why you need an ssd

Is your computer setup equipped with solid state storage (SSD), or are you still relying on an old school hard disk drive (HDD) for storage? While there’s nothing wrong with using an HDD for massive bulk storage—terabytes worth of video and music, for example—if you don’t have at least one SSD as part of your setup, you are missing out. Solid state computer storage is more affordable than ever, so there’s no excuse not to upgrade to a far better PC experience.

Your OS and important files should be installed on an SSD

Looking first at your computer itself, you will see a significant performance boost if you install the operating system (along with the applications and files you use most) on an SSD. 

Hard drives can’t get a lot faster than they already are. In fact, most speed gains in recent years are attributable to manufacturers incorporating small amounts of solid state storage in HDDs for fast access to recently used files. SSDs on the other hand are constantly getting faster. The latest generation of M.2 SSDs employ a potent combination of parallel processing and low latency for a maximum theoretical data throughput of 32 Gbit/s. More importantly (at least in terms of your computer feeling much zippier) is that the SSD allows the computer to find and read files much more quickly than an HDD.

why you need an ssdGo with an SSD as your computer’s boot drive instead of an HDD and that means startup takes a fraction of the time, while overall PC performance (Windows or Mac) is going to feel snappier.

You can read more about the performance advantages of an SSD here. And if you’re concerned about the difficulty of upgrading your computer or laptop’s HDD to solid state storage, check out my post from a few years ago (complete with video) demonstrating just how easy it is to make the swap. Ff you still don’t feel up to tackling the project, Geek Squad is always there as your expert computer support team, and they’ll be able to take care of it for you.

Other SSD advantages

The advantages of SSDs extend beyond simply being an order of magnitude faster than HDD storage.

why you need an ssdHDDs use a complex series of moving, mechanical components. The disk platter is spun on a spindle by a motor, usually at 5,400 or 7,200 rpm. A read/write head zips around over the surface of the platter. That is a lot of moving pieces, and a great deal of precision required. Sometimes all it takes is a good bump to knock things out of alignment and damage the hard drive. Drop it and you’re likely looking at catastrophic failure of the drive. All that movement means noise, and it also takes power to keep the motors going. And the combination of moving components and power usage adds up to heat. If you look at the top of an external HDD, chances are the entire surface is covered with cooling slots in an effort to get rid of that heat.

An SSD is solid state storage. There are literally no moving parts. As a result, an SSD is much more rugged and tolerant of accidental bumps. Operation is silent and it also uses less power and runs cooler. And because an SSD is essentially a series of chips, it takes up less physical space.

Any computer or system will benefit from these SSD advantages, although some—like the increased durability, lower temperature, lower power use and smaller physical size—make SSDs an even bigger win for laptops. That’s why solid state storage has been practically the default storage option on recent generations of laptops.

The cost of solid state storage keeps going down

When they first began to go mainstream, SSDs were expensive. Prohibitively so. Despite the benefits, they simply weren’t practical for many applications. I remember buying my first SSD for a laptop and having to go with a 40GB model, because the price jump to 160GB was extreme. After the upgrade, that laptop was really fast, but only had the storage capacity for the operating system and a few key applications.

Today, with SSDs incredibly popular and manufacturers ramping up production, the cost difference has dropped to the point where the premium for solid state storage is negligible. Especially in drives with a capacity of 1TB or less — the perfect size for a laptop drive replacement or as a primary drive for a desktop PC.

In addition the dropping prices has made an entire category of SSDs possible that wasn’t even on the radar a few years ago: portable and external SSDs.

Portable and external SSDs

Solid state storage makes for some really cool possibilities when it comes to portable drives. You get wicked speed, but those other SSD advantages—including small physical size and cool operation—make for some really interesting form factors.

why you need an ssdMany external SSDs set a new high bar for portability, with high capacity drives that can literally fit in the palm of your hand, or slip into a pocket.  Naturally, there are rugged options as well, including drives like the SanDisk Extreme that’s not only shock-resistant, but also able to withstand exposure to water and dust as well. With no need to worry about having cooling vents, the Seagate One Touch external SSD is the size of a credit card and covered with a cool textile treatment—looking at it, you wouldn’t even know this was a portable drive!

why you need an ssdThe combination of high capacity, compact size, durability, and ultra-fast data access makes external SSDs ideal for gaming as well. An entire game library can be stored, then pocketed and moved from one PC or console to another as needed.

One thing to keep in mind when considering an external SSD is connection speed. Many portable and external SSDs offer USB 3.0 or USB-C connectivity in order to take full advantage of that solid state speed. If you connect to the USB 2.0 port on an older PC, you won’t get the full benefit of the speed.

Next steps

Is it time to embrace solid state storage for your computer setup? If so, Best Buy has you covered with a huge selection of SSDs for your computer or laptop, including external SSDs to complement your existing computer setup.

Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.


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