Solid State Drive, or SSD, storage technology has passed the point of being a new technology novelty and entered the mainstream. Now many companies are producing their own drives and vying for your business. SanDisk has been a leader in flash-based storage for many years with USB drives and media storage cards. Now, SanDisk has an impressive selection of Solid Sate Drives available for consumer and enterprise level storage. The consumer level line includes the SanDisk Ultra Plus SSD that SanDisk was kind enough to provide for review. I have to say, I am truly impressed by the results.
For our readers that may be unfamiliar with the advantages of SSD technology over traditional spinning disks, I’ll summarize the benefits. Spinning disks, the traditional hard drive technology, consist of a set of disk platters spinning at several thousand revolutions per second. The data on a platter is accessed by read/write heads that move in and out along the radius of the platter. When a piece of data needs to be accessed, there is a process of seeking to the location of the data on the drive. The advantages of an SSD is in the removal of the spinning disk all together. When a piece of data needs to be accessed, the drive simply does a memory look-up and accesses the data. There is no seek period to rotate the disk into position or move the read/write heads. You are also not loosing power to keeping the disks spinning, an important factor in laptop systems.
I tested the SanDisk Ultra Plus SSD on a low-end Asus laptop I bought as a deal last year. I configured the laptop as a dual-boot system with Windows 7 and Ubuntu. The built-in drive was a 5400 RPM disk and the system, as a whole, was functional but slow. The SanDisk drive has changed the pace of the whole system. Prior to the SanDisk SSD, Ubuntu would take a little over a minute to boot and the Windows 7 partition took over two minutes. With the SanDisk SSD installed, boot time for both partitions is now under 30 seconds. Similar speed improvements are clear throughout my system. Additionally, the lower power consumption needs are obvious in a much improved battery life. Installation was quick and easy. After some research on upgrading to an SSD, I would note that for maximum improvement, I would perform a fresh install of your operating system, or systems, as the data organization between the technologies is different.
The SanDisk Ultra Plus costs about $180 on Amazon and, to me, is completely worth the expense over a traditional spinning disk for breathing new life into a slower systems.