Buying Your First SSD: What You Need to Know

Computers have become such an essential fixture for us that we entrust them with our personal information. You have to leave no stones unturned when it comes to protecting your data. Threats are all around the Internet, so browsing carefully is a must. But what preparations have you done when it comes to hardware failure?

Many are still using platter hard drives. There are a lot of moving parts in it that increase the failure possibility the older the hardware is. If you have one that is several years old already, you’d better have a backup plan. You can get network backup software as a good solution. This can be paired with cloud storage to eliminate that hardware roadblock effectively.

If you’re going to retire that platter drive and want to copy its contents to a new one, getting a solid-state drive (SSD) is a must these days. As the name suggests, this no longer uses a spinning platter to store data; rather, everything is now stored in chips. Having no moving parts means that your data is more secure when there are instances of vibrations or shock. Aside from this, the most notable benefit is speed. It’s best that you install the operating system and your most used programs here so that they load quickly.

When it comes to SSDs, there are various options. Their different form factors and protocols are interchanged by some. We will break these down for you so that you know their differences. Here is a guide for getting your first SSD.

Form Factors

The two form factors that you have to know are the serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) and m.2. When you build a computer, the SATA data ports are mainly used for internal storage. They are similar in size to USB-A, but the plug has an L-shape peg in it. You plug one end of this to the motherboard and the other to your SATA drive. Then you plug a power cable coming from the power supply going to the drive. The SSD in this form factor looks very similar to your 2.5-inch laptop hard drives.

M.2 SSDs meanwhile are smaller, like a stick of gum. Recent motherboards have slots for these. All you need to do is to plug the stick in and screw it down, no need for cables. If you want a cleaner build, go for this form factor.


This is where some of the confusion starts. You can see m.2 SSDs being labeled as SATA. The quick explanation: SATA is both a form factor and protocol. You will know if it’s being used as a protocol if it is followed by data access speed, like SATA 6 Gbit/s. M.2 can use both the NVMe and SATA protocols. The former are the faster of the two and use one of the PCI-e lanes available in the system. These are the same lanes that are used by video cards, which means that they are made to support high-speed data access. As a comparison, SATA SSD has a throughput of 550 MBit/s while an NVMe SSD is at 3 GBit/s. That is almost six times faster.

SSDs are easy to handle and install. They offer increased read and write speeds no matter which form factor or protocol you choose. It is a significant step forward coming from the old platter hard drives. If you want an upgrade whose effects you can feel right away, get an SSD.

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