SSDs – Replacing Hard Drives in Sensitive Places

The unique characteristics of Solid State Drives (SSDs) discussed in earlier blogs give it strong advantages in many areas.

For example, its lack of moving parts makes it valuable in applications where hard disks would potentially fail because of shock or vibration.  A typical hard disk drive’s spinning platters and flying heads are susceptible to wearing out over time and failing under extreme conditions whereas a solid state drive is more reliable.  A few examples of extreme conditions:

  • Storage in laptop computers that are used at worksites, used in moving vehicles, or even carried by students from classroom to classroom.
  • Storage embedded into medical systems or other equipment that may be subject to accidental drops or collisions.
  • Storage that are used to transport data between different locations
  • Storage that are often replaced or swapped

For many of the applications noted above, the SSD’s low power consumption is also a significant benefit.  Because the devices into which the SSDs are installed may be portable, and may often be run on battery power, being able to use the lower power SSDs can ultimately enable these devices to run for longer time between charges.  SSDs are also better than typical hard disk drives in portable applications because they are typically smaller and lighter than comparable HDDs.  SSDs do not need many of the heavier components in HDDs.

High performance computing systems that require fast boot times and fast data access benefit from the faster access times that are provided by SSDs.  Unlike HDDs, SSDs do not require any time to “spin-up”.  Data access times are quicker since there are no mechanical parts (heads) to position.  SSD drives can be used for fast booting, and for launching or running applications that require very fast access to memory.  An SSD can be used to boot the computer, run the operating system and run programs while Standard hard disk drives can be used for storing data that may not be as frequently used. Laptop computers or field computing systems also benefit from the fast booting and the fast launching of applications that SSDs provide.  For many systems, the SSD may be the only drive installed.

The industry appears to be focusing a great deal of energy in creating a wide range of SSDs – with varying sizes, and increasing storage capacities.  While many of the smaller form factor SSDs use the MicroSATA connector, 2.5” drives often use standard SATA connectors just like their traditional hard disk drive counterparts.  PCIe SSDs have also emerged, which take advantage of PCIe technology to create devices with transfer rates higher than what is supported by the SATA spec.

To support migration of systems to SSD, Aleratec offers a hard disc duplicator, the HDD PortaCruiser (part number 350108) that can duplicate both SATA and microSATA drives (microSATA requires an optional adapter). For an organization that is looking to take advantage of the benefits of SSDs by installing them into notebook or desktop computers, the PortaCruiser can simplify the process.

Mark Brownstein is a technology journalist and technology consultant who specializes in explaining and interpreting new technologies, and clarifying how to integrate these new products into current systems. He has been Editor-In-Chief at computer technology and networking publications, has held significant editorial positions at major technology magazines, and is a frequent contributor to various technology magazines. He has written seven books. He is Microsoft Certified, and spends much of his time testing hardware and software products, running his own networks, and learning the best ways to get computer systems running and to keep them running.

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