As we demand more performance from our IT systems, our choices can come down to balancing the speed to write files and the cost of storage media. You can have the best of both worlds if you combine planning and foresight.
A number of so-called “power users” have fallen in love with SSD (solid state) drives, which are totally electronic. They contain no moving parts and they can write data to memory with lightning speed. But they have their downsides, such as cost per gigabyte of storage and the lifetime of the data in flash memory. Data recovery is a much more complicated and labor-intensive process than if you have mechanical drives.
As a result, we think they’re better suited for users with higher levels of technical knowledge and corporations that have the technical capability to support the drives and their users. Most users and small businesses can get great system performance by buying the right drives for computers and servers and planning to replace systems after five years.
We find some basics have held true over our 20 years of IT service.
For individual computers, we recommend SATA drives. They are more than adequate in terms of storage size and speed and provide good cost value. Today’s desktop and laptop computers are available with hard drives having 1 terabyte or more of storage. Some bargain hunters think they’re saving money by buying a smaller 500 GB hard drive, but file sizes are growing larger, and they can eat up free space very quickly. If you’re planning to keep your computer five years – or even longer – you’ll likely exhaust the capacity sooner than you planned, and you’ll need to replace the hard drive (and restore files) or buy a larger external hard drive. As we’ve noted before, once you approach 60% to 75% of your hard drive’s capacity, you make it more difficult for your computer to write files to the drive, and that can severely limit performance. It’s much more cost-effective to buy a large-capacity drive with the computer, which is already set up with the right RAM (random access memory) capacity and motherboard to optimize performance.In addition to size, get a hard drive with enough speed. In general, SATA drives range up to 7200 RPM. When you combine the larger size and RAM with the higher speed, you’ll get better performance for a longer time, and that will keep you happier with your investment.
If you do find you need a new hard drive for your desktop, we may be able to walk you through the process of installing your new drive and recovering your data from an online backup site or an external drive.
For a server, we’ve found SAS drives running at 10,000 to 15,000 RPM offer the best performance. Again, your needs will grow as your business grows, and you’ll want to be able to add upgraded application software, more file storage capacity and more users without sacrificing performance. Whatever you save in buying under-performing technology can be eaten up very quickly in reduced production and unnecessary, unplanned downtime.
For us, the bottom line is getting our clients to think proactively about planning for a cost-effective technology purchase today and budgeting for the next purchase. Everyone has different needs and budget constraints, but everyone has the opportunity to take a smart approach. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your hard-drive and system needs for your computers and servers. Making the right decision today can save you money and give you peace of mind.