Tech Talk: Solid State Hard Drives


[Continuing this week’s featured post series about technology that Hoboken residents may be using or thinking about using…]

I love my SSD!

Back in 2007, I took the plunge and bought a new Windows Vista PC. The computer lasted *almost* three years, before it stared getting overloaded to the point where work was next to impossible to complete. Other than the whacked-out state of the operating system after years of continual use – the most aggravating aspect of that dying system was the constant hard drive noise while it searched and seeked for data to complete simple operations. I never wanted to hear another hard drive churn ever again.

Now that we’re in 2010 – the cost of solid state hard drives (similar to memory cards in your camera) have become much more affordable for the regular computer user.

Why SSD?

Solid state hard drives have no moving parts. Just like your digital camera cards – but much bigger, and designed to be plugged inside your PC or notebook just like a regular hard drive. So to me, this elimination in annoying crunching sounds was priceless.

Another benefit to SSD hard drives is they make laptop computer batteries last longer, because of the lower power requirements. They also boot much faster.

Kingston makes a great laptop SSD drive replacement – that even helps you transfer your entire existing disk, data and operating system to the new drive an extremely painless process.

There are some caveats to switching to SSD drives you should be aware of. For one, there is some debate about their longevity. While the manufacturers say they can last a decade or longer, others say the volatility of flash memory is suspect and could start failing sooner than you’d expect. Which is why it’s important to have a firm backup plan in place.

And while the data access is “nearly instant,” the overall “throughput” is not on par with the fastest magnetic hard disks on the market.

Lastly, the cost is still somewhat prohibitive, and you won’t be able to get the 1TB or 2TB sizes which are cheaply available now in standard disks for quite a while.

Are you a fan of SSD hard drives?

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6 Comments on "Tech Talk: Solid State Hard Drives"

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I’m picking up an Intel X25-M 80GBI and an Icy 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter for my Mac Pro, which is used for music/sound design and runs Pro Tools, Kontakt, and tons of other plugins and soft synths.

Since my system drive is actually quite small, I’ll only need to keep it about 50% full, or 40GB, this will be SSD. The rest of the rig needs large amounts of HDD storage (6TB) for streaming full bandwidth samples and audio.

In short, I expect a slight performance boost from the SSD system drive running my apps, but I’m drooling at the thought of having 8TB of streaming SSD based audio someday.


You actually can get 1TB SSD drives. There niche class of SSD drives that plug into a PCI Express port rather than the traditional SATA port. I know OCZ ( and FusionIO ( make products in this category.

Nevertheless, there are problems with this class of drives. The costs is prohibitive for most – think $1500 to $4000. Second, a person spending this much on a drive, likely has bonded pair of video cards and very few motherboards come with more than two PCI Express ports.


SSD has been around for years. The price demand curve never catches up. In a few years the size you want now may be afordable, but by then you will need ten times the space for the new things you are doing.

SSD is popular in large scale systems as a performance tool for temporary storage.

Windows 7 actually can be boosted quite a bit by plugging in a high speed USB stick. You dedicate it to ready boost for system performance. Vista had this feature but it didn’t work very well. In windows 7 you get a big boost with very little cost.


I need to investigate a solid-state drive. My external hard drive, which is about three years old, is doing some serious creaking, groaning and moaning. I have everything backed up, but I still don’t need the aggravation if it decides to suddenly drop dead.