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  1. #1
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    New PC - SSD only vs SSD + HDD?

    Hi Guys,

    It's about time for a new PC, and I'm trying to get my head around the options.

    My current setup uses 3.5” hard drives in removable racks. I have found that this suits me because I can:
    - Clone one drive to another for backups.
    - Swap racks to test different operating systems and/or Office suites.
    In the past I have used the drives partitioned as one big C:\ partition. Currently I use them with two partitions, C:\ for the OS and programs and D:\ for data. Both ways have worked for me, and both have their pros and cons.

    For the new PC, I was thinking of using SSDs in removable racks, and just accepting that storage will be limited by the size of the SSD. However, some systems are set up with the SSD as cache memory and a conventional HDD for its data capacity.
    If I go the second way, how would it go together? Would it be the SSD in the removable rack and the HDD fixed in the case, or vice versa?
    How would backups and cloning be managed?
    Does using a SSD and a HDD mean that there are now two devices that can fail?


    (To those in the know, these might seem like dumb questions, but I figure if I ask a dumb question I look dumb for five minutes; if I fail to ask, I remain dumb forever.)

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  3. #2
    Platinum Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Thanked 231 Times in 219 Posts
    There is a good discussion here:!!!-Help-!!

    Yes, having 2 hard disks means both can fail, but if you lose one you have less work restoring everything and you can recover to a new computer if it's a motherboard fault that takes out a hard disk.

    If you want to swap disks out for testing you could have all disks in removable racks.

    cheers, Paul
    Last edited by Paul T; 2013-11-04 at 05:29. Reason: fixed URL

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Thanked 1,153 Times in 1,062 Posts
    I think the decision on going SSD only or SSD + HDD really depends on your storage needs and available budget. So let me explore some scenarios.

    1. SSD for cache, HDD for everything else

    This seems to be the most economical scenario for SSD usage, since it combines a low storage capacity SSD (thus rather low cost), with an HDD. While it is the most economical, I don't think it is that advantageous, as the cache SSD is really not that much cheaper than, say, a 128 GB SSD, which could mean scenario 2 would be feasible.

    2. SSD for OS + HDD for data

    This requires a bigger SSD. For some people this can be as small as 32 GB (which would mean my "requires a bigger SSD wouldn't apply), but it would probably be safer to have, at least, a 64 GB SSD. Requires the extra effort of configuring Windows to separate the places where you store apps and documents and such, which may difficult in place upgrades to new OS versions. In my opinion, this is an option to take if budget is still a consideration, although less than in the 1st scenario. It also depends on your needs, since a 128 GB SSD is not that expensive, so if 128 GB could be enough, you might find yourself in scenario 3.

    3. Full SSD (with our without an extra HDD for less relevant data).

    Personally, this is my favorite option. Depending on your needs, it may require at least a 128 GB SSD or a 256 GB SSD (actually a 240 GB, if we consider the fact that manufacturers use the decimal system to specify capacities). This means you can benefit from the SSD without the need to configure the OS to use two disks, other than using something like libraries to store (additional) documents or music, videos, etc.

    I have been using SSDs on my laptops for more than a year now. They have won me over. For my personal and professional use, I won't ever consider a laptop without an SSD. My desktop runs an HDD, still, and if it were not for the price, I would have gone full SSD, which would mean a 512 GB SSD, which is still rather expensive, for my budget, at least. It probably would make sense to add an HDD, because some of the data wouldn't really need to be on the SSD.

    Two disks mean a bit more effort on the maintenance side. SSDs are reliable, but they can go out without any sign that things are wrong. Regular backups are even more important, though, if that can be said, since backups are always important.

    This represents my personal opinion. Different people will most likely not share this view.

  5. #4
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Thanks for the replies so far. The pros and cons of the different options are beginning to make sense.

  6. #5
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    California & Arizona
    Thanked 495 Times in 455 Posts
    Keep it simple and based around your core needs. Avoid adding unnecessary complexity.
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

  7. #6
    3 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Thanked 26 Times in 26 Posts
    Right now prices on 120GB (around $80) to 256GB (around $160) SSDs are most favorable compared to larger or smaller capacity SSDs. HDDs are cheap for 1TB ($60-$80) and 2TB ($90-$100). If you want to swap a lot of drives in and out without spending a fortune i would suggest going with some 120Gb SSDs plus some 1TB HDDs. At home we used the settings in Windows to tell it our Libraries ( Documents, Downloads, Music and Videos folders) are all located on a separate drive (HDD), while Windows plus all programs are installed on our SSDs. As long as you maintain the same drive letters when swapping drives this is a very convenient setup. If you want instructions on setting that up let us know. My GF also has her Windows setup so that every document and photo she saves is uploaded automatically to Dropbox (but all data still resides locally on a HDD).
    You can get most of the performance of an SSD if you go with an SSD "cache-drive". The neatest one i've seen is the Sandisk Ready-Cache 32GB for around $50 maybe less. All you do is install it and boot up. No configuration, no messing around. It quickly learns what programs/apps/games you're using and copies the files needed for those onto the SSD. In other words, you install Windows plus everything onto a HDD as you have done in the past. The only new wrinkle is that Windows will boot up much faster and all your favorite stuff - even the web browser - will open faster. Sandisk's built-in software got it right, just plug it in and go. This is way better than a Hybrid drive from Seagate (called SSHD) because the Seagate ones only have an 8GB SSD chip. We have a Seagate SSHD in our laptop and it's definitely better than a regular HDD, but it no way does it keep up with a Ready-cache setup. i'm sure you realize the benefits here of one modest-price SSD-cache, thus leaving more in your budget for some good 7200rpm HDDs. And, you can always add larger SSDs later as prices continue to fall.Anyway, it merits thinking about!

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