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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fragmentation and Solid State Drive Prominence

Ever threw your clothes around in the room, and regretted it when you came home and had to find that one piece of clothing you wanted to wear?

That's pretty much what your traditional hard drive has to go through every day when you use your computer. It happens because of file fragmentation. In order to retrieve information for a single file, that file may be broken into several "parts" which are stored on different parts of the hard drive. Once the hard disk spins enough times for the head to read all of the parts and "find" the file, you're probably wondering why your computer is getting slower.

Fragmentation is common on almost all applications. From databases to consumer computers. Defragmenting a computer is usually the first and most reliable solution to fix this solution. Think of defragmentation as if a maid always stayed in your room and kept your clothes organized (wouldn't we all love that?). The problem with defragmentation is that it usually takes a long time.

However, with Solid State Drives--which are quickly gaining prominence--defragmenting the drive takes much less time than a traditional hard drive. Since there are no moving discs in a Solid State Drive (think of it like a giant flash drive), the problem with the head "searching" for the missing parts no longer occurs. Technically, it does still occur, but with significantly less delay. In addition, SSDs are simply much faster with fragmentation than traditional hard drives, because of their non-moving spindles and memory modules.



Top: traditional hard drive. Bottom: Solid State Drive. Source: macperformanceguide.com

When SSDs first came out, they were very expensive with little capacity. Recently however, SSDs have finally been introduced into laptops as part of a standard configuration for some models. As SSDs gain more market share, we can all be guaranteed a smoother computer experience, as read times are significantly reduced with SSDs (near instantaneous program starts, boots, and other things we do every day).

Today, an average SSD costs more than the average hard drive. Is it worth the current price premium? I think it is. When SSD prices drop even further, the choice will be almost no choice at all as SSDs do nearly everything better than traditional hard drives.

Originally designed by IBM in 1954 (yes, 1954), the hard drive is old technology.

The good news is that I believe we are all seeing the transition of another obsolete medium for storing and retrieving data, being replaced with something significantly better in performance.

Who knows, maybe one day you can tell your kids: "Can you believe it? We used hard disks that actually spun inside our computers at your age."

24 comments:

  1. I can believe telling kids that, I had teachers tell me about their slide rules. So I imagine by then, the computers kids have might be a step beyond that. Perhaps quantum or bio computers will be available by then. I do know that, if I have the money, my next laptop is going to be an SSD. It doesn't even need to be a large drive, with the prevalence of massive external hard drives, I got a 2TB Fantom for Christmas. I've only filled 1/10th of it.

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  2. Ohhh, thanks a lot for this, I only just recently came to hear about SSD's and I was wondering what the difference was. I like your detailed explanation and example, it was very informative.

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  3. I really want to get a SSD ever since I learned about them. They are so much better than traditional Hard Drives and they will only improve with time.

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  4. good hard drives, but i always defrag my hard drives every week so it doesnt take too long.

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  5. im going to start defragging more often
    i always wanted to get an SSD but never seem to do it

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  6. Would love to have an SSD, can't afford it yet. I think traditional hard-drives will still be used for mass storage though. don't know the limits to that.

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  7. I'll buy an SSD when its more affordable

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  8. Yeah SSD is the way to go man. Just got mine yesterday!

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  9. SSD is the future, but yet the future is quite expensive.

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  10. I use Defraggler to defragmentate my HDD!

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  11. I just do the defragmentation during the night, so it doesn't really bother my work.

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  12. Defragging really speeds up my laptop! thanks for sharing!

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  13. haha, someone gave us an old 80s CorData portable PC. It looks like the hard drive is ruined because they didn't put the hard drive "writer" in the locked position before moving it around! Solid states are much more reliable than that! =D

    I made a new daily blog, check it out!
    technicolortypecastdaily.blogspot.com

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  14. need to defrag my laptop, last time i did it was 2 months ago.

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  15. Wow, the first hard drive was designed in 1954? I never knew that.

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  16. SSDs are going to be interesting

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  17. i boot from ssd and have media on 2tb hdd. i can recommend o&o defrag as the best ive ever used ;)

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  18. never defrag an SSD its a waste of its read write lifetime. i dont have one but i would use it specifically for the operating system, however some of the files would need to be moved to a separate hard drive. if you plan on using an SSD then i suggest that you do a lot of research first about what you should and should not put on it. not setting files up properly can lead to a very short lifespan.

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  19. I knew that defragging helped me out; I just didn't know why. Now I do - thanks!

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  20. I actually don't believe SSDs would ever become a mass-device

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