Alexander: The interest of swapping a PC’s hard drive for an SSD memory

Q: I am interested in purchasing an SSD (solid state disk) with computer chip memory to replace a mechanical hard drive. What are the main differences between SSDs and HDDs?

NICK JAKUBOWSKY, Saint-Paul

A: The age of your computer can determine whether you can replace its hard drive with an SSD.

An older computer needs a SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) connection to connect to most SSDs. But there have been several types of SATA connections since the early 2000s, and you’ll need a computer repair shop to tell you if your PC has the right one for today’s SSDs.

Reasons why you would want an SSD:

  • SSDs are faster because they use flash memory (a computer chip technology) instead of a spinning disk with a read-write device suspended above it. Some experts say that an average SSD reads data about 10 times faster and writes data about 20 times faster than an HDD.
  • SSDs are a plus for travelers because they are lighter and consume less power than HDDs.
  • Consumer SSDs now have capacities of 1 terabyte or more, comparable to HDDs.
  • SSDs have no moving parts, so they are less subject to wear and tear than HDDs. However, SSDs wear out because their circuitry only works a limited number of times.
  • You don’t need to defrag an SSD. Defragmenting a hard drive puts entire files in one place, reducing data access time. Defragmenting a fast SSD will not speed it up.

Reasons you wouldn’t want an SSD:

  • SSDs are more expensive than HDDs. At best, a 1 terabyte SSD costs about twice as much as a comparable disk drive, and some SSD models cost more.
  • Even if a hard disk fails, its data is often recoverable from the physical disk. If an SSD fails, its data will likely be lost inside a digital circuit.

Q: My Windows 10 laptop freezes (I get a blue screen and the PC restarts) when I try to save a file to a USB flash drive. The same flash drive works with other PCs. What’s wrong?

JERRY JOHNSON, Colorado Springs

A: The cause may be a flash drive format issue or a security software issue. Windows PCs today are formatted with NTFS (New Technology Files System), but the format is not widely used elsewhere. Flash drives typically use the FAT32 (File Allocation Table32) format, making them compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux computer operating systems as well as smart TVs, cameras, and smartphones.

Normally there is no problem using a FAT32 formatted flash drive with an NTFS formatted PC. But an old Windows file called Sysmon (System Monitor) version 11.11 was not compatible with the FAT32 format used by flash drives, and it could cause the PC to crash when a flash drive was used. The latest version of Sysmon software (version 13.32), does not have this problem. (You can download it from tinyurl.com/yzjr2yj3).

The PC crashing issue has also been linked to flash drives encrypted with software from Check Point Software Technologies. Older versions of the software used a file called MeDlpFlt.sysCQ (Media Encryption Data Loss Prevention Filter) which caused the problem (for details see tinyurl.com/yc7s8e6p). If you use or have used Check Point’s software, you will need to contact the company for assistance (access to the solution is limited to customers.)

Email your technical questions to [email protected] or write to Tech Q&A, 650 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city, and phone number.

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