Quantcast Benefits of SSD vs HDD - solid state drives vs hard drives [Myth] - digitalFAQ Forum
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  #1  
03-17-2011, 12:53 AM
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In a related post about "Which external hard drives for a Mac?", the topic shifted to the merits of solid states drives, and how they compare to hard drives.
Or SSD vs HDD.

While running a Google check on the topic, I came across a review that had some very misleading comments. Specifically, this comment:
Quote:
if you're downloading video and using multiple applications at the same time, an SSD will give you a very noticeable performance boost
To copy/paste my text from the other thread:

When you're using "multiple applications", some of them tend to be idle in RAM. For example, I have Outlook open, and it's doing nothing, minimized. There's several system tray programs running in RAM, but I/O performance is zero or near-zero. If you were running several programs at once, and both of them needed heavy-handed I/O, then by all likelihood both tasks would be fighting over RAM space and CPU time. So again, the bottleneck ends up NOT being the drive!

Unless you're Sally the soccer mom, your computer generally has more than one hard drive -- especially those cheap USB2 externals. So when you're downloading files to drive D, drive C is not affected by I/O. And if drive D is an external USB drive, you're pulling at the CPU because USB drives all run through CPU cycles. Firewire and eSATA, of course, do not access via CPU.

Quotes like that are misleading at best, lies at worst.

But that's not all!

When you look at the flimsy "review" comparing the two technologies, pay close attention to the fact that the person didn't actually use the computers -- he crammed the hardware through benchmark tests, which are well-known in the IT community to be misleading and commonly do not represent real-world usage.

Benchmarking software is largely written by, and for the benefit of, manufacturers of hardware. Bias? Of course -- they're looking to hawk their new wares. And if you don't know any better, those benchmarks always look impressive, and almost always show something new to be so much better than what you already have. Please don't buy into that fallacy. It's hogwash.

Final note: As per our guidelines here at The Digital FAQ, we don't link to myths/crap. But for the curious, this was the SSD vs HDD review:
Review: Hard disk vs. solid-state drive -- is an SSD worth the money? (June 2009)
Code:
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9134468/Review_Hard_disk_vs._solid_state_drive_is_an_SSD_worth_the_money
I felt the need to address SSD.

While it's definitely a good tech, and will long-term replace magnetic spinning drives, it's for more "green" reasons -- lower power, less heat, quieter, lighter weight, etc. If they can overcome the limited-writes issues, it will be an improvement the lifespans of storage, too, as hard drives mostly die from mechanical failures (and SSD has no mechanical moving parts). And finally, prices must fall to encourage adoption.

Don't get caught up in the idea that it's faster or will make your computer run better. Those are misdirects.

Note: Some actual benefits of SSD drives are listed in that other thread: Which external drive for mac ?

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Someday, 12:01 PM
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  #2  
03-19-2011, 01:01 AM
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The main concern between SSD and HDD really is the price. If you do not have an idea, a 500gb on hdd will be equivalent to 60gb on solid state. Though 60gb will be ample for your OS, would you go for having 2 storage devices on your computer if such is permitted? They say that operating systems would be faster on solid state compared to any upgrades on the CPU. Though this would be an exaggeration, you will really notice the difference.
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  #3  
03-20-2011, 02:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcampbell View Post
They say that operating systems would be faster on solid state compared to any upgrades on the CPU. Though this would be an exaggeration, you will really notice the difference.
I don't have any disagreement with this basic statement.

However, as was pointed out in the first post, at what point does this matter? Sure, the system will boot faster and open up software quicker ... but at what point is that an important issue? Most work is done after the computer is started, and the programs are open. For playing/encoding a video, editing music or editing photos, the overhead is in the CPU, GPU and RAM -- not the storage space.

I've always been amused by the notion that a computer is "better" because Windows starts in 25 seconds instead of 45 seconds. Or that files will copy 75 second faster. Or something to that effect. You see this recurring theme with new hard drives, and even new versions of the OS.

Is the cost/size sacrifice really worth 20 or 75 seconds? (Or whatever the figure is.)

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  #4  
05-14-2011, 09:00 PM
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Computer boot up time is even more irrelevant when you've already got features like standby which can resume the computer from an extremely low power state to an operational state in less than 5 seconds. S3 Standby uses very nearly the same amount of power as the computer in S5 mode (mechanical off, but plugged in). If you want your computer to come on quicker, then just put it into standby and resume from standby when you want to use it.
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  #5  
05-16-2011, 11:27 AM
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Very good point!

I don't actually have "Standby" on my Windows 7 system. It's been renamed "Sleep" from what I can see. I use that regularly during the work week, only fully turning off computers when the week is over, or projects are not scheduled for those machines. Some Windows XP systems also have Hibernate, though I'm not sure if it's any faster than a cold boot; it's not something I use often.

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06-06-2011, 12:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boris_yo
Quote:
When you're using "multiple applications", some of them tend to be idle in RAM. For example, I have Outlook open, and it's doing nothing, minimized. There's several system tray programs running in RAM, but I/O performance is zero or near-zero. If you were running several programs at once, and both of them needed heavy-handed I/O, then by all likelihood both tasks would be fighting over RAM space and CPU time. So again, the bottleneck ends up NOT being the drive!
Unless you're Sally the soccer mom, your computer generally has more than one hard drive -- especially those cheap USB2 externals. So when you're downloading files to drive D, drive C is not affected by I/O. And if drive D is an external USB drive, you're pulling at the CPU because USB drives all run through CPU cycles. Firewire and eSATA, of course, do not access via CPU.
Are you saying the above is false?
No, not false. That is accurate.


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  #7  
04-03-2014, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by admin View Post
I don't have any disagreement with this basic statement.

However, as was pointed out in the first post, at what point does this matter? Sure, the system will boot faster and open up software quicker ... but at what point is that an important issue? Most work is done after the computer is started, and the programs are open. For playing/encoding a video, editing music or editing photos, the overhead is in the CPU, GPU and RAM -- not the storage space.

I've always been amused by the notion that a computer is "better" because Windows starts in 25 seconds instead of 45 seconds. Or that files will copy 75 second faster. Or something to that effect. You see this recurring theme with new hard drives, and even new versions of the OS.

Is the cost/size sacrifice really worth 20 or 75 seconds? (Or whatever the figure is.)
I registered on this forum solely due to this thread. Yes I realize its now three years old, but it actually comes up with you search SSD vs HDD on the first page in Google. Why? I have no idea, considering the huge wealth of information on the internet on SSD's. And yes, I understand the cost 3 years ago was greater than today (which is still substantially higher than a HD).

I was considering going into detail, but it is explained in exhausting detail elsewhere on the internet. Instead I just wanted to make sure that anyone else who might come across this thread considering buying an SSD to understand that:

1) It is worth it.

It is probably the single most noticeable difference compared to any other item in the computer. Exceptions include serious bottlenecks, such as someone trying to run Windows 7 on 1gb of ram or something, or upgrading from a Pentium III, but for the majority of computers today it is a very worthwhile upgrade. An 8 second boot time doesn't hurt (it can literally take longer to post for some computers than to load the OS), but to be very general it affects everything you do. If you do real work it is a no brainer.

If you have the money to spare for your computer, it is worth spending it on an SSD. It is superior to a hard drive in every imaginable way except, currently, cost per gb. Whenever you get your first one and you use it for a while then open something on your HD, you literally pause and wonder if something was wrong.

Anyways, again, only posting this because it actually comes up in a Google search.
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  #8  
08-19-2014, 04:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wowman View Post
I registered on this forum solely due to this thread. Yes I realize its now three years old, but it actually comes up with you search SSD vs HDD on the first page in Google. Why? I have no idea considering the huge wealth of information on the internet on SSD's.
Well, others have probably linked to us on their sites, on forums, and on blogs. Why? Well, at The Digital FAQ, we're known for accurate information. We're not swayed by buzzwords and propaganda like others are. And when it comes to SSD, a lot of what you here is hogwash parroted by lemmings.

"SSD is always faster (or better)" is the usual myth. It's not.

SSD is just a type of drive, and it has its own issues. Speed is not one of them (at first, at least), but it has other drawbacks -- longevity, data fragmentation, costs. SSD is not the magic cure-all we had all hoped for. Everybody wants faster, cheaper and more reliable. Sadly, SSD was just faster, but that was it.

Quote:
And yes, I understand the cost 3 years ago was greater than today (which is still substantially higher than a HD).
Costs are probably always going to be higher. Solid-state media is not cheap to produce, and it has a higher fail rate than spinning disks. The raw materials are not as cheap as a spinning disk's raw materials, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon (as in, this decade).

Quote:
I was considering going into detail, but it is explained in exhausting detail elsewhere on the internet.
Yeah, but that's the problem -- lots of those details are wrong, often repeated (parroted) by lemmings (followers). These folks only say things because they "heard it" elsewhere from some other magic "they". But when you apply science, the argument falls apart.

For example, SSD is just a disk. Do you only use a disk? No, probably not. You use it in a computer or a server. All kinds of variables then come into play. The end result of a scenario might not only show that a SSD gives no gains, but it's actually WORSE because of various factors. So again, is the disk itself faster? No doubt. But put it in a computer/server, under different kinds of uses, and the hypothesis quickly falls apart. Again, we follow the scientific method here.

Quote:
1) It is worth it.
It is probably the single most noticeable difference compared to any other item in the computer. Exceptions include serious bottlenecks
It's only going to make a difference when I/O is the bottleneck. It doesn't just magically make the computer/server run faster. The idea that SSD makes anything faster "just because" is pure myth.

Quote:
An 8 second boot time
This is such a silly benchmark. How many people sit around and boot and reboot their computers with a stopwatch? None. Our main local server takes probably 5 minutes to boot. It connects to other workstations, remote systems, and specialty hardware. An SSD would make zero difference here, as I/O is not the bottleneck. In general, SSD would make zero difference, as it's primarily used for CPU.

Quote:
general it affects everything you do. If you do real work it is a no brainer.
I rarely come across "real work" that needs high I/O. How many people move files back and forth on their hard drives all day? How many people launch so many programs at once that it hits the swap file hard? Not many. In fact, almost none.

We do "real work" here all the time, with enormous video and photo files. CPU and RAM are the big barriers. And we primarily work with 2tb eSATA client drives. An SSD would do nothing here in our systems, and we're much heavier computer users that normal folks.

Most dev work is done on-server remotely, and it's human time that's the bottleneck there -- not computer components.

The ONLY time that SSD seems to make a huge difference is when you're either
(A) using it for a database server like MS SQL or MySQL, or
(B) using a CMS like Magento, as a typical install has around 10,000 files, with many loading concurrently

Quote:
If you have the money to spare for your computer, it is worth spending it on an SSD.
I often find it's video gamers that enjoy SSD the most -- not people that use it for work. Games load big files from the drive, and the connect to others online. The full games is NOT online only, but a mix of remote and local content.

Quote:
It is superior to a hard drive in every imaginable way except, currently, cost per gb.
And longevity.
And data fragmentation.
And yes, costs for sure.

Quote:
Whenever you get your first one and you use it for a while then open something on your HD, you literally pause and wonder if something was wrong.
I wonder what's wrong with your HDD if a file takes that long to load. The worst files we run a cross are 2gb PSD files (40x30 layered posters), and that's a pure RAM issues. Even with 16gb in the photo systems, loading is slow, and it has nothing to do with the I/O. It's all CPU time as it loads into RAM.

We have this conversation almost monthly at sites like WHT, and it always plays out the same:
1. Person asks if SSD better.
2. A few fellow newbies/novices (or lemmings) insist it is.
3. Several seasoned/experienced admins have to explain that there's LOTS of caveats that may make it better, worse, or the same.

Like a broken record.

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