An SSD is the best upgrade your computer can get

I tend to avoid sticking acronyms in headings. But writing Solid State Drive (SSD) would look awful in the title. But if you haven’t heard of these drives, then you might want to read on. Because adding one (or more) to your computer will really give it a new lease on life.

Have you got an older computer that’s sitting around gathering cobwebs? Could your parents or grandparents do with a light duty desktop for basic web browsing or sharing /oldpeoplefaceook memes and fake news? Maybe you could modify it into a home server or media storage device? Well you could make such an old PC feel young again with an SSD. But first, why would anybody recommend one?

A classic platter hard drive. Solid, dependable, but slow.

Traditional hard disks are relatively large and chunky things. Inside them a series of platters are spinning around. The data on such a drive is stored magnetically and can be written, rewritten and read by the heads contained in the drive. Think of a platter working like a CD. The speed at which data on these types of drives can be read depends on how fast the motor can spin the platters. Speed comes with compromise though, including generating a lot of heat and the potential for component failure.

However an SSD has no moving parts. They are literally a slab of non-volatile memory that can store data persistently. Because there are no moving parts, reading and writing data on to them is not dependent on being able to access the right areas of a spinning disk at the right time. It’s still not infinitely quick, but it will work much, much faster.

There are two main types of SSD. The normal type uses SATA for data transfer. The second, NVME, uses your computer’s PCI Express bus and is the fastest commercially available consumer drive.

Let’s compare the relative read and write speeds of different kinds of hard drives:

7200 RPM HDDSolid State DriveNVME Solid State Drive
Read speed MB/sUp to 1005503,500
Write speed MB/sUp to 1005202,300
An NVME drive that uses an M.2 interface.

As you can see the normal platter drives achieve nowhere near the kinds of speeds that SSDs can. It’s this kind of difference in reading and writing speeds that makes a computer feel so much faster with an SSD. These types of drives typically use the M.2 interface on a motherboard.

However don’t think that rushing out to buy an NVMe SSD will actually make any difference in the real world. They are fast, but you might not notice any difference in real world usage. On the other hand the prices of SSDs have dropped remarkably recently and it probably won’t matter if you buy an NVME drive. However, be certain that your motherboard has an M.2 port, otherwise you will need to get an adapter.

So whatever you do, think about whether your computers could do with a relatively minor spruce up before you throw it out. An SSD could end up giving your gear a new lease on life.

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