Hard Drive Review Notes...

Linda, one of my reviews scouts, has urged me to review large and very quick storage devices (aka hard drives). What was a massive hard drive last year is now becoming routine. Take a look at all four reviews. Two new solid state drives (SSD) offer uberspeed, sophisticated and extremely stable and durable under rugged conditions. In contrast, HDDs have moving parts, which can translate into increased probability of mechanical failures and vulnerability to excessive shock, vibration and heat, but are amazingly inexpensive – a lot of storage for a few bucks.

SSDs offer all the features of any advanced solid state memory device (but don’t let your three year old near it …it isn’t child proof) and  minimum power consumption. Most are at least green oriented. PCs are slowly, but surely, going green. Only you and I can make this transition happen. See how nicely I now step off my soapbox?

I asked Linda to check out prices and there is about a 8:1 cost ratio in March. So why pay eight times as much? There are applications where it can be used and justified. For instance, for years laptops had overheating problems from hard drives and video cards. This is not a problem with SSDs. On the other hand, for most applications the mechanical hard drives will suffice. They are now very inexpensive, easy to install or change out and reliable. As with any electronics, heat is its enemy.

There are a couple of caveats about SSDs. First, do not defragment. Windows 7 is SSD friendly and recognizes and takes appropriate care of them. Defragmenting simply wears them out prematurely. Second, it is small and rugged, but it can be damaged. If your system requires extreme data transfer and low access times, try them.

On one laptop, we found the SSD time from power ON to desktop was less than 1/5th the regular time. In active use, it needs about 15 watts. A common way to secure a hard drive you are disposing of is to Format it. No, not a good idea for SSDs. There are special programs for SSD maintenance. Check your SSD web page for firmware updates.

Although the Magazine typically makes “field” reviews, there are some products that you obtain better information if they are formally tested. We’ve included an external USB 3.0 enclosure until more computers are “3” capable. You’ll like the eight times through put vs. USB2.

To insure cross platform conformance and consistent results, we use SiSoftware’s test suite: Sandra Engineer Standard (commercial) 2011.SP1a (vs17.43). Thanks, SiSoftware.

Charles W. Evans, Reviews Editor