Friday, June 8, 2012

SSDs: Solid State Device Data Storage

I enjoy hanging out at ars technica every day to learn new technology and reading tech opinion. This week Lee Hutchinson posted a long but terrific article about how computer memory works with a special focus on SSDs or Solid State Devices. They are the new, fast and expensive way to replace our relatively lame and limping, inexpensive old hard drive technology. The article is six pages long, but well worth reading if you're an inspired and aspiring techno geek.

SSDs use a huge grab bag of techniques to make a computer feel "snappy."
by Lee Hutchinson - June 4 2012, 11:30am EDT

SSD Write Wear

Please note that SSDs do have one major drawback: They wear out due to repeated data writing (called 'write wear') and other factors. Check with the SSD manufacturer regarding the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) or 'write endurance'. You want to buy an SSD with a write endurance of 100,000+ write cycles, as found in SLC (Single-Level Cell) NAND-based flash memory.

IOW, it's time for my favorite nag rant, 
The #1 Rule of Computing:

Make A Backup!

SSDs, unlike hard drives, rarely give any warning before they drop dead. Also unlike hard drives, it is usually impossible to retrieve data from SSDs once they have died. Therefore, if you have no backup, you're toast. You have been warned! You'll thank me later for nagging at you. 

Considering the now dozens of free cloud backup sites on the Internet, including Apple's iCloud, there is zero excuse for not having off-site backups of your critical data.

Encrypt all your data before you back it up to the cloud. I'll discuss why and easy methods of how in future articles over at my Mac-Security blog. For now, I'll simply point out easy to make and use encrypted 'sparse disk' and 'sparse bundle' images. They are available via Apple's free Disk Utility, found in your Mac's Utilities folder. Both 128 and 256 AES encryption are considered impossible to crack as long as you provide them with a long, nasty, randomized password. Just don't lose the password! I have my Macs all set to open a shared sparse disk image at login. I use it to store all my personal data. The sparse disk image resides inside a DropBox folder that is constantly backed up to the Internet. It's a terrific and easy user-side encryption solution for all Mac users. Please check it out HERE and HERE!