What do I need to know about Solid-State Drives (SSD)?
Solid-State Drives are a great new way to have a very fast disk. Unfortunately there are issues you should be aware of. SSDs are just very large flash memory drives. Flash memory has a limited number of Writes - Program/Erase cycles (P/E) usually about 5000 times each bit can be write/erased. While this sounds very limited, modern drives have software which will spread the writes across the drive. The exact number depends on a number of factors and type of memory. Single Layer cell (SLC) memory can handle more P/E cycles than Multilayer cell (MLC) memory.
Earlier models of drives were failing early - often in 1 to 3 years. When they failed, they would die completely, you would not be able to recover any data. Later models are proving more reliable but you should always do your research before buying one. Pick one which has good feedback from users and reviews. The OCZ Vertex 3 is one good choise.
Solid-State drives are best used for the Operating System when you want to boot quickly.
When using a SSD you should follow some useage guidelines:
- Backup Backup Backup!!! - same with any other hard drive.
- Never defragement the drive. SSDs have no moving parts eleminating the delay moving a head to the next byte so there is no gain in read speed. Defragmenting the SSD only increases the number of writes, shortening the life of the disk.
- Do not use hybernate. The hybernate file must be stored on the same disk as your OS. If you boot off the SSD then they hybernate file will be stored there and cause extra writes to the same locations.
- Minimize your virtual memory file or move it to a regular hard drive, again a source of a lot of writes to the same locations. Manually setting the file size small will force the OS to keep more of the running programs in RAM instead of swapping them to virtual memory.