Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Data Storage Hardware

Notebook Storage SSDs and HDs Compared 149

Posted by kdawson
from the now-what-would-you-pay dept.
The Raindog sends us a particularly timely showdown article comparing seven 2.5" mobile hard drives, four of them HDs and three SSDs, across a wide range of application, file-copy, power-consumption, and noise-level tests. Tom's Hardware was recently forced to issue a correction to a claim, which we discussed here, that SSDs aren't actually much more power-thrifty than HDs. The Tech Report's in-depth comparison provides some data points on the question of whether solid-state storage is ready to supplant traditional mechanical hard drives, but notes that the price disparity is still substantial.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Notebook Storage SSDs and HDs Compared

Comments Filter:
  • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:28PM (#24204541) Homepage
    It's the lack of moving parts. Try dropping both types repeatedly and see which one stops working first.
    • by MagdJTK (1275470) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:34PM (#24204667)

      Fair enough, but is this particularly relevant to the market? Sure, it would be nice, but would you rather pay a couple of hundred quid or just look after the computer in the first place?

      The way I see it is that geeks would replace their laptop early enough that the HD will probably last long enough and that casual users won't want the extra expense. I think to be honest, the performance difference is the only real advantage and as soon as the prices come down, I'm getting one!

      • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:42PM (#24204775) Homepage
        Depends on what you're doing. If you have a laptop that just travels between home, the office and maybe a cafe or two, then no. You don't need a solid state hard drive. If, however, you do a lot of traveling with your laptop, you may very well drop it once or twice, especially if you're hurried at an airport or some other such situation. Are SSDs for everyone? No, but for power users who are on the go a lot, they make your data a lot safer.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MagdJTK (1275470)
          Fair enough --- I can see how they would be very useful in the kind of environment the Panasonic Toughbook was designed for.
          • by nko321 (788903) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @07:26PM (#24205449) Homepage
            I have kids and it isn't an option for me to simply stop using the laptop when the two year olds are around. I need zilch for storage capacity and love longevity. $200 more for a notebook that lasts a year longer, speculatively speaking? Sign me up!
            • by adisakp (705706)
              FWIW, your screen is just as likely (if not more likely) to break / crack than the HD fail if you're dropping the laptop repeatedly unless you've paid a couple thousand extra for a ruggedized laptop.
              • by torkus (1133985)

                Depends on how it's hit. A drive mid-access is much more likely to take damage from a minor to moderate fall than a LCD.

                But besides that, the value of the data of many laptops is far greater than the cost of a screen replacement and SSD's are at least on price-parity with the cost of basic data recovery fees for platter-based hard drives.

                Oh, and you have the benefit of significantly faster data access in many/most cases.

          • I'm typing this now on a (business-rugged) Toughbook Y7. Panasonic is generally very hesistant to put cutting-edge technology such as SSD in their notebooks (their laptops are in precisely the market SSD would be most suitable for). As far as I know, none of Panasonic's notebook models even have SSD as an option at the moment (I don't believe even their new UMPC model will have it). Although Panasonic's chipset specs change incrementally, the basic design of the notebooks rarely changes. I would argue this
      • by kesuki (321456) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:48PM (#24204899) Journal

        flash based drives simplify mil spec laptops, though. imagine having to design a laptop with a conventional HDD knowing that it has to survive being thrown into the back of a jeep carelessly, or be able to still work after a soldier pile dived on top of it trying to avoid machine gun fire, or even expected to still work if it had taken a pretty big shock as a result of nearby artillery or grenade blasts.

        they used to have really good shock absorbing cages to protect the drive...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by AioKits (1235070)
          Out of curiosity, have you ever seen actual 'ruggedized' military equipment?

          Take a peek at these: http://www.amrel.com/federal_military_computer/rocky_patriot_rugged_notebook.html [amrel.com]

          This isn't even going into the fire systems equipment that is ruggedized.
          • by jdgeorge (18767)

            Curiously, this real world ruggedized example using HDD storage doesn't really seem relevant to the question of whether SSDs are suitable from a reliability perspective.... This example is existing equipment that meets requirements, and probably very sensitive to price (as there are undoubtedly other vendors who compete for similar business).

            Adding $200 or more to the cost of the device would likely price it out of most government bids if the reliability characteristics meet requirements.

      • by ichigo 2.0 (900288) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:55PM (#24205019)

        Sure, it would be nice, but would you rather pay a couple of hundred quid or just look after the computer in the first place?

        It's not really a matter of looking after the computer in the first place. There is demand for a rugged computer that can be manhandled without it breaking apart. When I come home I want to toss my computer on my desk like I do with my keys and wallet. After I've surfed a while I want to toss my computer on the coffee table like I do with magazines. The whole "holy laptop" approach where you have to carry it around on a silk cushion and press the keys one at a time so as not to hurt its feelings is the reason I've never bothered buying one.

        • by keytoe (91531) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @07:59PM (#24205855) Homepage

          When I come home I want to toss my computer on my desk like I do with my keys and wallet. After I've surfed a while I want to toss my computer on the coffee table like I do with magazines. The whole "holy laptop" approach where you have to carry it around on a silk cushion and press the keys one at a time so as not to hurt its feelings is the reason I've never bothered buying one.

          You know, there are degrees of ruggedness between carrying it on a pillow and beating the shit out of it. I've had a laptop at my side pretty much constantly for upwards of 10 years now. At no time have I ever treated it as anything other than a tool. I don't baby my tools. I don't coo to it wistfully at the end of the day. I don't 'press the keys one at a time'. I also don't fling it across the house - but I don't do that to my socket wrenches either.

          In all those 10 years of laptop lugging, I have never required any repairs or replacement due to mishaps. If you truly haven't bought a laptop because you picture them as fragile, I highly recommend you pick one up and give it a try. There is something to be said for carrying around a fully functional workstation wherever you go. Just remember that there is a continuum between 'holy laptop' and 'throw it across the room' - it's not a quantum step.

          • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @08:23PM (#24206105) Journal

            I've never had to repair anything due to mishaps, and I treat my laptop with reasonable care. However, I have had to replace two laptop hard drives on three occasions due to drive failures in the last ten years. Actually, make that two in the past five years, and none prior to that. One was an acoustic failure (loud, whining drive, but worked perfectly for the better part of a year in that state before I bothered to get it replaced). The other one... I put the machine to sleep, woke it up a minute later, and the drive wouldn't spin up, making a click-of-death "can't find track zero" noise. My suspicion is that it was a failure of the head due to abrasion as it drags across the ramp when parking.

            Mechanical failures don't just happen to people who abuse their machines. Yes, they happen much more frequently to people who treat their machines like excrement, but they also happen randomly for no apparent reason... usually due to flaws in the mechanical design. Some drives have bad ramps that put too much stress on the heads when they park. Some drives have bearings that eventually start to leak oil all over the disk surface. And so on. I'd be much happier if I never had to deal with a Winchester drive again... particularly in laptops.

            • by Malkin (133793)

              I've had a laptop fall a meter onto a hardwood floor in a foreign country, simply due to a mishap involving a large lacy doily on the top of the dresser in the room I was staying in. Humorously, the fall fixed more things than it broke. Years later, however, I had a laptop as my primary (and only) machine while living abroad, and it went everywhere with me. That was the one that had the hard drive failure, and THAT, above all else, is what makes me long for a hard drive without the moving parts.

          • I also don't fling it across the house - but I don't do that to my socket wrenches either.

            Yes, I don't fling my "socket wrenches" across the house either, at that point I refer to them as "what happens when dinner's not ready on time" or simply "reminders".

          • I also don't fling it across the house - but I don't do that to my socket wrenches either.

            You don't know what you are missing - a well flung socket wrench can inflict major damage to any household environment!

            1 Fling socket wrench

            2 ...

            3 Profiteroles

        • Who "tosses" their keys or wallet around, let alone a laptop? That's ridiculous.

          • by afidel (530433)
            Um, most people. I toss my keys and wallet onto the kitchen table or nightstand all the time. I also toss my laptop onto my bed all the time, of course it's a water bed and it's almost always powered off when I do it, but it would be nice to not have to worry about whether it was or not.
        • by Nightspirit (846159) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @08:43PM (#24206285)

          I dropped my fujitsu laptop multiple times this year and it styiklkl worklsd fklaweklersdsdklerty

      • by ozamosi (615254) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:56PM (#24205037) Homepage

        I was babysitting my mother's new puppy a few months back.

        I was happily IRC:ing away from the couch, when I heard the puppy standing by the door.

        For those of you that don't know, the thing about puppies is that they do prefer to pee outside, but their bladder system isn't really that good, so when they decide they want to go out, you only have a few seconds to avoid an accident.

        So, I quickly put my laptop on the table, throw my headset away, and start to quickly move towards the door. Unfortunately, I didn't really put the computer down very good - half of it was hanging outside the table. As I tried to move past it, my knee touched it, and that was enough to throw the computer of the table, letting it fall for 4-5 decimeters before it hit the floor. It gave up a faint "peeep!" before it died.

        My hard drive only kindof worked after that - booting was fine, but there were lots of broken clusters that sent the computer into a (seemingly) infinite loop, forcing the computer to use all CPU resources waiting for the hard drive, in effect freezing it. Slowly but surely, more and more clusters broke down, more and more files got damaged, until I finally bought a new drive. Trust me - at that point, I really, really wanted to buy a SSD.

        Oh well, at least the puppy got out in time...

        • by Millenniumman (924859) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @08:15PM (#24206017)

          HDDs are really not the main thing to worry about when a laptop is dropped or damaged. Screens are much more expensive than HDs, and much harder to replace. Now, data on HDDs is another story, potentially very valuable or important and impossible to replace, but it can be backed up.

          Also, for the same price as a single SSD you could buy literally dozens of HDDs with more than double the storage as the SSD, so in terms of price, even if you pretend SSDs are super reliable and don't even need backup they are still more expensive than dealing with the unreliability of HDs. Obviously, it is much more convient when your hardware doesn't fail, even if it can be replaced fairly easily and cheaply, with minimal data loss, but HDDs are only one compontent of several that can be damaged and make your computer unusable, and with their incredibly limited storage SSDs are much more inconvient. You won't lose your data even if the thing is destroyed, because it won't fit on there in the first place.

          Obviously, SSDs have some places where they excel, but at current prices and storage levels they are way over-hyped and over-used. The eee is an especially glaring example of this, putting a ridiculously high end component into a low end machine, forcing a incredibly low amount of storage.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rtb61 (674572)
            However it is a very important example of exactly why SSD drives a important for portable computers, drop factor and, that is especially important for UMPC's especially in school use, where drops will be a expected now add OLED displays and you have significant improvements in reliable and battery life. So all you have to do is wait out patent greed because the obviously simpler construction method of SSD drives versus spinning platters means they will eventually end up being cheaper.

            Not to be too picky o

          • Many people will value their data more than the monetary value of damaged equipment. That's one of the main reason that data rescue companies continue to thrive.

            Especially for people that have important data for work on their laptops can have a greater loss from a single damaged cluster than from the entire hardware.

            • Again, backup. Far, far cheaper than an SSD and much, much more reliable. In fact, if your data is at all valuable you still need backup for your SSD. It only provides extra protection against drops (and maybe magnets, I am not sure how they affect SSDs if at all). It does nothing for other forms of physical damage or simple rm -rf destruction or corruption of data.

              If the data is so valuable that it is worth thousands to slightly lessen the chances of loss of whatever amount of data is collected between bac

              • It's not worth thousands, but hundreds and that's enough for me. And while it's probably not the best solution to carry valuable data on a laptop, I've yet to see someone come up with a different solution.

                A solution that allows an instant start when arriving at the client site, that has little to none drawbacks compared to a stationary machine and with everything under my control including admin rights and network access.

                Carrying around an industrial workstation is not feasible, I don't like using a client'

        • My hard drive only kindof worked after that - booting was fine, but there were lots of broken clusters that sent the computer into a (seemingly) infinite loop, forcing the computer to use all CPU resources waiting for the hard drive, in effect freezing it. Slowly but surely, more and more clusters broke down, more and more files got damaged, until I finally bought a new drive.

          FYI your drive suffered a "head crash" in which the read/write head literally smacked the platter causing a minor abrasion to the med

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by GDI Lord (988866)

          Oh well, at least the puppy got out in time...

          What a relief!

        • by mgblst (80109)

          Why didn't you stand up and put it on the couch? A much safer option, as long as you aren't stupid enough to just sit on it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I wrote another comment recently [slashdot.org] about building my own flash drive with a couple of 16gb CF chips and an adapter from Addonics. I left out *why* I did this. I'm very rough with my tablet PC, and a spill earlier this year killed the mechanical drive. That was the 3rd drive to die for various reasons relating to rough use over the previous four years in this particular tablet. Six months of very rough use later, I've had absolutely no problems with the flash chips. The notebook is as fast with my homemade dri

    • by Anonymous Coward

      be $160 and a 32gb SSD cost 3x that....am I missing something? transfer speed?

      • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:54PM (#24204995) Homepage

        You're missing SLC vs. MLC and high-performance controllers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by owlstead (636356)

          And high quality tested parts. At least that was what I read in an article by someone that checked if the SSD drives were ready for deployment in his server farm. These guys like to do rigorous testing and good information, at least the professional ones.

          Don't forget that these controllers are brand spanking new, and they are not in their 1000th revision like the controllers used on the hard drives. I'm really looking forward to the Intel designed drives. I presume that they will use their own controllers -

      • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @08:13PM (#24205997) Homepage

        The thumb drive will die young if you use it as a hard drive, they're typically only designed for 10-15k write cycles (per cell). They also use MLC cells, which store two bits each - that doubles the capacity, but quadruples the error rate. Errors are usually corrected via parity/ECC, but obviously if you have more errors, you're more likely to exceed the ECC threshold.

        There's also the issue with performance. A thumb drive might get 10-15mb/sec on a good day, 20 if you pay way too much money for a "dual channel" unit. Hard drives are expected to deliver 40mb/sec minimum these days, else your apps will take forever to load.

        If you really want to be a wacko, you could try RAID-0 across a bunch of thumb drives. You'll get the performance back, but good god you're playing with fire.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Doppler00 (534739)

          And how many users will write over 320 terrabytes to their hard drive during it's lifetime? That's 190 days of continuous writing at 20MByte/sec. I wish people would stop citing write cycle limits, I have yet to hear from anyone who's actually failed a drive this way.

          It's called... wear leveling algorithms.

          The future is actually probably going to be a hybrid of SLC and MLC. I read a paper recently on this. They got about the same performance as SLC only, using only a small amount of SLC.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by schnikies79 (788746)

      Of the two times I've seen a laptop dropped (to the point of something breaking), the screen broke, not the hard drive.

      SSD's do nothing for this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Glonoinha (587375)

        Take the hard drive out of the broken screen unit and put it in a new unit.
        Sixty seconds later you are back in business.

        The cost of the hardware is immaterial compared to the contents on the drive.

    • by pthisis (27352) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @07:00PM (#24205103) Homepage Journal

      For me the selling points is noise. Most of the time whatever machines I'm near are plugged in, but having a nearly silent media pc in the living room, having a silent instant-on music player in the bedroom, and having a whir-less office would increase my happiness for many hours out of the day.

      Power savings would be pretty nice, too, but much less often.

      • by billcopc (196330)

        Noise ?

        A decently built PC should be practically noiseless, if you choose the right parts. An SSD does eliminate one spindle, but the HDD should already be the quietest spindle in the system - the CPU/GPU/PSU fans are the troublemakers here.

        If your hard drive is noticeably chatty, either insulate it with grommets/rubber bands, or just stop buying Maxtor.

        • by pthisis (27352)

          GPUs almost never have fans unless you're using very recent accelerated 3d cards--way overkill even for most video playback machines. If you put together gaming machines a lot, you'll think all
          GPUs have fans, but if you put together more general machines fans in the GPU are still pretty uncommon.

          Likewise, most CPUs don't need fans unless you're going with very recent models.

          Fanless PSUs are less common, but always fairly easily available.

          I've been putting together quiet PCs for a decade now, and the HD is

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Spy der Mann (805235)

      On warm sea-level areas (such as a caribbean beach), high RPM harddrives tend to fail rather quickly. SSDs would operate just fine.

    • by v1 (525388)

      but if you drop them enough don't all the bits fall out?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by jomiolto (1092375)
        No, the packaging is designed to keep the bits in, even if you drop the drive. However, the force of the impact can clutter all the bits in one corner of the drive, giving them no space to move and change their state, so you should give the drive a good solid shake if you happen to drop it. That way the bits will be spread evenly inside the drive again, and they may happily continue their data storing existence, without the fear of bumping to their grumpy neighbour.
        • by v1 (525388)

          does that address the problem of bit clumping?

        • by fbjon (692006)
          Yes, but be careful that the bits don't slide too far on the platter. Incidentally, this is why some sites seem to disappear completely when they grow old. As the Great Internet Drive spins, older sites tend to creep toward the edges, until they eventually just fall off the edge of the world.
    • by Mex (191941)

      I just dropped a new 160 gb laptop and I lost all the data. I-m very interested in these new SSD drives.

  • How about a link? (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitac (24581) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:30PM (#24204573) Homepage

    I think someone forgot a critical link... try this for the Tech Report article:

    http://techreport.com/articles.x/15079 [techreport.com]

  • I can't see where the actual article is
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That's because the /. editor left it out when they moved this post from the Firehose to the front page. Quality, eh? Go figure. But here it is [techreport.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Nobody reads them anyway, so apparently the editors have decided not to bother including links anymore.

    • So? It's not like anyone will read it.
  • What about recovery? (Score:5, Informative)

    by allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:33PM (#24204637) Homepage Journal
    I've read that the algorithms used in SSD's are usually proprietary. The problem with SSD's is that they DIDN'T fix the wear leveling problem. It exists, just a lot slower now due to the algorithms referenced above. If my drive dies, I'll have to find a service that can recover my files, but they will have to be certified in samsung, seagate, white label, etc. I really feel uncomfortable with that idea.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:40PM (#24204735)

      I've read that the algorithms used in SSD's are usually proprietary. The problem with SSD's is that they DIDN'T fix the wear leveling problem. It exists, just a lot slower now due to the algorithms referenced above. If my drive dies, I'll have to find a service that can recover my files, but they will have to be certified in samsung, seagate, white label, etc. I really feel uncomfortable with that idea.

      You could just backup your files...

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Backup your files? Now that's just silly.
        • Backup your files? Now that's just silly.

          Back it up to what? Another ssd if they become standard? Tape drive? Pshh. Not a chance. Look long term. The only other option would be to pay someone to store my crap and frankly, I value my security/privacy far to much for that.

          • Then use Mozy and add an encryption key. Face it, the NSA has better things to look at then whatever is squirreled away on your hard drive. They'll use the supercomputing crackers on those things first, and your porn collection later.

            For more fun, encrypt it beforehand as well, use steganography, AND

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MagdJTK (1275470)
      I mean no disrespect, but I think this attitude is a bit damaging. A lot of people seem to think that a recovery service is a replacement for a backup regime rather than a last resort if an absolute disaster has occured.
    • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:54PM (#24205005)
      TFA says for a 60G disk, with 50G written daily, the drive will last for 33 years in respect to wear.
      • Does this also apply to Compactflash cards that are used as harddrives? I was thinking of doing that instead of buying these more expensive SSD devices.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by supertux (608589) *

          It is my understanding (I read it on the internet somewhere) that every flash device has some form of wear leveling built in, except for the actual raw flash chips. So if you solder flash chips onto some device, you'll need to format those flash chips with jffs2 or similar because jffs2 will perform its own wear leveling.

          As for compact flash as a hard drive, I have been using an 8GB Transcend 266x CF connected to an addonics CF->Sata adapter for use as the OS drive in my gentoo based mythtv system. Man

      • by owlstead (636356)

        Hmm, lets see.

        (60 / 50 * 10000) / 365 = 32.something years. 33 years if you work for marketing.

        Well, I don't know, but that's *really* efficient write leveling.

        What do these drives do if you always write to the oldest data still in use, e.g. when doing round robin logging over the full size of the drive? Or are there other use cases that would mean a shorter life-span?

        It's a manufacturers claim. I suspect the actual lifetime for casual notebook users will be pretty high. But if you continuously watch movies

        • by torkus (1133985)

          Wear leveling will dynamically move around clusters as needed.

          Look at it a different way: What emerging technology will stay standard enough for 5 years (much less 30) that it will still be in vaugely common use? C'mon. These brand new SSD's are great but in a few years they'll be the early adopter junk that no one wants. Will you really care about a 32GB SSD when your average SSD is 500GB?

          I sure don't pay any mind to the pile of 40GB hard drives i have laying around my house.

    • by Isao (153092)
      If your drive dies, you go to your backup, not a recovery service. If you have to go to a service, either your data backup plan failed, or you have a specific forensic need.
  • by carp3_noct3m (1185697) <slashdotNO@SPAMwarriors-shade.net> on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:46PM (#24204857)
    Boils down to a couple of things: Reliability = Good, Speed = Good, Space = Fair , Cost = Why can't I pirate this! Damn, but that would be "stealing". When the cost goes down and the size comes up a bit, Ill be ready to buy one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tomhudson (43916)

      Reliability = Good, Speed = Good, Space = Awful , Cost = Not this decade, Charlie Brown.

      And for all those saying "no moving parts - what if I drop my laptop?" - If you drop your lappy hard enough to break a modern drive, you'll probably be shopping for a replacement. Unlike those "tests", laptops don't land flat and square.

      (queue all the "but I dropped my laptop and the only thing that broke was the hard drive" posts)

      • by carp3_noct3m (1185697) <slashdotNO@SPAMwarriors-shade.net> on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @07:13PM (#24205293)
        Actually, I have a funny story. For Marines in Iraq movies get passed around on HD's alot. Me and some buddies had a 320g external hd at the time. Well, one day theyre watching Lost and we get attacked, I jump down and kick the cord. We all watched in Tivo slomo while the poor thing went all the 3 feet from desk to floor. It even had the entire album of some of my fancy themselves rappers friends. They blamed me, I blamed them for stringing a 10 foot usb to the laptop (which was hooked to a projector, its funny what you can get in the middle of nowhere when you know the supply officer)and the terrorist blamed the hard-drive. We lost over 200 movies, and SSD just might have stopped the whole thing, and now im ranting, but theres one of my war stories, buy me beer/scotch if you want more/better ones.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by vivin (671928)

          Us Army guys had one of those in Iraq too - we called it the "Whore"-Drive. I destroyed my laptop drive there, but it was mainly intentional. I was trying to connect it to the crappy wireless we had, and I got so frustrated that I punch my laptop. Repeatedly. The HD didn't like that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I got so frustrated that I punch my laptop

            Never punch inanimate objects. You cannot win. Something will probably break, and both options are bad. I found this out when I got cross and punched a monitor. It was a while ago, so it was a CRT.

            I never punched a computer again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MikeUW (999162)

        I dropped my laptop once - actually, it kind of cartwheeled up into the air as I pulled it out of my backpack, then crashed on the ground.

        No my hard drive didn't break - but it landed square on the end with the wireless card sticking out of it, and crushed the card. Fortunately the rest of it was fine.

        In fact, I've never had a notebook drive die in any way (though maybe by saying so I've jinxed myself). Lots of desktop drives have died on me though...and I never dropped any of those.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Pebby (1321397)
        No, while your laptop is off, your HDD is as likely to break as anything, but while it is ON and accessing data, that sucker is spinning. A big jostle can seriously damage it. Panasonic Toughbooks even had shock-mounted HDDs in them to stop this. Solid state drives completely eliminate the worry about spinning - this is why we can manhandle our cellphones without worry while they're ON. It's not like with a spinning CD in a Discman - the optical lens is nowhere near as close to the CD as the parts in a HDD
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tomhudson (43916)

          Maybe you need a modern laptop hard drive [akihabaranews.com]

          * SecurePark - WD's SecurePark technology parks the recording heads off the disk surface during spin up, spin down and when the drive is off. This ensures the recording head never touches the disk surface resulting in improved long term reliability due to less head wear, and improved shock tolerance.

          * ShockGuard - WD's ShockGuard technology protects the drive mechanics and platter surfaces from shocks during shipping and handling and in daily operation.

          * Free-

    • The storage space is not "fair" at all, and in many ways the reliability isn't either.

  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @07:58PM (#24205847) Homepage Journal

    I would love an SSD for r/w performance that blows a mechanical drive out of the water.

    I would love an SSD that doesn't use much power.
    I would love an SSD that's shockproof.
    I would love an SSD that runs cool.
    I would love an SSD that's silent.
    I would love an SSD that roughly the same price performance of a mechanical drive.

    The problem is, it can't be all of those things. It can't even be most of those things. So pick the ones you need.

    • I would love an SSD for r/w performance that blows a mechanical drive out of the water.

      It looks like the OCZ drive does this.

      I would love an SSD that doesn't use much power.

      It looks like the OCZ drive does this, too.

      I would love an SSD that's shockproof.

      Isn't this a natural result of the "solid state" part of "solid state disk"?

      I would love an SSD that runs cool.

      Direct result of "doesn't use much power".

      I would love an SSD that's silent.

      Isn't this a natural result of the "solid state" thing, again?

      I would love an SSD that roughly the same price performance of a mechanical drive.

      Newegg lists an out-of-stock OCZ drive (maybe the same one?) for $450 for 32GB. The cheapest laptop drive they have is $50 (60 GB). So the OCZ drive costs around 9x as much as a cheap HDD for performance 2-4 times better than the HDDs in the article,

  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @09:28PM (#24206805)

    SSDs are the best thing to happen to PCs since the invention of the mouse.

    I have had a MemoRight GT for 3 months now, and my laptop feels amazing. I am disappointed Tom didn't include one in his review.

    Because the seek speed is 40x + than an HDD, data access is blazing fast on even the cheaper SSDs. The hangup is in the slow read/write speeds and problems with random access. MemoRight GT is the first SSD I saw that was faster than HDDs in all of these areas, and hence it not only outperforms I/O wise, you get the full benefit of fast access... And this will make your PC feel 4x faster.

    Everything becomes faster. Web pages load faster. Email arrives faster. Windows moves faster. No more HDD cache writing lag or "what is my HDD doing" moments.

    I don't care that much for battery life, though I am sure some do. As Tom concludes, that is pretty much a spec you just need to look out for, so if you want it, look for a drive that has it.

    What I do love though is the silence. Anyone who has gone through an HDD failure is sensitive to HDD sounds probably more than they know, or would like.

    SSDs make no sound, and there are no strange vibrations.

    I spent close to 2K on the drive, but it was worth every penny. If I buy a new SSD when the 3rd generation drives arrive, my Memoright will still always have a place in one of my notebooks.

    • by dargaud (518470)

      Because the seek speed is 40x + than an HDD, data access is blazing fast on even the cheaper SSDs. The hangup is in the slow read/write speeds and problems with random access.

      Does the operating system knows about this ? I mean, can the OS adjust its internal parameters to optimize the global speed. I'd guess with a slow write you'd want to avoid swapping or saving temp files as much as possible. If the read is fast, you don't need to pre-fetch files/programs in memory. Is there some kind of load balancing between memory speed/size, HDD speed/size, SSD, etc...?

      • The OS can't tell the difference, but memory is still fastest, so I wouldn't say much needs to change as far as caching and swapping behavior. What is gone though are the drive caches... the caches on board the hard drives that pre-load data in an attempt to be faster. I am sure it improves performance overall, but sometimes the drives need to deal with whatever is queued in their caches before dealing with what you've told them to do, and hence a delay. Of course, the OS doesn't know about these either, so

    • by hey! (33014)

      SSDs are the best thing to happen to PCs since the invention of the mouse.

      Since the mouse was invented in 1970, this means that the mouse was the best thing to happen to PCs ever. Since the compact, self contained disk units became available with ST506 in 1980, several years after the first personal computers, I'd have to vote for hard disks as the best thing ever.

      And since you had to assemble the very first PC yourself (the Altair 8800 -- gad how I wanted one of these, even though I had access to much, mu

  • I have an old notebook with one USB port, and an unpowered USB Hub with an external 300GB HD (+ power brick) + optical mouse.

    When I add a 512MB Kingston mem stick, I can copy from the big HD fine.

    When I put my newer 1GB MiniTraveller (Kingston) and try to write the HD goes offline - too much power draw from the Hub.

    Had the same problem with an Exigo 4GB.

    Also have a 6GB WD Pocketdrive (real hard disk, tiny). Never have any problem doing copies from the big disk to that.

    So, my guess is that SSD's are fin

  • I seem to recall the big selling point on the Macbook Air was instant on.... as in it didn't need to spin up to access the drive. Is this still a big feature for SSDs?

    I still like the idea of not waiting for my drive to spin up when starting, waking from sleep, etc. Especially as I tend to max out my drives no matter how big they are.... so swapping happens and everything is just a little slower in general.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

Working...