What is an SSD and why do I need one?

Every computer has to store data somewhere. In the early days of computing they used paper punch cards. Then reel-to-reel tape drives. Then magnetic floppy disk drives. Then mechanical hard disk drives (HDD’s for short) which is still the standard. Chances are if you’re reading this post on a desktop or laptop computer, you are using a hard disk drive right now. HDD’s are great because they can store significantly more data than punch cards, tape, or floppies, and they can read and write data much faster.

But HDD’s are not without their limitations… They’re built similarly to an old school record player. A disk spins around (called a platter,) while a needle (called a head) reads the information on it. Unlike a record player which spins at 45 revolutions-per-minute, an HDD spins at 5,400 – 10,000 RPM. That’s fast. Also unlike a record player, the head doesn’t actually touch the platter, but sits nanometers above it. In order for your computer to read data from the drive, the head must move into the correct position over the platter, and wait for the platter to spin around to the correct spot. This takes a few milliseconds, which doesn’t seem like much time, but it adds up. In addition to taking time to find data, hard drives are notoriously unreliable… If the disk gets jostled while the platter is spinning all data is lost. If the bearings go out the platter stops spinning and all data is lost. If the arm sticks and the head cannot pass freely over the platter all data is lost. And if the head touches the platter while it is spinning all data is lost.


Enter the Solid State Disk, or SSD for short. Unlike HDD’s, SSD’s have no moving parts like platters and heads, instead they store data on transistor chips. The result is a drive that can read and write data much faster, because it doesn’t have to wait for the head and platter to move into the correct position. Also because they have no moving parts they last much longer and have a lower rate of failure than HDD’s. The only reason HDD’s are still the standard is that SSD’s still have a relatively high cost per gigabyte, and their storage space is still less than HDD’s. But that’s changing, new SSD’s are cheaper than they were just last year, and the storage space continues to increase. Many people who have been waiting to switch have decided that now is the time.

If you care about your computer’s performance call Shreveport Fix IT today. One of our technicians will install a brand new SSD in your system to get you speeds you never knew your machine was capable of.

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