Data has been stored a few different ways over the years in computing. Traditional hard drives have a number of moving parts and a spinning disk. That’s why they’re so big and heavy, and it’s also why they can malfunction more often. In the last few ways, a new way of storing large amounts of data has taken the computing industry by storm. That’s the SSD, or Solid State Drive.
In this article, we’re going to look into SSDs a bit more closely so that you know a lot more about the technology and how to use it properly. Most new computers these days have SSDs instead of traditional hard drives, but they aren’t just good for home computing. Because You can get a SSD that’s a lot smaller than a traditional hard disk, they’ve become popular in all sorts of smaller technology. In this article, we’re going to look at why they’ve become so popular and the benefits they have over standard disks.
What is an SSD?
As we’re already discovered, SSD stands for Solid State Drive. But what does that actually mean? An SSD is known as a non-volatile type of storage media. It stores your files in a persistent state of flash memory. While there are much bigger solid-state drives these days, they’re the same as those USB sticks that have been around for a while. The way they’re built helps them to maintain a high level of performance and be read and written on quickly. That means they’re fast as well as durable and long-lasting. They’re also compatible with a wide range of devices unlike some traditional storage media.
One reason SSDs are much longer-lasting and more durable is because they don’t have moving parts like a traditional hard drive. This means there’s much less that can go wrong, less wear and tear, and ultimately less chance of something breaking. Traditional hard disks or HDDs have a spinning disk with a read and write head, and these don’t always last that long.
How does an SSD work?
Now you know a bit more about the basics of an SSD and how they compare to a traditional HDD, you probably want to get further into the detail of how they work. Let’s have a look…
Traditional hard disk drives will spin and then read the data with a magnet, or magnetically. They’ve used this technology for decades. But using magnetism for this isn’t always the most reliable way of doing things, and technology has improved a lot over the years to mean that these traditional drives aren’t necessary anymore.
Solid-state drives, or SSDs, read data to a bank of connected chips of flash memory. The more memory, the bigger the bank. These chips are made from silicon and don’t have any moving parts, making them much more reliable. SSDs can be built in a range of different sizes, from small flash memory sticks to larger drives.
These SSDs are much less volatile, that’s because they’re made with what’s known as floating gate transistors in order to store and hold the electrical charge. This gives an SSD the ability to keep data even when it isn’t connected to any power. Every floating gate has a tiny bit of data, stored in binary as 1 for a cell with a charge or zero for a cell without.
Each tiny piece of data in an SSD can be accessed consistently at the same quick speed. SSDs can generally only write to empty blocks, but also use a technology known as overprovisioning to help. While SSDs are quick, they can get slower over time.
Solid-state drives use three different types of memory. These are known as single, multi and triple-level. Single level cells can only hold one bit of data at any one time, either a zero or a one. These are the most expensive types of SSD drives, but that’s because they’re the quickest and longest-lasting. More common flash drives have multi-level cells, or MLC. These MLC drives can hold two bits of data in every cell and have more storage space for the physical space they take up, but they can be much slower to read and write and may not last as long.
The third type of SSD has triple-level storage cells, or TLC. These are cheaper and more affordable, but are slower and might not last as long.
The improvement of semiconductor manufacturing over the years has meant a number of different companies can now produce the chips for flash drives relatively inexpensively. That’s made this technology a lot more affordable and lead to its wider use.
What are the benefits of an SSD?
As we’ve already touched on a fair bit, solid-state SSD drives have a lot of benefits over traditional hard drives. First and foremost, they’re considered more durable and therefore longer lasting. The non-moving technology in SSD drives simply isn’t as likely to break down over time, although they can slow from overuse—they’re far more durable than traditional hard drives.
They’re also cheap, meaning you can get a lot of storage for a fraction of the price of traditional drives. This cost has come down over time, and looks set to continue to get cheaper thanks to economies of scale and wider supply. Flash drives can be compatible with a range of different computers and devices. They’re also much more portable than alternatives thanks to their size. SSDs have made it much easier to share and transfer large files quickly and easily without having to use an internet connection. This makes them convenient in offices and other creative spaces. Solid state drives are here to stay, and you probably already have a number of devices that use the technology already.