The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide To Flash Memory • May 5, 2020
Flash Storage: Why You Should Make The Switch Now
Written by: Kevin Ashwe
Find out the differences of flash storage from SDD and HDD and why you should switch to this popular storage device today.
Flash storage systems have become quite popular today. With its popularity comes numerous questions regarding its functions, benefits and more. Read on to know what flash storage stands for, its benefits, and the differences between SSD (Solid-state drive)Check Latest Price and HDD (Hard Disk Drive)Check Latest Price .
What Is Flash Storage?
Flash storage refers to a data storage system that helps to store information permanently using flash memory. The flash storage system derives its name, “flash,” from the speed with which it works. It works with a type of non-volatile memory known as “flash memory.” This memory is distinct for its ability to maintain and keep stored data without dependence on power. By virtue of this memory, data remains intact even when you turn off the disk.
Flash memory is common in several computing devices today. However, the level of complexity and size of flash storage systems may differ depending on the device. MP3 players and smartphones which had the mechanical HDD system also now use this memory. Flash proves to be of more advantage, given its lesser power consumption, speed, and data protection functions. This type of memory is also commonly used in modern laptop computers, notebooks, cameras and more.
Memory vs. Storage
The term storage has often been mistaken for memory. However, there is a technical difference between the two terms. Hence, to understand the flash storage system as well as other storage devices we will discuss in this article, we need to know the difference between the two terms.
- In very basic terms, memory refers to the system in the computer that allows a user to access short term data. It is simply understood as the RAM. On the other hand, storage refers to the capacity of a hard disk or the component of the computer that allows a user to store or save information.
- While memory keeps information or data on a short term basis, storage keeps and retains information permanently.
- The capacity of storage is always larger than that of memory. A computer’s storage may be as large as 250 GB to 1 TB, while storage is most common around 2 GB, 4 GB, 6 GB to around 16 GB.
- Storage is basically used to store data and vital information like files and programs while memory is only built to store the operational data.
- Storage runs much slower than memory.
- Memory is generally more expensive than storage.
How Does Flash Storage Work?
Flash storage stores data through the recognition of a charge on a capacitor as a binary digit (bit). In most flash storage systems, you have memory chips that are responsible for storing data, and a flash controller which is responsible for access into the storage space found on the memory unit. The flash controller, by working with a Random Access Memory (RAM) sees to it that the storage cache buffers the data activities in several chips. This ensures that the storage average speed is inhibited.
Flash storage systems are designed to consume only less power since no moving part is involved. Consequently, the average SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) flash driveCheck Latest Price only requires about 50% of the power required by its HDD (Hard Disk Drive) counterparts to function perfectly. The fact that flash drives have no mechanical limitations gives them an edge in time.
Flash Storage Examples/Interfaces
There are a number of flash storage interfaces for computer memory. These include USB, M.2, SATA, SAS, PCle, and SuperSpeed USB. Among these, SATA is the most common. It is mostly found in desktops, laptops, and notebook computers. The SATA’s 6GB version comes with the ability to get rid of bandwidth bottlenecks. The latest of these interfaces is the SuperSpeed USB, also known as the USB 3.1 Gen 2. Since its availability in 2013, it has greatly dominated the use of mobile devices and flash drives.
What Is A USB Flash Storage Drive?
A USB flash driveCheck Latest Price is best described as a lightweight plug-and-play storage device that makes use of flash memory. It is often portable and as large as the size of a human thumb. It is also referred to as a data stick, memory unit, jump drive, thumb drive, and keychain drive.
The USB drive is one of the devices with flash memory. In fact, it is arguably the most recognized device linked with the possession of flash memory. It is designed to work perfectly in place of a compact disc. When plugged into a computer’s USB port, the computer’s OS (Operating System) identifies it as a removable drive, thus, assigning it a drive letter.
The USB flash drive stores or saves important files and documents. Hence, it can be the perfect device for system back-up to prevent the total loss of important data. The device is also commonly used for transmitting or transporting applications or settings from one computer to the other, launch an OS, troubleshoot computer issues, or run diagnostics.
No Moving Parts
USB flash drives, just like other flash storage systems, have no moving parts. Hence, they only consume little amounts of power. They are typically built to be strong enough to withstand some amount of dust, pressure, scratches, and mechanical shocks. Most modern flash drive devices are also built to be waterproof.
The USB flash drive further proves to be just the ideal device for transferring files between computers and for back-up use, given its ability also to retain data for a long period of time when it is not plugged to a computer or when plugged to a powered-down computer. This is peculiar to every flash storage device. Also, compared to several removable drives, the USB flash drive doesn’t require rebooting upon being plugged to a computer. Several modern USB flash drives come with interesting features like password protection which helps to protect personal data from strangers, and downloadable drivers which ensures the compatibility of the device with much older computer systems with no USB ports.
Best Flash Storage Drives/Devices for You in 2020
It is important to note that the functionality of these devices varies. Hence, before deciding which flash storage device to go for, there are a few things to consider. Some of these are:
This would depend on the amount of information you are aiming to save with the device. Flash storage devices come in varying capacities ranging from 1GB to 1TB. There is a range of options available to choose from.
This is of fundamental importance if you are considering the safety and security of the information you want to save on the device. Generally, flash storage devices can be easy to track, thus, giving out some security risks. However, some of them come with some full disk encryption programs which help to protect removable media. Some can also feature a PIN feature that requires users to set a PIN which would help keep off intruders.
This is of importance for users who are likely to transfer large files often. The average speed of most devices is 5Gbps (for 3.0 interface). Users who are considering very high speeds would opt for 3.1 Gen 2 interface which comes with transfer speeds of 10Gbps.
Now, here is a list of some of the fastest and most effective flash storage drives you can have in 2020:
This device offers a wide range of storage options to users who are considering its range of 32GB to 256GB. Its USB 3.1 interface makes it a very apt choice for users who are particular about transfer speed, given its transfer speed of up to 300 MBps. At just $36.90, it is not too expensive for the quality offered.
This device is definitely one of the best to get at a price of less than $10. It comes with storage capacities ranging from 16GB to 128GB. Its USB 3.0 interface offers a speed that is just ideal for regular use. This flash drive goes for just $8.90.
This device is made for users who are looking at transferring and storing large amounts of information. The drive comes with a storage capacity that ranges from 128GB to 256GB. It also comes with a USB 3.1 connectivity and is able to deliver speeds of up to 420 MBps.
This flash storage device provides great functionality. It comes with a USB 3.1 connectivity and is able to deliver great speeds. It offers a wide range of storage options given its storage capacity which ranges from 8GB to 256GB.
This is another functional and aesthetically pleasing device. Built with high-quality metal, it makes it very strong and able to withstand high amounts of pressure. It is also waterproof, magnet-proof, temperature-proof, and X-ray-proof. This drive comes with 32GB and 64GB storage and with a USB 3.0 connectivity.
What Does SSD Stand For?
A solid-state drive, given its definition, is likely to be mistaken for a flash storage device in several ways. However, it is typically a device that also makes use of flash storage to deliver fast and efficient performance. While the flash storage refers loosely to a data storage system that ensures the storing of information without power being applied, the solid-state drive refers basically to a hard drive that uses flash memory and is without moving parts.
When SSDs originated, they were designed to use RAM instead of flash storage. SSDs were not made out of flash storage until the late 2000s when the flash storage system had improved and had been popularized. The SSD was developed to improve upon on the SDD (Spinning Disk Drives). While the Spinning Disk Drives had moving parts and were much slower to read memory, the SSD had no moving parts and was a lot faster than conventional hard drives.
Since they use flash storage, SSDs are considered to be much faster and effective compared to other hard drives. SSDs differ from other traditional types of hard drives primarily because they do not have moving parts (while these other hard drives do). This equips them with faster and shortened times for seeking and booting. Compared to conventional hard drives, they are also a lot quieter.
SSD and USB Flash Storage Drive
As pointed out earlier, the USB flash storage drive has used the flash storage system for a long time. In fact, they are often mistaken to be the same. USB flash storage drive is also among the earliest drives designed to work through the flash storage system. However, the key difference between flash storage drive and the solid-state drive is the differences in the levels of the flash storage used by the two drives. The flash storage in USB flash storage drives is much lower than the one used in solid-state drives.
The Different Types of SSDs
There are a number of SSDs, based on the differences in functionalities. Hence, if you need to attach one to your system, it is important to know what type of SSD you are purchasing. The following are the main types of SSDs.
PCle and NVMe SSDs
These sets of SSDs are primarily used for connecting network cards, graphic cards, and etc. Basically, they are used to connect all forms of heavy-duty peripherals. These sets of SSDs with this connection type are powered by the NVMe (Nonvolatile Memory Express Standard). As a result of the NVMe, these sets of SSDs guarantee you low latency and high bandwidth. This makes them apt for smooth and hitch-free interaction between your CPU/RAM and the SSD. The NVMe offers a relatively higher IOPS (input-output per second), ensuring a speed rate of up to 16 GBits per second.
mSATA III, SATA III, and traditional SSDs
Basically designed for speeds of up around 600 MB per second or 6 GBit/s, the SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) is a little bit older than the PCle and NVMe. However, the glaring fact is that SATA is constantly losing its relevance, and being replaced by the NVME, which is a lot faster and efficient. Nevertheless, the SATA works just fine with PCs that aren’t necessarily required to meet the standard of the modern speed rate. In fact, older PCs with hard disk drives will function optimally when upgraded to SATA-based SSDs.
Uses and Benefits of SSDs
SSDs have a range of benefits attached to them. They proffer apt solutions to a lot of computing challenges. Here are a few of the benefits connected to the use of SSDs:
They help servers get fast reads and writes
This is particularly made possible by the net-breaking speed that they offer.
They ensure faster and more effective IT-related services
IT-related services like data analysis, programming, and etc. depend on SSD to ensure that they function optimally. Faster file-transfer speeds and access times are fundamental to IT operations.
They ensure faster and hitch-free gaming
Gaming has evolved with the use of SSDs. Modern high-end games depend on very fast computer memories to guarantee great user experiences. The use of SSD has ensured that such games load and write files with a level of speed and without technical hitches.
They are best for conserving power
The fact that they consume much lesser power compared to their HDD counterparts have made them just the perfect solution to guarantee greater battery life. The fact that they are also shock resistant helps to ensure the security of data.
Flash Storage vs SSD (Solid-state Drive)
It is important to note that while flash storage refers generically to a system of storage that uses erasable memory modules with no mechanically moving parts, solid-state drives refer specifically to an enclosed storage device that is meant to serve as a storage disk for a computer. In fact, the two can often be interwoven since the SSD uses flash memory. Here are some points to effectively distinguish between the two concepts.
- The flash storage is a system of permanently storing information without continuous application of power while the SSD is a hard drive that makes use of flash storage (although, it was initially based on RAM).
- The SSD was the result of an improvement upon SDDs, flash storage system became popularized and widely-used much later in the 2000s.
Best Solid-State Drives For You In 2020
Depending on your primary purpose or reasons for an SSD, there is a need to consider a few factors as listed below:
Of course, this is a very important factor to consider (if not the most important). If you are particular about an SSD that would only help you keep your OS and Apps (while the secondary HDD would keep other information), a 40GB or 80GB SSD would be just fine. However, if you are planning to replace your entire HDD with a new SSD, you might prefer something that is a little bit higher – depending on the extent of data you’d like to save, you can opt for a 250GB or 5000GB.
Type of Flash Memory
This is of particular relevance to users who are likely to use their computers for SSD-intensive programs. The flash storage contained in SSDs is the NAND-type. Now, of the NAND types, there are some levels of variations that come with each SSD. The SLC (Single Level Cell) is usually the most preferred of all as the fastest. It comes with a total of 90000 to 100000 R/W circles before failure, with a bit per cell. It is closely followed by eMLC (enterprise Multi-Level cells) which come with over 20000 to 30000 R/W circles before failure, with 2 bits per cell. Also, the MLC (Multi-Level cells) comes with 8000 to 10000 R/W before failure. Finally, the TLC (Triple-Level cell), the slowest of all, comes with 3000 to 5000 R/W before failure.
Since most SSDs (aside those used for graphic cards, network cards, etc.) come with the SATA interface, there is a need to consider the SATA version being used. This is because the different versions of SATA vary in speed. The SATA III offers the highest speed, with up to 6GB transfer speed. SATA II is only capable of transferring speed of up to 3GB, while the SATA 1 is capable of up to 1.5GB speed.
Brand and Warranty
It is important to opt for trusted brands. One thing to do is to also ensure that you have critically reviewed the product you are opting for. Better still, you can go for products with warranties.
Here is a list of some of the most reliable SSD brands for you in 2020:
This product is definitely a top choice for PC gamers or users who run high SSD speed-intensive programs on their computers. With a high random read speed of over 412.5 MB/s, it offers very high random speeds to meet your high-end uses. Another interesting thing about this SSD is the fact that it comes with a 5-year warranty.
The Evo Plus offers a wide range of capacities to choose from (250GB, 500GB, 1TB, amd 2TB). It is capable of read speeds of around 400 MB/s. It also comes with a 5-year warranty.
This is definitely one of the fastest SSDs you can find just anywhere. It has read/write speeds of 3060 MB/s and 1765 MB/s respectively. This SSD comes in varying capacities 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB. It also comes with a 5-year warranty.
With 128GB, 156GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities, this SSD offers a much larger range of storage alternatives t0 choose from, compared to other alternatives. It comes with read/write speeds of 2600 MB/s and 1600 MB/s. With a 3-years warranty, any user should be attracted.
This definitely ranks among the top choice products for users who are particular about fast SSDs. The SSD comes with 2600 MB/s and 2200 MB/s sequential read and write speeds. It is only ideal for buyers who are aiming to buy high capacity SSDs, given its 1.5 TB capacity. It comes with a 5-year warranty.
What Is Hard Disk Drive (HDD)?
The Hard Disk Drive is a non-volatile hardware device that is responsible for controlling the reading, writing, and positioning of the hard disk to ensure data storage. In simpler terms, HDDs can be defined as the main and largest data storage hard disk in a computer. It is responsible for accommodating a computer’s operating system, software programs, and files, etc.
The HDD can also be referred to as the ‘C drive.’ This name originates from the Microsoft Windows’ designation of the letter “C” to the primary partition of the computer’s hard drive. It is also commonly referred to as hard disk, fixed drive, fixed disk drive, hard disk, hard disk drive, etc. HDDs are not only found in computers, but they can also be found in consumer electronics, mobile devices, and etc.
Just the size of a regular paper-back book, hard disk drives are generally best recognized as a unit of different things. The HDD in a computer, for instance, is fixed to the motherboard with a SATA, ATA or SCSI cable. It is usually found in the drive bay. Its sides contain threaded holes that make it easy for it to be mounted into the drive bay. It is mounted in a way that ensures that it is the side with the connections that faces inside the computer.
By being a non-volatile storage, the HDD is able to retain its data even when it is powered off. This explains why you can switch off and switch on your computer without losing the data you had on it before switching it off. This is unlike a volatile storage like RAM. The HDD contains sectors stored on a spindle of platters. These platters are responsible for reading and writing data on the drive.
Kinds of Hard Drive
The computer hard drive is often believed or assumed to be the only kind of hard drive. Even though this may, in the general sense, be accepted; technically, this isn’t the case. There are some other forms and sizes of hard drives; while some are very large, some others are very small. The flash storage drive, for instance, can be said to have a hard drive too (even though it may not look or spin like the conventional hard drive). The hard drives contained in flash storage devices are solid-state drives that are built into the devices.
Differences between HDD (Hard Disk Drive) and SSD (Solid-state Drive)
Over time, SSDs have gradually but steadily replaced HDD for a few reasons. Primarily, SSDs are most preferred, given the fact that they are much more in sync with modern computing. Here are a few differences to note about the drives:
- SSDs are perfect alternatives for HDDs.
- While hard disks contain moving parts (as a result of which they consume much power), SSDs contain no moving parts (as a result of which they consume lesser power).
- SSDs have much lower latency compared to HDDs. As a result of this, they are most preferred for storing vital data, applications, and software with high input and output demand.
- Unlike HDDs, SDDs are basically built for the purpose of delivering high read and write functionalities both for random and sequential data requests.
- HDDs are a much cheaper option compared to SSDs. This is no surprise as they are generally less preferred.
Flash Storage vs. Hard Disk Drives (HDD)
Flash storage, as we have earlier explained, refers to a storage system that is responsible for modern storage drives like SSDs, flash storage drives, and etc. Hard Disk Drives is, like SSD, a storage drive (but one with moving parts).
Benefits of Flash Storage
Storage devices based on flash storage are fast dominating the computer world. This, as we have shown, is no surprise, as it comes with much better features compared to the traditional storage system before it. Here are a few distinctive benefits of flash storage:
A Lot More Durable and Secure
Compared to traditional storage, the fact that flash storage has no moving parts makes it less likely to break down quickly. Also, it helps to ensure the safety of saved data. In other words, saved data is secured irrespective of power disconnection and shocks.
It Helps Conserve Energy
The fact that it has no moving parts makes it less dependent on energy. Compared to older storage drives, modern drives using flash storage are much preferred because they help to conserve battery life.
Storage Devices Using Flash Storage Generate Lesser Heat
Again, the fact that older storage drives have moving parts makes them generate much heat. HDDs, for instance, have discs that are constantly spinning, as a result of which they generate much heat. Devices using flash storage, on the other hand, generate little or no heat at all.
Provides Faster Data Access
One of the most fundamental reasons why flash storage has become so popular is the stupendous speed it offers. Devices using flash storage are said to be 100 times faster than older storage devices. In fact, the term “flash” which characterizes its name describes its speed.
Paved The Way For Large Storage Capacities On Small Devices
It is as a result of the flash storage that smartphones and other small mobile devices feature huge memory capacities.
The flash storage helps store information without moving parts and without the application of power. The SSD and the HDD, on the other hand, refer to specific hard drives. However, while the SSD uses flash storage, the HDD is an older drive that doesn’t. The article has also clearly pointed out why flash storage is fast dominating the conventional computer world and why you should make the switch.