Tales from the SSD

When should you spend more money for an SSD (solid-state drive) hard drive? We’ve talked about speed and about having electronic components instead of mechanical components. Here are two examples of when an SSD makes sense.

One of our clients, an auto body shop, recently bought a new desktop computer, and complained, after a month, that it was running slowly. We checked for viruses and gave the new computer a clean bill of health, but the performance still wasn’t the client had expected.

As we talked, we learned that the computer was being taxed by the shop’s data needs. The client accesses a huge database that’s used to create estimates for repairs. The process is highly detailed, and the shop’s customers can be highly impatient.

We explored his options, which came down to two: buy a newer, more powerful desktop computer or install an SSD and tweak the settings for better performance. Our client chose the latter solution, and when we turned on the system, the screen came up much faster than it had when the computer was just out of the box. The faster speed has increased the shop’s estimating productivity exponentially, and our client considers it a successful upgrade.

Another client’s mishap led to the discovery that he had an SSD, and that saved his data and apps. He had just brought in his desktop computer for some tweaks a few days earlier, but we never opened up the unit. As he was carrying it up a flight of outdoor metal stairs to get to his second-floor office, he dropped it.

He brought it back, and to our surprise it booted up. When we looked inside, we found a lot of broken components – and we did found a solid-state drive. This was good fortune. Had it been a mechanical hard drive, the fall likely would have damaged it beyond recovery, and all of the data and apps stored on it would have been lost. All of the other broken pieces were repairable, and our client was very happy.

Today, we are selling more desktop computers with SSDs because more clients are finding they can earn a faster ROI, such as our auto body shop. We don’t expect that computers will be dropped or damaged in some other way, but you can always insure your data and apps remain accessible by backing up your hard drive – a separate issue. Having the SSD was a bonus in this case.

If you’re thinking about a new desktop computer, we can help you with a cost-benefit analysis to see which type of hard drive best serves your productivity needs and your budget. We can also help with ROI projections. Just give us a call – 973-433-6676 – or send us an email to talk about it.

Disappearing Hard Drives?

Will your hard drive go the way of the floppy disk? Fifteen years ago, I never would have given it a thought. Now, I think it’s coming.

Mechanical hard drives have inherent problems. One is that they can wear and crash, and unless you have a good backup system in place, you can lose a lot of important data. Another is that they are slow – some slower than others by design and some slower because they fill up and don’t give your software space to search for the files you need.

The next alternative is the SSD (solid state drive), which is much faster but also much more expensive. While it always comes down to a cost-benefit analysis, the speed differential can be substantial. On startup, a computer with an SSD can be ready to work in 30 to 40 seconds. It can take three to four minutes for a computer with a hard drive to boot up.

The difference won’t seem that great until you experience it for yourself – or see somebody else’s system boot up faster. We love faster computers, and the more data we need to crunch, the more we crave that speed and performance. We have a number of clients who have made the switch and have found it worth the expense to increase their productivity.

If you’re not ready to commit to SSD technology, you could speed up your current technology by moving your data storage to the cloud. With fewer files taking up less space, your computer will have room to look through your hard drive to find the files you need. It will make it faster to save files, too. You could gain a significant time advantage by only keeping “working” files on your hard drive and then putting everything back onto your cloud’s server when you’re finished.

With technology changing so quickly, you may also want to think about changing your hardware more frequently to make more productive systems work more cost-effectively. Businesses depend on productivity increases to reduce costs and add profitability. We can help you look at the future and see what pathways will get you to your goals. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to talk about your evolving needs as the tech revolution continues.

Traditional Laptop or SSD

Where do you draw the line between speed and price for a new computer? While traditional, business laptops pack a lot of computing power for business applications, newer SSD-based technology, such as the MacBook and Surface families, are a lot, lot faster. They’re also a lot, lot more expensive. Here are some points to consider:

Cost – How much money do you really want to spend? The premium for speed and performance is considerable.

Patience or Impatience – In today’s on-demand world, many computer users are losing patience with their computer’s boot-up time, either when you power it up, restart it or awaken it from sleep mode. In some cases, your impatience can be justified. If you are making a sales presentation, for example, you just don’t want to waste time for your computer to go through its start-up routine, and you want to give the impression you and your technology are on top of your game.

You can manage the start-up time through Task Manager by deciding which applications to load, but that’s something you should do in advance of any presentations. Trying to do it seamlessly while standing in front of people you want to impress probably won’t come off as you’d like.

The difference between the technologies in start-up time can be a couple of interminable minutes, and patience may not be an option.

Physical – Consider a couple of physical points, especially if you will be traveling a lot with your computer. The MacBooks and Surfaces are a lot lighter than traditional laptops. Additionally, SSDs are much more resilient and better able to avoid damage if you drop your computer or if it gets jostled a little too vigorously.

Free Space on Drive – If you have a lot of free space on your hard drive, you may not need the faster SSD or MacBook just to improve performance. As we’ve pointed out, you need to leave room on your hard drive so that your applications have room to move files and do their work. Look at your drive’s capacity and at what you’re storing. Your hard drive should be a minimum of 256 GB, but 500 GB or 1 TB are much more realistic. If you need more space, you can always offload data files to the cloud. If you have a lot of free space and don’t anticipate needing a great deal of storage, you might not need the speed and performance – and expense – of SSD technology.

Flexibility – You don’t necessarily need to buy a new computer to get SSD technology. Depending on the age and RAM capacity of your existing computer, you could buy and install a new SSD hard drive, and that might a good investment to give you a performance boost for a year or two – maybe longer – if that’s what you need.

We are getting into the heavy buying season for electronics, so you can expect to see a lot of choices and price points. New products and ways to upgrade an existing computer will give you enough options to make your head spin. You can make your best decision after you gather all the facts, and that’s where we can help. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your needs and budgets for now and for the next few years, and we can guide you to the best options.