Solid State Drives in Business Laptops Are a Cost Advantage


Much has been written on the topic of SSDs, or Solid State Drives, in the last year or so. Inexorably, they are increasingly showing up in high-end laptops, as well as on enterprise file servers and SANs. What makes SSDs all the more attractive is the fact that most of the initial teething problems have been ironed out, and explicit support has been built into Microsoft's eagerly anticipated Windows 7 operating system.


Even though it took me a fair amount of trouble to disassemble my Sony laptop to swap in a high-end Samsung SSD recently, I can say from actual experience that upgrading to one was akin to switching to a new laptop. While prices of SSDs have been steadily decreasing, conventional wisdom has so far dictated that the higher priced SSD is not practical from a business perspective.


New research is now saying solid state drives in business laptops are a cost benefit, however. Titled "Solid State Drives in Business Notebooks: Cost Benefit or Cost Burden," the study by J. Gold Associates concluded that SMBs and enterprises buying business-class laptops with SSDs installed will save $214 over 3 years, or $493 if the machine is kept in service for five years.


I contacted Jack E. Gold, founder and principal analyst of J. Gold Associates, and he elaborated on the seeming paradox of how laptops fitted out with the more expensive SSDs will cost less to maintain than a laptop with a standard hard disk drive.


According to Gold, the lower cost is primarily due to lower failure rates compared to traditional hard disk drives. He added, "The actual cost to repair an SSD failure is less than a HDD because of the requirements to recover data from the HDD, which is quite expensive... with SSDs, you are either able to get to the data or not."


As yet, there is no expensive data retrieval procedure available for the retrieval of data from flash memory. This is to say that either the solid state memory works, or it doesn't. Still, this is mitigated by the higher reliability of SSDs -- indeed, the average failure rate of a laptop is reduced by one-third as a result. With secure disposal of SSDs also costing much lesser, the total cost of repairing a failed laptop under warranty with an SSD is just $715 compared to $970 for a similar laptop equipped with a HDD.


Of course, this still leaves us the unspoken understanding that lost data on an SSD is more likely to be irrecoverable. With the cost advantage of SSDs, though, I'm all for the lower failure rates and increased performance.