|A long time now most PC's and laptop's have used mechanical hard drives that spin several platters inside with mechanical read/write heads to access/write the data. These are relatively slow for todays modern machines with fast DDR3 memory and processors.|
Solid state drives (SSD's) have been around a while but the cost of one with a decent size has put this out of the reach of most. Some companies have tried the hybird approach, a normal hard disk with the storage you need but some built in solid state memory to pre-load common applications to get a speed boost. Whilst quicker than standard drives they still did not reach the speeds SSD's can.
In the last couple of months the prices of SSD's have really dropped. For example you can now get a 120GB SATA III drive for £60. Whilst not a massive size compared to you 500GB or 1TB drives. In a PC it can be your windows drive and all your data can go on another bigger normal drive.
These drives in laptops have the added bonus of using less power, therefore extending your battery life and there is none of those little clicking noises, drive sounds you normally hear. Though that was often a good way to tell things were happening.
There are two things to be wary of with SSD's:
1) To get the best speed benefit your PC or laptop needs to support the SATA III or SATA 6GB/s interface. You will still get a benefit with the SATA I or SATA II but not to the same standard. So check your machine before you buy one and wonder why it's not that much quicker.
2) SSD drives SHOULD NOT BE defragged. There is no need first of all as all data access is instant. Also, if you do defrag it reduces the life of the drive.
By the end of the year we could be seeing bigger drives for more affordable prices too so keep an eye out. The speed difference really is amazing.
The PC Guy