We’ve been using SSDs (Solid State Drives) instead of HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) for a couple of years now. Our most productive customers have also been using them for years. The difference in performance is quite dramatic. For years we promoted high end Western Digital Raptors and later VelociRaptor traditional platter drives in a Raid 0 array. No longer.
Today I am completely convinced that SSDs are definitely worth the extra money and the extra risk. That’s right, I said extra risk. While manufacturers of these devices would have you believe that since there are no moving parts, the failure rate is much lower than that of traditional platter HDDs. But that is simply not the case. Some brands are notably much more dependable than others. The good news is that when a SSD goes bad it usually goes bad within weeks of installation, and sometimes they are DOA (dead on arrival).
For those of you that I haven’t scared off yet, I can assure you that if you are looking at the bottom line and recognize that time is money, SSDs are very worthwhile, especially to the SolidWorks user. Boot times are dramatically quicker, as are file open times, save times, application load times, and the list goes on. Like any computer hardware, the quality and the brand is very important. It is important than you recognize that all SSDs are not created equal. OCZ drives have been historically bad, even though some magazine reviews give them rave reviews. I am convinced after all my reading and after owning a couple of them that they may be the worst – but there is no way I would have exchanged my experiences with them over the last couple years for platter drives.
I think that SSDs are very much like a front wheel drive car in Wisconsin. Once you’ve experienced driving in snow and ice with a front wheel drive car, you’d never consider going back to a rear wheel drive car. SSDs are the same and this is why, just as front wheel drives did, they are getting more and more popular as time goes on. Prices for the drives fall at a rate of about 50% per year. At the same time, performance is practically doubling every year. I’d encourage you to do some research and order your next computer with one, or, like I do, replace your existing drives with SSDs. There are drives with data transfer kits available that make the transition quite simple. For my money, at this point in time, the Crucial M4 drives are the SSD of choice. I’ll be ordering 4 of them for our training computers in the next few days and also a 512 GB SSD to replace my current 200 GB SSD in my laptop.
In all of our new computer recommendations to our customers, we recommend a high quality SSD drive for the boot drive in addition to a good platter drive for storage purposes. The platter drive can also be used for a backing up, but of course remember that an offsite backup is always important and always will be. (Of course “offsite” could mean “the cloud”.) Besides the benefit of significant speed increases in file related operations, you will have a cooler running computer as well as a completely quiet one from the drive standpoint. I definitely don’t miss the noise of a platter HDD spinning or the extra time spent waiting around for things to load and open and save…