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Slow SSD Transition and The Consumer Mindset – Learning to Run With Flash

Last week I posted the comment on a social site that stated, “If you are a friend of mine and still use a hard drive, I am embarrassed for you”. This drew criticism that I truly never expected, much from friends who responded through private thoughts back to me, some that I would never print. I was definitely taken aback that so many followed my social thoughts, but more importantly, I guess I was more concerned with the number of people close to me still using a hard drive.  Many of these same people spend several hours a day on a computer.

Hard Drive Disected2

This opened my eyes.  It made me realize that, as much as we have done our best to introduce and implement SSDs in the consumer space, SSDs are still in their infancy.  It’s a case of those remaining with the tried and true hard drive (not such an accurate thought) vastly out numbering the few who might chance a new ‘flash’ technology.  As much as we might believe we have advanced SSDs since their introduction in 2007, the consumer SSD is still not reaching that finish line quick enough. The vast majority are still buying PC systems with hard drives and, at least according to IHS iSuppli Stats, SSD sales will grow to 190 million with hard drive sales dropping to 397 million by 2017, still twice that of the SSD.  Compare this to our similar report and chart of just over a year ago:

IHS ssd forecast

In order to get a grip on how much time we spend on a computer, we decided to check out Facebook statistics, the world’s largest social site with a 43% share of the marketplace.  Would you believe that the world spends 20 billion minutes on Facebook each day?  That may not seem like much until you calculate and realize that this converts to 3802 years, or 380 decades of user time…..per day.  Facebook has over 1.25 billion users and, in an interesting posting, Natalia Rojas has mapped the face of each and every one of us, along with a ‘real time update’ of total users. What was once Mark Zuckerberg’s pet project has become a worldwide force that outranks the growth of traditional non-tech companies such as Coca-Cola, IBM and Exxon by a stretch. Did you know that Canada has the most active Facebook users?

FaceBook Total

What’s the hold up?  Why do we still voluntarily choose to work on computers that actually cost us day’s of our lives in just startup times alone each year?  As much as we might believe that cost alone is the prohibitive factor, competition has brought SSD prices down to a very reasonable point and the industry has gone out of their way to accommodate the consumer through education and marketing campaigns.  SSDs can be purchased with migration kits that make it easy to whip out that hard drive and install that SSD.  Lack of knowledge of the value of SSDs is still the bump in the road and if people knew that they could trade that minute plus each and every time they wait for their PC to start, for an instant on experience just like their smart phone, millions more would be sold.

Crucial M550 1TB SSD Disassembled

So let’s do our part…

Stay tuned as we embark on a SSD campaign in upcoming weeks to educate you the consumer on the elusive SSD.  We have dug up our most popular e-mail questions and will tackle each one by one in an effort to move the world away from the consumer hard drive and into the SSD.  What is an SSD? How does it work? What can an SSD do for me? Do I need an SSD? How long will an SSD last?  Will the SSD crash? Where can I purchase an SSD? How do I know what SSD is best for me?  How do I know I have found the best SSD value?  How do I install an SSD? What is the difference of an SSD compared to a hard drive?  What type of protection can an SSD offer me as a typical consumer? These are topics that we intend to tackle in the near future, each at a very easy level of understanding and each with open access to myself personally for any of your questions?

SSD over HDD

At the end of this ride we hope that you make the jump to SSDs and, more importantly, we hope we have helped you save days of your time each year through your transition to SSD, days that you can spend with family or friends as it should be.  Stay tuned!





  1. I look forward to your following articles. Thank you.

  2. Les, you must work with a tight group of techies and not the hoi polloi. I would love to have some good fast storage like an SSD. The fact is I can not afford such at this time in my life. I am reading your site often so I too am an techie. I have an AMD 840 as a cpu and 2TB in the form of a RAID 10 for my storage. When the cost of the SSD drops closer to the cost of about the same storage I will buy one after saving up. I do not turn off my system every night, so I don’t wait for the bootup. Fact is I would rather see some static RAM as part of the normal memory and not have to wait at all for a startup. Thanks for your work … Dennis (not Dennis S)

    • Ok…so why don’t you spend the 70-80 bucks, get a SSD with Hybridisk caching, or even an older still available with NVELO Dataplex, and cache your system. Bring up the speed of your solution to that of a SSD without losing that capacity, or current configuration.

      • Because I don’t have 70-80 bucks. If I had that money I would buy a better cpu first.

      • Your point is taken with respect to the price of food and it makes any value debate moot. Your argument that you will buy a SSD when the price comes to the same level as the SSD is an age old argument though that will ensure that you never experience the SSD firsthand. We would be silly to believe that a 2TB would match that of a equal capacity 2TB SSD ever. I can always wait until the better value/better product tomorrow because it is an endless cycle that continuously repeats itself. You can throw a 32GB cache on that system, increasing performance and start times by 4-5 times for under $50 if you search hard.

      • You could turn off your computer night and save some electricity. Maybe not alot. But maybe a few dollars worth.

      • Save up and buy one. You’ll thank me later 🙂

  3. You’re completely misguided. The problem here is not that people don’t know the value of SSDs, it’s that they do and that it’s not enough.

    At the end of the day, SSDs are lucky to get below 0.50/GB even with sales. Compare that to hard drives, which cost only pennies per GB. Money talks. What’s more, games are only getting bigger. We’re not in the days where AAA games only took up 2 GB of storage, now they’re commonly taking up 30 GB or more. Even worse, SSDs are forced to add more ECC measures as NAND process size shrinks, which will bring an end to SSD price drops. Speaking of which, MLC was supposed to be the savior, but it took months to drop prices on 1 SSD line (Crucial M500). SSD prices are stagnating again, and the excitement of dropping SSD prices is gone.

    At the end of the day, SSDs are either high enough capacity but too expensive, or not enough capacity and affordable. That’s not changing for a long time, and with the need for more ECC, SSDs are facing an uncertain future.

    • Completely disagree as you speak of a very small portion of the actual population. Most do not have any clue whatsoever of their own system capacity and the typical person could go years on a 128GB capacity. It is all about performance, reduction of start times, increase in productivity even as a consumer. One can now grab a 1TB SSD below $500 and can grab a 128GB for well below $100.

      Is $100 or less for a significant performance upgrade and loss of having to wait that minute or more several times a day while you’re computer starts unreasonable? Not at all. Lack of education IMO. This is easily validates over and over again when we see the reaction of those using the SSD for the first time.

      • Sorry Les … you are wrong. Things are to high in cost with not enough return.. Have you taken a look at the cost of food lately?

      • Your point is taken with respect to the price of food and it makes any value debate moot. Your argument that you will buy a SSD when the price comes to the same level as the SSD is an age old argument though that will ensure that you never experience the SSD firsthand. We would be silly to believe that a 2TB would match that of a equal capacity 2TB SSD ever. I can always wait until the better value/better product tomorrow because it is an endless cycle that continuously repeats itself. You can throw a 32GB cache on that system, increasing performance and start times by 4-5 times for under $50 if you search hard.

      • Obviously you never used a PC with ssd, hence idiotic comments like that.

        >Things are to high in cost with not enough return.. Have you taken a look at the cost of food lately

        Same could be said for pc as a whole. You dont need it to survive, so whats the point of having one, right ?

      • I completely agree.

    • I mostly agree Steel … and you can’t keep your games on a cd …

    • Well there is something we call dual drives. Get a smallish ssd (120GB/240GB) and a big harddrive and won’t cost you that much.

      > Even worse, SSDs are forced to add more ECC measures as NAND process size shrinks, which will bring an end to SSD price drops.
      No it won’t. Once dieshrinks are not possible, they can always stuff more bits into one cell (sandisk had 4 bit per cell card back in the day). So nand will keep getting cheaper, you can be sure of that.

  4. I tell people that if it doe not have an SSD, it is not a real computer. PERIOD!

  5. own three, running my OS on a m4 256, using hdds for storage, and yes the price of a SSD large enough for most users to put their OS and misc stuff on is obviously not low enough yet

  6. Hi Les
    Lets not forget that a lot of people use laptops and a lot of these only have one drive bay.
    Personally I chose a laptop that came with two 1TB hard drives fitted so it was an easy matter to remove one and fit an SSD for the operating system. Fast boot up is good , but not something that is too important as I don’t tend to turn the machine off too often in the day ,but where I do feel a benefit is in file transfers and things like very rapid antivirus scans.
    However , when I had filled the remaining 1TB hard drive with video and music I didn’t even consider replacing it with a SSD as there would be little advantage but considerable extra expense assuming one is available. Instaed I bought a 2TB Seagate Backup Plus Slim for £70 , took the drive (an M9T which is 9.5mm thick) out of the case and fitted this into my laptop.
    So there is still a case for conventional drives and although I enjoy the performance of my SSD I regard it as a luxury and not a necessity.

    • > Lets not forget that a lot of people use laptops and a lot of these only have one drive bay.

      But most of those computers have dvdbays, that can be used as harddrive storage. Or msata.

      >SSD I regard it as a luxury and not a necessity.
      Once you get one, you’ll think otherwise 🙂

      • Hi Benjamin,
        I thought that my post made it clear that I had fitted a SSD to my laptop.and so I do own one. In fact I own two, a Vector 128 and a Vector 256 and I do still regard them as a luxury.

      • Hi again Benjamin,
        I have just read your thoughts about people hoarding data and having no real need for lots os storage space if only they would manage their space properly.
        I think you are coming from your own particular place without properly appreciating what some people use their computers for.
        The reason I started to use a PC was to rationalise my music and music video collection , which I use every day that I am at home. All my CD’s are stored losslessly on a hard drive and this amounts to around a TB (I have been collecting and listening a long time) and I have a good collection of music videos as well which takes up about 400GB.
        I play my collection via MediaMonkey and I much prefer this to using a CD player as access and searching for tracks is so much easier as is building playlists etv. I do very occasionally stream music but would not consider it ideal because of the typical low bit rate on offer.
        So please think outside the box a little and try to appreciate that your way is not the only way.

      • Benjamin Hojnik

        But you’re not a typical user and most people haven’t even heared for lossless format as such.That kind of people don’t need terabytes of datastorage.

        Obviously there are some exceptions.

      • Hi Benjamin,
        I do take your point that a lot of people don’t need too much storage but I can’t see the issue with people wanting to have movies at hand just in case they may wish to watch them, although they possibly never will.
        I think the main resistance to SSD’s is knowledge. People are frightened to open their machine and install the new drive. I have to say that I was a little intimidated because although I have taught myself how to use a PC I had no practical experience of opening one up. The desire for better performance drove me forward and I bought my first SSD and fitted it. It wasn’t totally straightforward getting my OS on the drive but I knew enough to manage it. A lot of people wouldn’t have been able to get there.
        I will say that the SSD has been the biggest single factor in increased performance and much more significant than going from an Intel dual core 2GHz processor to an i7 Quad core 2.4 GHz that turbo charges to 3.4. I would take the SSD over the latest and greatest processor any day.
        Still for me I would class the SSD as a luxury whilst recognising that they are the future and will soon be placed in most PCs as standard.

      • Benjamin Hojnik

        I think every laptop out there should have ssd drive along the standard drive in a form of msata. Entery level ones should stick with small sizes (lets say ~32GB) for caching, while others could feature bigger sizes and act as a normal drive. Manufactures could even intergrate ssds directly to the motherboard to further reduce cost on lower end models.Heck, even using hybrid hdds could be a step up. if they would be used across the range.It really saddens me, to see a mid or highend laptop and all you get is a slow 5400rpm hdd

        Ultrabooks are on good path though, being mostly solidstate.

        Its all about letting consumer know, what gains can they get 🙂

      • Hi Benjamin,
        I totally agree that it is a shame to see some good machines without a SSD . From my point of view I would not buy a laptop that did not have two drive bays. It wouldn’t worry me if both held HDDs and in fact I would prefer to choose my own SSD to put in.
        I understand when you talk of cheaper machines having hybrids or small SSDs but I suspect that in the not too distant future SSDs will be cheap enough that good capacity will be possible for even budget models.

      • Benjamin Hojnik

        Yeah, i bet in a few years it will make more sense (price wise) to just solder 512GB of flash directly to the motherboard on entery level models than use hdd.

        last gen consoles are a prime example of such trend.

      • Hi again,
        I am old enough to remember the emergence of video recorders (VCR) for domestic use . At that time (1980’s) a cassette on which to record cost £8.00. You didn’t buy too many.
        It didn’t take too long before you could buy a pack of four for £5.00 and they came with a lifetime guarantee.

      • Benjamin Hojnik

        I’m sorry, i must have misread your post 🙂

        Although i still dont agree on the whole luxury part. Not with with these prices lately.

  7. Fact: 80% of the population out there will never need or use more than 250 GB of storage. However, they still buy that 750-1000 GB drive because “more is better” and/or “I might need it someday.” Joe Enduser knows the value of more GB, because it’s a simple more vs. less equation. Joe has no clue of the value of the letters “SSD.” And it takes too long to explain so you can’t fit it on the box or in the product description.

    It’s too bad, because frankly Joe Enduser stands to derive the most benefit. Us enthusiasts are more likely to need great massive gobs of storage in our systems, making SSDs less of a logical value purchase, unless we set up our own NAS. Joe needs enough space for his web browser and an office package, and maybe his MP3 collection.

    • Fact: 80% of endusers can see where SSDs are placed in product lineups, and draw conclusions about the cost/GB of SSDs compared to hard drives.
      Fact: Cost/GB talks.
      Fact: Your elitism towards those who don’t belong to the SSD master race is obvious.

      • Fact: You just repeated what I said.
        Fact: you did it in a rude way
        Fact: you’re a jerk.
        Fact: try leaving your mom’s basement one of these days.
        Fact: buy an SSD when you do.

  8. Hey Les I like reading your articles good job. My 2 cents on this subject is.

    1 ssds are too expensive. A regular hard drive has way more parts and seems to have way more material but ssds cost 5 times more for the same capacity. Some ssds have half a board and a couple of nand and dram and maybe some resisters and there light as a

    2 A hard drive is a hard drive . It’s not complicated there basically the same 5400,7200,10000 rpm. ssds on the other hand are all over the place. Read speeds 195-550 write speeds 195-550, 1000000 1500000 2000000 endurance. Many different controllers sandforce, marvell, intels ,samsungs, indilinx,lamd. They all produce different results, no unity no consistency = confusing. Firmware updates left and right. Etc etc…….

    3 Fab companies treat their nand like gold. Is it true that Toshiba slowed production of nand so the prices would go up that’s ridiculous. everyone yelling at Kingston for the bait and switch which they should cuz that was not Wright. but maybe Toshiba stopped supplying them with the 19nm nand what’s that about?

    4 And then this trim thing. Won’t work on raid you might have to leave your computer to idle. Every ssd is so different how to know which one to buy.

    5 They keep shrinking dyes the old ssds had better nand and
    then they stopped selling them. they give you worse nand with fancy cache

    6 The average non tech person can’t understand a ssd but they know what a hard drive is.

    That’s my 2 cents maybe I’m wrong.

    I am not against ssds I use them and love them, but I can understand why more people don’t use them.

    • Good post, just one correction: TRIM only supports RAID 0.

    • 7 One more thing why do companies even make ssds with Asynchronous
      nand old and slow tech. Why not only use the best available technology. Synchronous, or Toggle?

      • Money savings but it brings forward a valuable point which is that 99% of consumers could never tell the difference from one SSD or another because typical computer use never displays the strengths of the SSD. It does display that fast performance difference compared to a hard drive though.

        As valis as all you’re points made are they overlook the simple fact that the typical consumer knows as little about a SSD as they do about a hard drive. Performance and price…these are the recognizaeble features and a consumer can significantly increase the performance of their computer for under $100, but they don’t know that. Even looking at purchase of new systems, how many buy because they believe their system is antiquated whereas a SSD would breath new life into that system.

        It still breaks down to knowledge much moreso than value.

    • 8 Consumer ssds standard:

      500+ read / write MB/s

      40+ 4k read MB/s Very Important

      500+ effective speed MB/s

      Capacitors to flush dram to nand if power failure.

      MTBF 2,000,000 hours

      5 Year warrantee

      Solid firmware that you don’t have to upgrade the first day you receive the drive.

      Optional prices: 240-256 < $100, 480-512 < $200, 960-1gb < $300.

      Then people will know what a ssd is.

    • 10 And 90000+ read / write iops. Ok I’m done rambling. That’s it. Thank you.

    • >5 They keep shrinking dyes the old ssds had better nand and
      then they stopped selling them. they give you worse nand with fancy cache

      Thats actually not true at all. Although older flash did have better endurance, newer flash IS actually faster than old one, because they use faster interfaces and things like dual plane flash.
      And cache tricks are there only to attract naive buyer, who only value high sequential numbers (samsung and sandisk are doing this for example).

      Also endurance is a non issue even at 20nm..

      • Nice red herring, SSD fanboy. Where did he talks about speed? He was referring to write cycles. If endurance is a non-issue even at 20nm, why is LSI Sandforce working more ECC into its controllers?

      • FYI, endurance is still the same with 20nm, as was with 25nm flash.

        Also, for the last *beeb* time, endurance is NOT an issue !

        (unless you write TBs of data every day, well then, your not a typical user anyway).

        Just look at samsung and its EVO. The thing is using TLC flash, which translates to 3x lower endurance than comparable MLC flash and still poses no problem.

        Also one thing you’re forgetting. Flash usually lasts 3-5 times longer than its rated (MLC is hitting easly 10k p/s), so even less worries aboud endurance.

        > why is LSI Sandforce working more ECC into its controllers?
        Because it’s requered. Smaller cells requre better ECC. But ECC was with flash all its life anyway, it just needed to be more aggresive and sofisticated with each dieshrink

        Fear about wearing out your ssd is a complete FUD 🙂

  9. I literaly can’t believe how many hoarders are there… Although i understand people that actually need lots of storage professionally, but most people just hoard stuff, hence they are in need of big harddrives.
    I for one can normally live off 120GB ssd tru most of the time, that i have installed in my laptop. Although i have a larger hardware in my desktop and NAS, is still don’t see the need for _THAT_ much storage. People should just learn how to manage their data properly and they could easly live off a single 120/240GB ssd. But no, they need their whole collection of 1080p movies, that they will never watch 🙂

    And to all the people metioning all the price/gb and how harddrives are soo much cheaper… You’re missing out 🙂

    • You are a SSD elitist who puts down anyone who wants to load their movies faster than the speed of a Blu-ray drive. You slander them as “hoarders” for wanting more capacity and better cost/GB. Not everyone wants to watch their capacity like a supermodel has to watch her weight.

      • Well, calling me an elitist is hardly fair, since SSDs are so cheap these days (staring at 40€ here in EU).

        And while i agree with you on the whole price/GB thing (obviously everyone wants most for their money), but its hardly fair comparing SSDs to HDDs anyway.
        As far as bluray and whole movies is concerned… Yeah its 2014 and there are bunch of streaming services available, so there is even less need for storage 🙂
        Its all about managing your data 🙂

    • I have 2TB of data on my 15TB array. The same 10 programs get played over and over and over (yes small child).

      • Get yourself Netflix (or other “free alternatives, based on bittorrent) and you won’t need anymore crazy storage 🙂

  10. HDD storage is so cheap that I’ve had more than I can use for years. I’m not willing to pay for more capacity, however I will spend more for speed. I have one fileserver that I’ll continue to buy replacement HDDs for as the original ones fail… but all other new storage purchases are SSD.

  11. Embarrassed was probably just not the correct word to use. Feel sorry for them maybe? There are people paying way too much for new machines only to have it feel like its 5 years old out of the box.

  12. You’re pretty arrogant for a guy who doesn’t know the plural of day. Using Facebook to illustrate SSD performance benefits is pure moronity. No one who is truly concerned about wasting time is on Facebook in the first place. Gee, if every Facebook user had an SSD, they would each have an extra 16 seconds to post something only they believe the rest of us are interested in. The social implications of SSD implementation are staggering.

    My first computer was a Xerox 880 running CPM and I’ve been using hard drives since I bought an external 5 megabytes for my IBM PC for $5,000. Right now, the only SSDs I would even consider are Intel but since I clone to backup I prefer three old fashioned drives for the price of one SSD. Stick one in the computer and clone every evening to one of the other two. There’s no substitute for being able to recover your entire system in the time it takes to physically swap out a drive.

    Even if SSDs fail in a safe way leaving data intact, the inability to write renders the computer useless until the information is recovered. You can blather on about saving seconds booting, but who boots more than once a day? Even non-geeks let their computers sleep/hibernate and reboot only when installing new programs. Go ahead and save seconds booting with an SSD, I’ll save a whole day when I just go to my back up clone while you’re configuring a new SSD and downloading your back up from the cloud.

  13. 6 years ago i dropped my toshiba satellite c55. It took 4 minutes to boot up every time i turned it on. 2gigs of ram. Dual core Celeron. I used a flash drive to help with boot up. After lots of YouTube time. I replaced hdd with SanDisk ssd and 2 gb with 4 gb ram. I was gobsmacked. Today a nuc7i3&rocket nvme & 8gigs ram…HDD? I blow my nose at you

  14. Hdd never

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