What is... an SSD?

Ever wondered what makes some modern computers faster than others? More often than not, it’s all about the storage under the hood. We recently explained how RAM is short term memory - well storage is the long term memory.

Storage usually either comes as either a hard drive or Solid State Drive. That’s right, not all computers have what we call a ‘hard drive’, crazy eh? SSD (Solid State Drive) is a much more modern technology that it’s more traditional counterpart, the humble hard drive.

Simply put, as all your data and windows or even macOS live on the hard drive or SSD the efficiency of the drive impacts performance of your computer as a whole significantly.

So now we know that much, what is the difference?

Physical Size:
Typically SSDs are in a 2.5” in size, this means you can fit more in a smaller space than typical hard drives which are 3.5” in size.

SSDs blazing speed are linked to the fact there are no moving parts, they’re all chips and therefore are not constrained by the limitations of their counterpart, hard drives which have spinning platters.

This speed increase is on average is 5-6 times faster than a hard-drive which spin at speeds of 5400-7200 RPM and can generate data transfer speeds of up-to 100 megabytes per second whilst SSDs can pump out 500+ megabytes per second.

Tolerance for failure:
Hard drives have been the go-to media for decades due to their ability to tolerate failure by pooling them together as one unit (that’s called RAID but trust us that’s another story for another day).

Solid state drives not only have a tolerance for failure but they can handle significantly more failure before starting to degrade with even just a single SSD.

Ultimately we like to compare the technology to car engines and in summary it comes down to this.
Hard drives are like a 1.3L Toyota Corolla, while they might last a while they don't tend to hold up when speed is key.

Solid State Drives are basically a super-charged V8 which can increase your computer's performance including boot up times and responsiveness when opening applications or even loading large files.

Fun fact:
A common misconception is the ‘hard drive’ is the actual computer, when it's actually only a small part of the computer and the only moving part (excluding fans, of course).

Breda Cahill