Is a Solid State Hybrid Drive Right for You?

In the 1980s, personal computers rarely had hard drives. They stored data on removable floppy disks. The five inch floppies really were floppy. Those were soon replaced by smaller removable floppies encased in a hard plastic shell. Later, PCs came equipped with hard disks for both the operating system and local storage, largely making floppy disks irrelevant for storage. Early hard disks were huge in terms of size, but small in terms of capacity with as little as 10 or 20 megabytes of disk space.

We’re now accustomed to small hard disks with hundreds of gigabytes of capacity. A recent innovation is solid state storage which eliminates the spinning disk and delivers dramatically faster performance. These are often found in high end laptops and ultra-books. Though SSD storage has several benefits and allows for much smaller and lighter physical storage, it has its downside: SSD storage is dramatically more expensive per gigabyte than traditional hard disk drives. SSD storage becomes cost-prohibitive due to the massive capacity needs of today’s computer programs and users.

Enter the solid state hybrid drive. This storage innovation is the next best thing since the introduction of the virtualized desktop. It allows you to get the best of both worlds. With a solid state hybrid drive, you essentially have two drives in one. The SSD storage portion is used for storing files that you use frequently including operating system files, software files, and user-generated data files. Meanwhile, all those files you rarely use reside on the solid state hybrid drive’s hard disk which typically has a much larger storage capacity than the solid state drive.

This means that most of the time, your files are served up in a flash for quick performance and quiet operation due to the lack of spinning hardware. When you need to access lesser-used files stored on the hard disk, they’re served up just as they normally would be if you were using a standalone hard disk storage system.

As the user of a solid state hybrid drive, you won’t necessarily need to do anything different other than have the drive installed (or install it yourself). These drives typically monitor data usage and preferences and then automatically place your most frequently used files onto the solid state portion of the drive. Some hybrid storage systems take the other approach and initially place new files on the solid state portion and then move them to the hard disk if they remain unused for a predetermined amount of time. In either case, as the user, you’ll still access your files as you normally do. All this data migration between the two drives within the solid state hybrid drive takes place automatically in the background.

Computers have come a long way since the original PCs arrived in the 1980s. In fact, you might even be using a virtualized desktop rather than a traditional operating system. Storage has evolved, too. Floppy disks, or diskettes as they were sometimes called, are relics of the past. Though the hard disk drive has made huge strides in terms of capacity, its performance can’t compete with SSD technology. Get the best of both worlds by considering a solid state hybrid drive.