Beginner's Guide to Solid State Hard Drives - Should You Buy One?

One of the latest products to hit the computing world are Solid State Hard Drives (commonly referred to as an 'SSD'). The actual technology for SSDs has been around for a long time but it's only recently been available to the mainstream in the past few years. In this article I will outline to you what a solid state disk drive is, what the benefits are, and whether it's worth your money.

What Is A Solid State Hard Drive?

So what exactly is a solid state drive, and how does it work? Firstly, you must understand what "solid state" means. It is the term used to refer to electronic circuitry that is built solely from semiconductors. In the past, the term solid state was used to describe electronic devices that used semiconductors as opposed to vacuum tubes in its construction.

But these days, in terms of a solid state hard disk, the term "solid state" means that the data stored on the SS hard drive is through semiconductors, instead of being stored through magnetic media such as a normal hard drive.

You may be thinking to yourself that this type of technology has been around for years with storage devices such as USB flash drives, and in some regard you are right. USB flash drives and solid state hard drives are the same in that they both store memory the same way. But the difference between them is the form factor, and more importantly the fact that solid state drives live inside of your computer and can obviously store a huge amount more data than a flash drive.

Advantages of Solid State Drives

As you can imagine, a solid state hard disk has some advantages over a typical magnetic hard disk. The main reason for these advantages is the fact that solid state drives don't have any moving parts inside of them.

A normal hard drive has motors inside spinning the magnetic platters and the drive heads, whilst in a solid state drive all the memory is stored by flash memory chips. This is the reason for the three main advantages to a solid state hard drive:

Less Power Is Used

The first main advantage is that less power will be used. Since there are no moving parts inside the solid state drive, it won't need anywhere near as much power to run.

Faster Accessing of Data

This is another big advantage thanks to having no moving parts. In a solid state drive you will experience faster data access than with a magnetic hard drive.

More Reliable

In a typical magnetic hard drive there are more chances the parts may be damaged due to the way it is built with platters, and all the small and fragile parts. With an SSD though, there is less chance of damage and/or failure.

Should You Buy An SSD?

Like I said, solid state drives have been around for a while. So why don't all computers have them then? Well, simply because of cost. They cost more than a typical hard drive as you can imagine, so you won't get as much capacity for your money. But like all new technology the cost is slowly dropping and soon they will become a cost-effective option for most computer builders.

So, if you have the money to spare at the moment and want the latest in storage technology for your computer or laptop then go for it. But if you're after the very best value for money storage or you need a huge amount of storage and don't want to pay an arm and a leg, stick with a standard hard drive for now until the prices of SSDs fall.

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About the Author

Former hobbyist game programmer turned tech fanatic, Julz is the founder and lead author at BGC and has kept a keen eye on the latest in DIY gaming since starting the site in his spare time over a decade ago as an almost-laughably basic, unimpressive little site with a simple aim to try and make building a PC more accessible to the average gamer since most resources were far from beginner-friendly.

Over countless reiterations to the quality and depth of the site's content and research process over the years, it's steadily grown into the fairly expansive, comprehensive and constantly-updated PC building resource that it is today, now reaching and helping thousands of gamers and power users each and every month to more effectively plan optimal setups for their exact needs. His fav PC games of all time are HL1, WC3 and SWKOTOR (OOT, Perfect Dark, DKC2 & MGS2 for consoles) and he promises never to speak in third-person again. You can learn more about the BGC mission here.