What is a Solid State Drive?

G. Wiesen

A solid state drive is a device, often used with computers and similar technology, which stores data on short-term or long-term memory. This sort of device is different from disc drives in that disc drives have a physical disc that spins as data is written to or retrieved from the drive, while solid state drives do not have any internal moving parts. The memory is stored on microchips within the drive itself, which has a number of potential benefits and a few drawbacks. A solid state drive can be designed using different technologies to act as either volatile or non-volatile memory.


There are a number of different devices that utilize a solid state drive for data storage, including flash drives, camera and phone memory sticks, and digital video recorders (DVRs). In a disc drive or hard disc drive, there is a magnetic disc that spins around and read/write heads that can store and retrieve data. A solid state drive has no such moving parts, using microchips and various forms of memory instead, which is why it is referred to as “solid state” since it is not moving while in use.

Solid-state drives have replaced traditional hard drives in many laptops and netbooks.
Solid-state drives have replaced traditional hard drives in many laptops and netbooks.

Since there are no moving parts in a solid state drive, there is typically less chance of hardware failure due to shock or vibration. Disc drives can become corrupted due to the heads shifting out of proper position, making it impossible to access or save data onto the disc without repair. This type of malfunction cannot happen with a solid state drive, and the drive itself is typically less prone to mechanical failure due to repeated use. These drives can also more quickly access data stored on them and do not produce as much sound while in use.

On the other hand, a solid state drive is typically more expensive to produce at high memory sizes, which is why it is typically used for smaller data storage purposes. Depending on the type of hardware used within a solid state drive, it can be either volatile or non-volatile memory. Volatile memory requires a power source for any data stored in it to be retained — this is often used for random access memory (RAM) in a computer — and without power the data is lost. Non-volatile memory, on the other hand, requires no power to retain data that is stored on it and is often used for flash memory and for external storage devices.

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