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Is SSD the best disk for your laptop?

ssd disk drive isolated on laptop
(Photo: Envato Elements)
ssd disk drive isolated on laptop

Jean-Claude Elias

The writer is a computer engineer and a classically trained pianist and guitarist. He has been regularly writing IT articles, reviewing music albums, and covering concerts for more than 30 years.

Ultimate speed, complete silence, and extended battery life. This is what SSD (Solid State Drive) storage devices bring to your laptop computer, so you would be tempted to believe that it could easily beat the older HDD (Hard Disk Drive) type.اضافة اعلان

As is often the case with technology, the answer is not as simple as consumers wish it were. Still, today one is more likely to order an SSD, or buy a laptop that already is fitted with one, not an HDD. The former makes up about 90 percent of total sales.

Though the earliest SSD models date back to the 1990s, the current NAND type came to the market only around 2005, and has been widely adopted since, essentially in the realm of mobile computing. As for HDDs, they have been around forever. Well, circa 1956 to be precise, with the outdated technology, but those based on the more modern GMR (Giant Magneto Resistance) were introduced circa 1988.

The comparison between HDD and SSD, and the consequential heated debate about the subject, reached the peak five years ago. Surprisingly, despite the almost universal adoption of SSDs by now, the discussion is still going on. They are faster, do not have any moving parts (hence the silence), consume less electric power than their counterpart (hence the laptop battery’s longer life), and are lighter, making the entire device more portable, even more mobile.

Unfortunately, for identical storage capacity, they are also twice as expensive. But this last point does not seem to deter buyers; what they tend to lose sleep over are other technical characteristics, understandably, which are the overall reliability, and the ability to keep data safe for years.

Indeed, data security is everybody’s concern. Whether the files you saved on disk and that you care for are last year’s summer vacation photos, your family or personal medical records, your bank account statements or your passwords database, digital data is the precious content that we all worry about these days.

A fully detailed technical comparison between the reliability of the current crop of HDDs and SSDs would not be relevant here. It involves complex measurements and, more importantly, statistics collected over a wide range of equipment and several years.
Whether the files you saved on disk and that you care for are last year’s summer vacation photos, your family or personal medical records, your bank account statements or your passwords database, digital data is the precious content that we all worry about these days.
Statistics based on usage are actually the only way that manufacturers can provide us with figures about the real useful life of digital devices that we can expect.

In summary, what stats are telling us is that the long-term reliability of HDDs and SSDs varies depending on whether we are talking of good long-term conservation of data, or of intensive usage, such as very frequent save, read, erase, etc., on a daily basis.

The most recent statistics indicate that in the first case, SSDs fare better, whereas HDDs would win. But, and here is the most interesting part, the difference in all cases is minimal, insignificant, and is not a decisive factor.

Some solid facts may help make a choice. It has become standard in mobile computing to have two disks in a laptop or desktop machine: an SSD to hold the operating system (Windows, Mac OS), for fast boot and application launching, and an HDD for user data storage. The industry, and most IT pundits, believe this is the smartest solution.

Another interesting fact that may shed more light on the topic and would perhaps come as an example to follow for home users is that until about 2020, IT professionals would categorically refuse to install SSDs in server computers. It is just “not serious” they believe; better keep it at private consumer level, for personal laptop usage. Recently, however, we have started seeing SSDs in servers. The same approach as for laptops has been adopted there: SSDs for the operating system, and HDDs for other files and data storage. Based on experience, and statistics, this hybrid solution appears to be the norm today.


Jean-Claude Elias is a computer engineer and a classically trained pianist and guitarist. He has been regularly writing IT articles, reviewing music albums, and covering concerts for more than 30 years.


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