What is SSD storage?

Do you know your SSD from your HDD? Do you know how SSDs store your data and why they run faster? If you still need to brush up on your understanding, this article has got you covered. You’ll learn all about Solid State Drives, how they should fit into your storage infrastructures, and why they’re a great way to get your computer running faster.

Key takeaways

  • SSD stands for ‘Solid State Drive’
  • SSDs rely on ‘flash-memory chips’ to store data
  • SSDs are efficient, durable, and don’t require a constant power source to store data

What is a Solid State Drive?

A Solid State Drive (‘SSD’), also known as a ‘semiconductor storage device’ or ‘solid state device’, is a newer generation secondary storage device for computers.

SSDs are known for their compact size, power efficiency, durability, and high-speed access and retrieval times.

How do SDDs work?

SDDs perform the same function as conventional hard drives, but faster. Let’s take a look at how SSDs actually work to understand why.

SSDs have no mechanical moving parts. Instead, most SSDs store data on flash-memory chips. You can compare these to RAM (random access memory).

These flash-memory chips are known as ‘NAND’ and are arranged in grids or blocks. SSDs differ depending on the number of bits that can be stored in each chip or ‘cell’. You’ll see mention of single-bit up to two, three or four-bit cells, which can hold between 1 – 4 bits of data. Single-bit cells tend to be the most reliable, durable, and fast, but come with a higher price tag.

The SSD’s controller or ‘processor’ is the key component in controlling the write/read functions of your storage device. An SSD’s essentially instantaneous access times come down to the controller.

Flash-memory SSDs are ‘non-volatile’, so can continue to store data even when there is no power source. SSDs tend to be smaller and more compact, which means that they are also extremely compatible with more portable devices like laptops or tablets.

All in all, the speed capacity of SSDs makes them an attractive option for organizations that can’t afford delays when booting up applications or transferring a lot of data.

What is an SSD interface?

The interface that connects the SSD to your computer also majorly affects the speed of data transfer. An SSDs interface will influence how much data can be transmitted in a given time period (this is called ‘bandwidth’), as well as how much delay you experience between the request for data being sent out and the data actually being transferred (‘latency’).

SSDs with PCIe interfaces deliver the fastest speeds thanks to the numerous data transfer channels contained by the PCIe.

How do HDDs work?

By contrast to SDDs, rather than flash memory, HDDs have spinning disks or ‘platters’ that read and write your data. The speed of an HDD relates directly to how many rotations these disks can make every minute. HDDs have ‘heads’ or ‘transducers’ that read and write your data.

In comparison to SDDs, HDDs are more ‘mechanical’ with several moving parts working together to deliver, store, and modify your data. For this reason, they are typically less efficient when locating and retrieving your data. Plus, the delicate moving parts make HDDs more vulnerable to being damaged if they’re dropped or roughly handled.

SSD vs HDD: What are the key differences?

Although they perform the same function, as we’ve seen, SDDs and HDDs are actually not quite the same thing. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

  • SDDs rely on newer technology than HDDs
  • SDDs boast quicker access times and lower latency than HDDs
    It can be tricky to find larger capacity SSDs compared to HDDs
  • SDDs do not need a constant power source to store data
  • SSDs use flash-based memory versus HDDs which use spinning disks or ‘platters’
  • SDDs are typically more resistant to damage or rough handling
  • SDDs run more quietly, vibrate less, and are lighter and more compact than HDDs
  • SDDs tend to be more expensive than HDDs
  • SSDs may degrade with usage over time

Who uses SDDs?

SSDs and HDDs store data in different ways. Both have their particular advantages and disadvantages, and their suitability will depend on the environment and user. SSDs are known as a surefire way to help speed up your computer, so on an individual level, this is a great solution for slow-running desktops.

SSDs are particularly useful for businesses and enterprises. Organizations that have and handle a lot of data need storage solutions that offer high speeds, reliability, efficiency, and good performance. Plus, the durability of SDDs, as well as the ability to store data without power, help protect sensitive data from being lost through physical damage or power cuts. In addition, SSDs boast near-instantaneous access times meaning, for example, that file transfers can be completed rapidly.

That being said, it’s critical to know that NAND Flash-based SSDs leak charge over time if they’re disconnected from power for a long time. This makes them suitable for active use, but not so good for archival storage. Plus, the higher capacity of HDDs (at a lower price) makes them a far more attractive option in certain use cases.

The future of SSDs

SDDs haven’t completely taken over the market just yet. And with cloud-based storage on the rise, it probably won’t. That being said, local storage is likely to always play an important role to some extent, and as SDDs become more common, prices will be driven down. Their reliability, speed, efficiency, and durability make SSDs preferable for large organizations with big data storage needs. To stay on top of data storage solutions, MSPs should know their SDDs from their HDDs.

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