Do your programs take too long to load? Tired of slow boot times? It could be that you just need to replace your old hard drive with a new one.

One of the main factors in the speed of your servers and desktops is the type of hard drive used.

Traditional “mechanical” drives work by spinning a metal platter with a head that moves across the surface. The faster the drive spins, the faster it can read and write data. The speed at which it spins is called RPM (revolutions per minute).

The speed that the platter rotates makes a huge difference in performance. Faster is better.

At the low end, you’ll occasionally find inexpensive drives in the 5,400 RPM range. These should be avoided because they are far too slow. 7,200 RPMs is the minimum speed range to consider for workstations and server environments.

When buying drives for a server or high-performance workstation, look for speeds in the 10,000 or 15,000 RPM range. Additionally, with a server you’ll gain better performance and load handling by splitting data across multiple hard drives in an array.

Solid State Drives (SSD) are another great option, especially since they’re coming way down in price. This makes them a more economical choice than ever before, but regular mechanical hard drives are still the most cost-effective choice.

The major benefit is that a solid state drive is extremely fast compared to mechanical drives. So fast, in fact, that an SSD can revive an old “slow” system and make it run like new.

SSDs are fast because they don’t use a platter or any moving parts — data is stored inside memory cells. This technology makes reading and writing data nearly instant compared to mechanical drives.

But you have some considerations to make if you go the SSD route.

First, SSDs can break like any hard drive. In some reports, an SSD can be working one minute and then fail–with no advance warning of any kind–the next time the computer is turned on.

In some cases, mechanical drives fail in reliable and predictable ways. Sometimes they’ll start to fail with unusable areas on the platter (bad sectors) before failing outright. The early stages of failure might allow you just enough time for replacement or data recovery, whereas SSDs can just suddenly fail completely and without notice.

Another problem is that all solid state drives will eventually exhaust themselves from use. That means these drives will go bad, even under normal workload. Worse, the memory cells will exhaust rapidly if used in a system that writes a lot of data frequently. Some people have found that frequent caching of data from their web browser was enough to start exhausting memory cells. That’s because flash memory used by SSDs has a given lifespan of data writes before they begin to break down.

But if the workload is primarily reading data, SSD can be an excellent, extremely fast choice.

The problem with SSD memory exhaustion has also created another generation of “hybrid” drives. Hybrid drives combine flash with mechanical platters. This increases the drive size and extends the usable lifecycle.

Hybrids aren’t necessarily as fast as an SSD, but you can gain some benefits of solid state speed with the durability of mechanical drives.

Looking to increase the disk space on your business computers? Or need to boost the speed of your not-quite-ready-to-replace machines? Contact us to find out how we can help!

E Squared C is a managed service provider (MSP) providing professional IT services for businesses in Nevada and California. By partnering with E2C, your business gains a team of experts who solve IT problems with reliable, efficient, and secure IT management services. Contact us to find out how our experts can help your business!