It seems we have come full circle again and we are starting to care about storage space on our computers. I remember growing up in the 80s when storage space mattered on personal computers. Primarily because hard drives were extremely expensive, so applications and operating systems needed to be tiny.
In the late 90s and even early 2000s, the plummeting prices and exponentially increasing capacity of magnetic storage disks meant we were caring less about what we were putting on our hard drives. Of course, increasing complexity of applications and operating systems (like OS X) meant we needed larger drives as well.
In the last two years, the introduction of solid state hard drives meant massive performance and reliability gains over their magnetic hard drive counterparts. I would say ever since the introduction of the MacBook Air, we have started to see more increasing demand and interest for personal computers to come from the factory with SSDs as opposed to standard hard drives. With the plummeting prices of SSD drives, it’s now completely reasonable to go out and buy an 80GB or even 120GB for less than $200. Granted, the price-to-storage space ratio in comparison to standard hard drives is still quite vast, but the performance gains that are to be had with SSDs are well worth the extra expensive.
I recently procured a late 2010 15″ MacBook Pro with a Core i7 CPU (yes just before the March refresh happened). The first thing I did was replace the stock 500GB hard drive with a 80GB OCZ brand SSD. Needless to say, the performance difference that I perceived was monumentally different (in favour of the SSD of course). The only problem I now am faced with is how I deal with storage space. I no longer can store my entire MP3 library (which is in excess of 30GB) plus all my favourite apps, games and developer tools. So what exactly can I do? Well, instead of freaking out I find myself being a bit more creative with my approach. Although I do prefer to have my iTunes library accessible at all times, I have moved most of my games and developer tools to an external hard drive. This in and of itself is really not as big of a deal as I was initially thinking. I must admit though, the initial thought of not having all of my precious data accessible 24/7 on the same computer was met with much trepidation. All in all, I’m left with being quite satisfied with my current setup for the most part. The huge performance benefits of my new SSD plus the reduced vibration and heat is just so awesome.
It’s inevitable that SSDs will fall in price and increase in capacity as they become more ubiquitous. With the help of Apple pushing flash based storage into all of their own products, I think the rest of the industry will follow in their foot steps and start opting for that instead of spindle disks. This really is a win-win situation for businesses and consumers.
Lastly I thought I would mention my next project. I plan on replacing the optical drive in my MacBook Pro with a secondary SSD drive and configure them in a striped RAID 0 configuration. I’ll follow up with another piece on that and post some benchmarks when it’s all done.