Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Apr 12, 2010
A little over a week ago I wrote a post about this hard drive that I was going to be buying for myself, the Apricorn secure hard drive. For me, it’s a needed commodity to protect some of the confidential information given to me by my clients, as well as one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
Yet, there’s something else that’s been on my mind lately that I want to talk about. That’s this thing called solid state hard drives. From what I’m understanding, solid state drives are much faster, much more durable, and definitely much lighter than conventional hard drives. This last one I can easily confirm because while I was out of town, someone allowed me to pick up their relatively new laptop, and it had almost no weight to it.
What makes it durable? It has no moving parts and is smaller and more contained. You know that noise you hear when you turn on your computer? That’s the hard drive and fan powering things up, but mainly it’s the hard drive. With solid state drives, you barely hear anything.
As for it being faster, well, I haven’t seen that in person, but research indicates that, depending on what you’re testing it against, in some instances it’s a bit more than twice the speed of a traditional hard drive, and more than three times as fast in other tests.
How does solid state technology work? I have to admit that one is beyond me, not knowing anything about electronics, but I’ll make kind of a comparison. For those folks old enough to remember, televisions used to contain these big tubes, multiple tubes, which powered the television and produced the images. By the late 70’s, tubes had been replaced by transistors, kind of flat panels that could handle all of that stuff. The same thing occurred with radios, and many of us remember that we could finally walk around with these small, light radios when they became transistor radios; before that, we couldn’t easily walk around with our music.
Anyway, solid state drives are something like that. Instead of spinning plates and the like, it’s something like transistors that’s replaced them. That means you can’t shake them and damage them, don’t have to worry as much about an electric shock destroying one, and it would take a lot for it to burn out like hard drives do now, since they don’t heat up the same way.
What’s the catch? Right now, solid state drives can cost tons more than regular drives. You can get a 300GB hard drive for less than $100 in many circumstances nowadays. A 120GB solid state drive will cost you at least $250; that’s kind of steep. The price of some drives is even higher. Of course, most people will never use more than 50GB, but that’s not quite the point. We all have our reasons for wanting something different. The friend who showed me his laptop, which weighs less than 2 pounds overall, travels a lot, and he can just toss it into a shoulder bag and go on his way, instead of having to put it in a bag like mine, which weighs about 7 pounds on its own.
Think I’m kidding? Ask yourself why the laptop below costs so much with only a 128GB hard drive; it’s not just because it’s a MacBook.