Choosing a Solid State Hard Drive

What is a solid state drive?

Solid state drives are super-fast computer storage drives that use flash-based technology that is similar, though faster and more reliable than USB flash drives. Traditional hard drives store data on a metal platter with a magnetic coating. The data is stored and accessed with a read/write head as the disks spin. SSD drives, on the other hand, have no moving parts, and store data on interconnected flash memory chips.

Solid State Drive vs. Traditional Hard Drive

The primary reason you're probably considering an SSD hard drive is speed. Installing one in your PC or Mac can lower the boot and shutdown times dramatically. Plus, your apps will launch and run faster, and you'll see faster file transfers. Solid state drives, because they have no moving parts, tend to be cooler and quieter than hard drives. They are durable, shock-resistant, vibration-resistant and reliable.

The trade-off to all of these benefits is both cost and size constraints. Traditional hard drives are significantly less expensive than solid state drives. But keep in mind that installing an SSD drive in a slow older computer may ultimately be less expensive than buying a new computer. If you have a great deal of data to store, you may end up paying a high cost for an SSD. They are commonly available in sizes from 500GB to 1TB, while high-end systems may contain SSD as large as 4TB at a much higher cost.

Internal vs. External

While it's easy to find traditional external portable hard drives in large capacities are low prices, most SSD drives are internal. External SSDs are available at a higher cost and may be worth your attention if you actively use your external drive while you are computing. For instance, if you are using photo editing software or music editing software, you may want to use an external SSD as a scratch disk, so that you can access your most-used files quickly and easily. Or if you have a large photo library and want to search (and find) your files easily, invest in an external solid state drive.

How to Choose a Solid State Drive

Depending on your need for speed and drive space, as well as your budget, you'll want to review the wide variety of SSD choices on the market. Best Buy makes it easier by giving you our top picks for storage devices.