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Laptops forum

General discussion

SSD vs traditional hard drives

by hjfok / November 8, 2010 10:10 AM PST

I use the laptop for Photoshop and HD movie editing (may try 3D HD camcorder in near future). So I bought the Sony Z series i7 laptop to run these applications. I chose this one mainly because it is light weight (3.1 lbs) and is packed with desktop power. I'm quite impressed with the SSD, quite a bit faster than my old laptops, especially the startup.

However I have some questions regarding the SSD. I understand all hard drives will fail one day. But a few articles pointed out that the info may last longer in the traditional rotational hard drive than a SSD, is that true? Based on some hypothetical calculations, I have seen SSD projected lifespan anywhere from 13 years to 25 years, which is not bad at all, certainly outlasting any laptop. Does anyone have an expert opinion or actual knowledge of SSD to comment whether these calculated projections sound reasonable?

I also want to see if someone can comment on my strategy. At this time I think the big advantage of SSD is faster performance. On the other hand the traditional hard drive is more cost effective for long term storage of data. So I plan on using my laptop with SSD for processing the files and softwares, then store multiple copies of finished files in different external drives, rather than spending $1000 more to upgrade to 512 GB SSD. For a little more than half that price, I bought 4 TB worth of external hard drives. Currently I have >150 GB data of photos and videos, and still growing. Does someone else recommend a better strategy?

And does someone know a better portable laptop than the Sony Z series i7, ideally less than 5 lbs? I like the lightweight because I can carry it on trips and finish the photos and videos before coming back home. The Mac book pro is good but cannot easily burn blu ray disks of my HD video and is a bit heavier. The Mac book air is light but slow, only has Core2 Duo. Alienware is too heavy and is more for gaming. Dell is cheaper but still a bit heavier than the Sony, and performance is not better.

Thanks in advance for your expert opinion.

Discussion is locked
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To clarify
by hjfok / November 8, 2010 10:21 AM PST

Sorry, I ask these questions because I just bought the Sony laptop and still have a couple of weeks to decide whether to return, exchange or upgrade it. I want to see if someone has a better suggestion. Thanks again.

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Well the problem with SSD drives they basically
by orlbuckeye / November 10, 2010 2:46 AM PST

are used for OS only and not much data storage. Hard drives are way cheaper and that why for data storage they haven't been replaced by the SSD.

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About age.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 10, 2010 2:52 AM PST

That's an interesting question. But to dive into it means we get to cover the old BACKUP COPY discussion as well. If folk don't backup then they have unwittingly made the choice that they are willing to lose that information.

For me the slow issue vanished as we passed 1GHz and went dual or more cores. Then again I don't care if it took 2 or 2.2 seconds for something to get done.

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Thanks for the replies
by hjfok / November 10, 2010 10:49 AM PST
In reply to: About age.

I think I will stick with the smaller SSD and use the external hard drives for long term and backup storages. My PC desktops and laptops during the past few years hardly last for more than 2-3 years. And my last HP laptop crashed in less than a year with only minimal use. So I lost faith in my PCs' longevity. Thankfully I have been backing up my files regularly and did not suffer loss of data when my PCs crashed. (Interestingly my MAC powerbook is still running well after almost 10 yrs, though it became obsolete after 5 years.)

So this time around I became hesitant to throw more than $3000 on a laptop that may not last, and picked the smaller SSD since I backed up all my files in external drives anyways. But having only a 256 GB drive sounds quite puny these days (especially considering the price of the laptop), and it's not quite enough for all my data (I have more than 300 GB data). If I want to have everything on my laptop, then I will need a 512 GB drive. But on the other hand, most of the data is not for frequent use. So that's why I post this to see whether someone will give a strong argument for the much more expensive SSD (which will push the cost up to almost $4000). Bob has given me a useful reminder of the backup that I usually do anyways, so trimming down to essential data on a smaller laptop SSD is not that much extra work after all.

As for the speed issue, I found my Core2 Duo system is somewhat slow when editing and processing my HD video, and the clips don't play smoothly sometimes. My Pinnacle software often crashed during editing longer videos, and takes a long time to reboot, which is very annoying. But on second thoughts now, this may also have to do with the inferior graphics of the system and the Pinnacle software rather than the Core2 Duo issue. But anyways, with the i7 processor and much better graphics, this should not be an issue.

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Well i'm waiting for
by orlbuckeye / November 12, 2010 1:18 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks for the replies

USB 3.0 to become standard on laptops before I buy. I have a laptop with 1 Esata port for an external.

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USB 3.0
by hjfok / November 12, 2010 11:25 AM PST
In reply to: Well i'm waiting for

True, I'm a bit surprised that a $3000+ laptop does not come with the latest USB 3.0 port! But I use a USB 3.0 PCMCIA ExpressCard/34 interface if I need to transfer large files quickly to/from an external hard drive with USB 3.0.

Obviously there are cheaper laptops with USB 3.0 ports and better specs. But this is the lightest laptop with this type of specs. It weighs just a bit more than Macbook Air, but it is a much more powerful package in a light compact body.

At home I use my desktop which has more power and a much larger screen. The laptop is for traveling, and I usually finish my work on the laptop SSD instead of using an external drive on the road. Then I back up the files to external drives and clean up the SSD after coming home. Most of the time, the backup is done while I slept, so it does not matter much whether it's USB 2.0 or 3.0.

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Two more points.
by derinos / November 12, 2010 12:13 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks for the replies

Good discussion, the two points awaiting comment are :
1. The likely durability of all those external rotating HD's and
2. Increasing availability of another alternative, Cloud backup services and their cost and privacy comparison with External HD's.
Also, have you considered using 8 GB DVD's for "vault archive" material?. They
too have some data longevity questions, as well as the threat of obsolescent devices for reading access.

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Bob's right do your backups
by Dango517 / November 13, 2010 1:52 PM PST
In reply to: About age.

Nearly every Friday is when I do them.

Good to see your still kicking Bob. Happy

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some other thoughts
by porsche10x / November 12, 2010 8:46 PM PST

SSDs have limited write-endurance, meaning you can only write to a particular block so many times until that block becomes permanently unusable. Practically speaking, this isn't an issue for most, but, at least hypothetically, could be come an issue depending on what you're doing.

Also note, if you're using larger external drives to archive your files, taking them off your SSD, then you really don't have any backups. Your external drives have the only copy. You might want to do multiple external copies, or maybe use DVDs and external drives, possibly adding raid to the external drives as well, maybe all of the above, depending on the personal value of your files.

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by hjfok / November 13, 2010 9:04 AM PST
In reply to: some other thoughts

Backup is not a problem. I have more than half a dozen of 1 TB, 1.5 and 2 TB external drives. I also have a couple of 1 TB ultraportable drives. And I have blu Ray burner and rewitable BD. I usually have at least 3 backup copies. But most of these are automated backups. The reason I posted this is because if I keep my 256 GB SSD drive, then I have to do more frequent backups and do manual cleanup of the SSD. This can sometimes get a little annoying. If I upgrade to a 512 GB SSD, then I don't need to do manual clean up. The upside of having a smaller drive is that It forces me to backup more frequently, and thus less likelY to lose data. So basically I was struggling to decide whether I should spend $1000 more for some convenience. The main barrier for me is my not so pleasant experience with the PC, they last anywhere from less than 1 year to 3 years. My external HD have been saving me each time. So dropping $4000 for a laptop that I use in the next 1-3 years sounds a bit wasteful. Too bad Apple does not have a lightweight MAcbook pro.

On the other hand, if I do frequent rewriting of data, I wonder whether I may shorten the lifespan of the SSD. So having a bigger SSD may be more reliable. But when I read that some hypothetical calculations estimated SSD lifespan can be 13 to 25 years, my concern may not be an actual problem considering that the laptop may break down or become obsolete within 5 years anyways. So part of my post is to ask the experts whether this is a reasonable assumption.

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About your comments
by Dango517 / November 13, 2010 2:11 PM PST

First about this:

"Photoshop and HD movie editing (may try 3D HD camcorder in near future)."

You'll need good graphics card for these applications.

Then this:

"quite a bit faster than my old laptops, especially the startup."

That's the RAm doing that and Windows 7 if you have it.

Now about SSDs ....... In theory they should last much longer because they have no moving parts. They do however in a sense wear out from what I've read due to reads and writes (input and outputs) to it. The sectors go bad causing data loss or so I've read. I've also seen this happen in USBs as well after several over writes. RAM, USBs and SSD drive all use SDram.

Also see:

I do run something like an SSD drive called RAMdisk it uses RAM as a hard drive and I would recommend it to those that have as much as 4 GBs of RAM available on there PCs. It's a bit difficult to install so it might best be left to those with hard drive configuration experience.

It's free for up too 4 GBs of RAM. I do not work for them nor am I affiliated with them in any other way other then I use there product.

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