Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 27th Sep 2012 19:36 UTC
Apple I bought a brand new iMac on Tuesday. I'm pretty sure this will come as a surprise to some, so I figured I might as well offer some background information about this choice - maybe it'll help other people who are also pondering what to buy as their next computer.
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RE[2]: Something important missing
by Morgan on Thu 27th Sep 2012 21:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Something important missing"
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

Regarding SSD reliability: I've always been of the mind that you should run your OS and installed programs on the SSD for the speed gains and keep your data on a traditional HDD to avoid data loss. On GNU/Linux and BSD this is easy; during installation just put your /home on the HDD and you're good to go. On Windows you can point your User folder at a different volume with a few extra steps after installation.

Reply Parent Score: 4

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Regarding SSD reliability: I've always been of the mind that you should run your OS and installed programs on the SSD for the speed gains and keep your data on a traditional HDD to avoid data loss. On GNU/Linux and BSD this is easy; during installation just put your /home on the HDD and you're good to go. On Windows you can point your User folder at a different volume with a few extra steps after installation.


That's what I am planning to do once my SSD arrives: I'll move my Downloads - folder and most of the contents inside Application Data to a regular disk and link them to their appropriate place via NTFS junction points, but I'll keep Firefox's cache on the SSD because there's a gazillion files there and they're all very small ones -- a situation where an SSD excels and a regular HDD doesn't.

Would be nice if Windows offered some tools for trimming off the fat, though; at the moment my Windows - directory takes 23 gigabytes of storage, and that's not including my home directory, Program Files or anything like that.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I use Glary Utilities to fix a lot of the cruft in my Windows installs. It may not make much of a dent in that 23GB you have, but it might be worth a shot. Get the non-toolbar version from their site, or if you install it via ninite.com you don't have to worry about that at all.

Also, if you're running x64 Windows it will take up much more space than x86. To me it's worth the bloat to be able to run with 8GB of RAM.

EDIT: Just checked my Windows directory and it's at 17GB on a four month old install of Windows 7 Ultimate x64.

Edited 2012-09-28 00:52 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

I agree, this is the way to go if you happen to have an SSD. SSD for the system, hard drive for data. But I have to admit that I don't trust SSDs for the long term--even when used as a system drive. For example, if you regularly do a fresh install of your OS while keeping your /home directory intact, and you use a distro that has a release cycle of under a year, how many OS installs will you be able to do before bits start to go bad? Never mind the typical package updates throughout the lifespan of a distro; there are usually lots of those.

The fact that these things have to even be considered makes hard drives a more attractive choice in my opinion. Also, if you're a distro hopper you may run into problems sooner. What about swap space... should you put your swap partition on a hard drive, and then suffer the slowdown of using a hard drive anyway (eliminating one of SSD's biggest advantages) as soon you start running out of RAM--all because the SSD cannot be trusted for frequent rewrites?

Instead of getting one expensive drive that is just big enough to hold one OS and does not have proven reliability, I honestly think you'd be better off just getting a larger hard drive and partitioning it. Or even get a smaller "system" hard drive, and a bigger one for data. Sure, hard drives are also not known for their low failure rate, but at least they've been tried, tested and proven over the decades. It's a technology you can at least somewhat trust.

Modern computers and hard drives are so damn fast anyway, I honestly can't imagine an SSD being that big of an improvement over a good quality hard drive, performance-wise. Where SSD can truly beat the shit out of hard drives, though, is in laptops and similar portable devices; no moving parts means no physical damage, crashing, and data loss by accidentally dropping or bumping the computer. IMO, that is where SSDs truly shine. Then again, even in laptops I often hear about the battery or a corrupt/infected Windows installs far more often than a crashed hard drive.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I pretty much agree with you all the way, which is why I have yet to dive into the SSD world.

You mentioned swap and "running out of RAM" but most machines these days have 4GB or more of RAM out of the box, even laptops. While I don't think one should run without swap, I really don't see the benefit of putting it on an SSD if it will rarely be touched. The exception would be older machines limited to 2GB of RAM or less, though the cost/benefit equation of an SSD in such a machine is something else to ponder.

Reply Parent Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

But I have to admit that I don't trust SSDs for the long term--even when used as a system drive.


A regular consumer-oriented SSD should last around 10 years as a system drive just fine, even with swap on it. There are several websites about this, including specific burn-in benchmarks that just keep reading/writing the SSD until it goes bust.

Modern computers and hard drives are so damn fast anyway, I honestly can't imagine an SSD being that big of an improvement over a good quality hard drive


The difference is like a night and day. SSDs especially excel at reading small files and/or fragments that are scattered all over the disk because of the miniscule seek times. Out of curiosity I tested my regular HDDs the other day and got 7ms and 9ms seek times whereas a USB 3.0 stick got 0.05ms seek times. That's 140 times faster. And guess what? Typical OS-files and program libraries and binaries tend to be small files, scattered all over the place.

Regular HDDs are still good for sequential data, but even there SSDs these days trump HDDs in speeds, with some going up to 500MB/s sustained sequential write speeds.

Reply Parent Score: 3

christian Member since:
2005-07-06

I agree, this is the way to go if you happen to have an SSD. SSD for the system, hard drive for data. But I have to admit that I don't trust SSDs for the long term--even when used as a system drive. For example, if you regularly do a fresh install of your OS while keeping your /home directory intact, and you use a distro that has a release cycle of under a year, how many OS installs will you be able to do before bits start to go bad? Never mind the typical package updates throughout the lifespan of a distro; there are usually lots of those.

The fact that these things have to even be considered makes hard drives a more attractive choice in my opinion. Also, if you're a distro hopper you may run into problems sooner. What about swap space... should you put your swap partition on a hard drive, and then suffer the slowdown of using a hard drive anyway (eliminating one of SSD's biggest advantages) as soon you start running out of RAM--all because the SSD cannot be trusted for frequent rewrites?



Do the maths. 3000 p/e cycles per block. So for a 128GB drive with ideal wear levelling, you can write ~3000 * 128GB. If you write 64GB a day (unlikely) you'd get 6000 days worth of writes. That's > 16 years.

My guess is your SSD will outlive your machine, and may well die a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisker_(metallurgy) related death before the FLASH dies.

Reply Parent Score: 2

ggeldenhuys Member since:
2006-11-13

Modern computers and hard drives are so damn fast anyway, I honestly can't imagine an SSD being that big of an improvement over a good quality hard drive, performance-wise.

I've only moved to a SSD drive some 3 months ago. There is a HUGE difference in performance. Applications (no matter how big) load near instant. Any apps that use disk IO are dramatically improved.

Don't believe me, view the many Macbook Pro SSD vs Standard HDD videos. It is really just as you see it in those videos. The nice thing of those Macbook Pro comparisons is that you know the hardware is identical, just the hard drives are different.

I have a 128GB OCZ Vertex 4 SSD. With 460MB/s read and write performance and a constant 0.02ms access time, standard hard drives simply pale in comparison. Obviously I still use large standard hard drives for general data storage, simply because they are cheap.

Reply Parent Score: 2