Hard drives are dead



That may seem like a bold statement. And it is. However, Apple said the same thing about the floppy in 1997 when they introduced the iMac without it, and it slowly disappeared afterwards. ZDnet said the same thing about optical media (CDs/DVDs) in 2009 when USB flash drives reached critical mass - and of course optical media is slowly disappearing as we speak (the DVD drive in my Alienware laptop died shortly after I got it, but I never called Dell to replace it because I never use it anyways).

So I’m going to say the same thing about hard drives right now. Why? Because I can’t see myself buying another one ever again after using an SSD (Solid State Drive) that I won at the DIG conference several weeks ago.

SSDs store information in NAND flash chips - as a result, the storage and retrieval of information is lightning fast and there are no moving parts that can be damaged if the computer is jolted or dropped. The bad news: they are still extremely expensive for the storage capacity that you get. For example, an Intel 320 Series 80GB SSD will run you $218 at the Futureshop right now, whereas a 7200rpm 2TB hard drive (which is 25 times the capacity!!!) will cost you about $200. This massive cost difference is why I never thought about buying an SSD until now.

However, after installing the SSD into my computer and realizing how ultra fast it was, I can’t go back to hard drives. I booted Fedora 16 with a ton of services enabled in exactly 3 seconds. Windows 7 boots in about the same time, and Microsoft Office opens immediately without even displaying the splash screen. I had no idea how much the speed of my storage device impacted the actual speed of my computer and applications.

So, I think that hard drives will become a thing of the past very soon. Many hard drive manufacturers are making “hybrid” hard drives that use some NAND flash to speed up read/write time for a small increase in price. I think people will buy these drives, enjoy the moderate speed increase, then progress to buy an SSD, and realize that they can’t go back to hard drives. As more people do this, the prices of SSDs will continue to drop, and then hard drives will be a thing of the past. Give it a few years……I think it will come to pass….