compare against things like life expectancies then the pricing is much closer - e.g. a server-grade HDD is about the same cost as an SSD of the same capacity (while their expected life - measured in how many times they’re overwritten - is about the same).

So, in short, we would almost always recommend getting an SSD even if it means compromising on storage space however it budget is an issue an HDD is fine.

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