A PC is able to run without an SSD as long as it at least has an HDD to use for non-volatile memory. There are numerous advantages to having at least one SSD installed in your PC, which some people consider essential rather than optional.
In the rest of the article, we’re going to learn what exactly an SSD is, understand what the benefits of SSDs are over HDDs, and look at when and how to best use an SSD in your PC.
What is an SSD?
A solid state drive (SSD) is a device that is used for secondary storage. This means that it keeps its memory even after the power is turned off. SSDs use flash memory, which differentiates them from traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), which have many moving mechanical parts. SSDs and HDDs are fundamentally used for the same purposes but perform very differently.
What are the Benefits of an SSD over an HDD?
SSDs are more expensive than HDDs, but you get a host of benefits for this across many categories. Let’s look at some of the most significant benefits of solid state drives over traditional hard disk drives.
Because the data on an SSD doesn’t need to be mechanically searched for, they work many times faster than traditional HDDs. SSDs using the M.2 form factor interface with your motherboard directly, further bypassing any limitations imposed by the SATA cables that any drives installed in your chassis bays will use.
Because SSDs have no moving parts, they don’t make any noise. If you’re used to the electric motors in your HDDs spinning at high speeds or the entire metal chassis rattling with their movements, you’re going to enjoy the absolute silence you get from SSDs.
Another advantage of having no moving parts is that SSDs are more resistant to damage from impacts. Dropping your computer or even knocking it over while your HDD is running can potentially damage the disks, heads, or any of their many moving parts, rendering the whole thing unusable. SSDs, by contrast, cannot experience these more subtle types of damage.
If you take cost and capacity out of the picture, SSDs are more efficient than HDDs in every other way. Because of their lack of disks and other mechanical parts, they take up a lot less physical space. This makes them ideal for smaller chassis and even more so for laptops.
SSDs also use a lot less electricity because they don’t need to create any physical motion in order to function. Not only will this prolong your battery life if you’re not connected to mains power, but it will also reduce the heat generated by your system.
How Should You Use an SSD in Your PC?
If money were not an issue and you had a big enough chassis, you could simply buy a number of SSDs to fill all your non-volatile storage needs, but this is not practical. Because of the higher prices, it’s not economical to do so. And because of the lower storage capacities, even if you had a large enough chassis, you would run out of interfaces on your motherboard.
There are multiple ways to use solid state drives that are suited for specific situations. If you work on the go and are always traveling with your laptop, having an SSD will minimize the chance of damage to your storage from constant movement, prolong your battery life when you’re away from a power source, and allow you to boot up quickly for a quick spot of work.
If you’re looking at a desktop computer that won’t be moving around, you can benefit from combining SSDs and HDDs, with each type used where it’s most suitable. We’ve learned that SSDs access information significantly faster, so this drive can be where you keep your operating system installed for fast booting and other essential operations.
You can also have some more essential programs installed on this SSD for quick loading. For everything else, such as storage of media, video game files, downloads, et cetera, the HDDs will fulfill that duty with no problem.
You may not need an SSD for a PC, but you’ve now learned the benefits they bring over HDDs and can gauge how you want to integrate them into your next computer build.