We deal with technology on a regular basis. The majority of the population go online through their phones and tablets, many still access the web through computers and laptops, especially students, professionals, and entrepreneurs who have more advanced computing needs.
While most computers have a built-in hard drive for storage, some have external drives (read about recovering them here), some use SSDs instead. A solid-state drive wasn’t really an option for many in the past because of its high price but its price has gone considerably over the last few years. And as such, SSDs become a more reasonable expense for many. It offers computer users all the benefits of your average hard drive with a few extra bonuses.
The issue of SSD drive life is coming to the fore – the economics of solid state storage is being turned on its head thanks to the introduction of longer-lasting enterprise SSDs.
In short, the SSD lifetime is getting longer – and with time will grow far longer.
“Dramatic Effect” of Enterprise SSDs
“When the lifespans of enterprise SSDs change, the effect is dramatic,” he said. “It affects not just the running costs but also migration, and it overlaps with all the other things built in to the total cost of ownership. So this is huge, and it overwhelms the price differential between spinning disk and flash.”
It’s an important point because enterprise SSD storage remains stubbornly more expensive than spinning-disk storage in terms of cost per gigabyte to purchase. But hard drive storage systems are only designed for a useful life of about three years, after which they have to be replaced and the data migrated to the new hardware. If enterprise SSD systems need to be replaced far less frequently, the effect is a significant reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO).
And SSDs even work better than traditional hard drives in any recovery plan – although you have to keep in mind that while many think of these things at a personal level, they are actually more effective on a grander scale (like in big businesses and organizations perhaps).
Today, 1 TB SSDs are very inexpensive, retailing from distributors at around $200. This is still considerably higher than backup/archiving workhorse hard drives, which deliver 4 TB or more for the same price.
SSDs get interesting when we look at the backup window, which for many sites is just too long, and getting longer as storage grows. We are moving data to the cloud, too, using gateway appliances, but the WAN performance is fixed and limited, which implies a good buffer is a necessary part of the design.
This is where those large SSDs become very useful for backup and recovery plans. Data can be journaled on the gateway using a pair of SSDs in a mirror configuration for data integrity. The large SSDs allow many parallel backup streams, limited only by the LAN connection’s capacity. This shortens the backup window significantly.
SSDs have gone far in the computing world. It is why some are even worried about getting rid of data stored in SSDs that they don’t want other people to know.
If you’re curious about the technical reasons why traditional formatting or hard drive destruction isn’t the best way to securely erase data on SSDs, Backblaze has a great guide that details why old hard drive methods don’t work. The short version is that there is no standard method for securely deleting data from an SSD, and that means there’s no universally accepted secure format option for SSDs. Some manufacturers make their own software for formatting their own hard drives, but it’s tough to independently verify any of them.
Instead, Backblaze (and others) suggest two approaches, encrypt the SSD and throw away the key, or shred it. Shredding an SSD requires a special machine that most of us don’t have access to, so let’s just focus on the encryption method. This is good enough for most of us who aren’t working on top secret projects because without the encryption key, an encrypted SSD is basically just a drive full of random ones and zeroes.
If you’re getting rid of an SSD for whatever reason, the process is simple, encrypt it first, format it, and if you want to be super careful, encrypt it again.
In a nutshell, these are just some of the things you need to be aware of when using SSDs. Dealing with computers is not always a walk in the park for ordinary people but knowing the basics can go a long way and save you from all the hassles associated with technology use.