What is a Solid-State Drive (SSD), Benefits and Disadvantages

The SSD or Solid-state disk is a data storage device that relies entirely on semiconductor components to store information. Unlike the traditional mechanical hard disk drives have rotating magnetic platters and head readers, the SSDs do not have any moving parts. They are not only smaller but have much faster read and write operations than the HDD equivalents. This makes the computers and machines equipped with SSDs to operate several times than those with hard disk drives.

For example, a core i5 laptop with 8GB RAM, and a 5400 RPM hard disk will typically load Mircosoft Word 2016 in 31.9 seconds and in 1.8 seconds with a solid-state disk. With the SSD, the load time for Excel drops from 19.9s to 1.8s while the Chrome browser goes down from 14 seconds to 1.1 seconds.

Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2 NVMe SSD

Generally, the computers run faster with SSDs but they cost more. However, the prices for the SSDs are still dropping and becoming affordable for consumer devices such as laptops and desktop computers. The technology is also available for commercial applications such as industrial storage, embedded systems, communications, data centers, and more.

Because of high prices, most consumer computers still rely on HDDs. However, the newer models are using a combination of the two technologies. This involves using a smaller and faster SSD drive such as 250GB for the operating systems and applications, and then a bigger but slower hard disk for data storage.

Types of SSD drives

The solid-state disks are also known as flash drives or solid-state drives. There are different types of SSD technologies, interfaces, and form factors. These may also differ in terms of physical size, capacity, speed, costs, and application. Some of the common types include;

1.         SATA III

2.         PCIe

3.         M.2

4.         NVMe


These are similar to the normal laptop hard drives in physical appearance, dimensions, and interface. Generally, the SATA is usually the lowest grade and slowest of all the SSDs. Despite this, they still provide a better performance, and computers using the SATA SSD have faster read and write operations that provides three to four times more bandwidth than when using the normal SATA hard drive. The SATA SSDs are also cheaper than other types of solid-state drives and common in most consumer applications such as laptops and desktop computers.

Kingston SATA 3 SSD
Kingston SATA 3 SSD

Benefits of SSD

In addition to faster speeds, the solid-state drives have low failure rates and longer service lives. Typical benefits of SSDs over the traditional HDDs include;

  • The solid-state drives have much faster than HDDs. Consequently, the operating systems and applications computers using the SSDs will load and run faster than those using equivalent HDDs.
  • No moving parts, hence better performance, and quiet operation. Moreover, it uses solid-state based flash memory to store the data
  • Consumes less energy than an HDD hence lowering power requirements and extending the battery life of laptops and other mobile devices. This also translates to lower energy bills and environmental benefits
  • Smaller physical size and lightweight. This allows manufacturers to build powerful, smaller, ultra-thin, and light machines. A typical SSD measures 2.5″, 1.8″, and 1.0″
  • Less heat dissipation hence extended lifespan and reduced cooling requirements. On the other hand, the HDD has moving parts that lead to heat dissipation and faster component degradation
  • The SSD is immune to magnetic fields unlike the HDD which relies on magnetism. As such, strong external magnets near the HDD can erase the stored data.

Disadvantages of solid-state disks

  • The SSDs are expensive than HDDs: Generally, the solid-state drives are more costly than equivalent hard disk drives.
  • Data Storage issues – writing and erasing data to the memory cells is usually a complex process.
  • Difficult data recovery: Recovering data from a crashed SSD is more difficult than from a normal HDD. In most cases, the recovery is impossible from the damaged flash memory.