Monthly Archives: June 2012

Hard Drives: Solid State Drives Versus Regular Hard Drives

Hard Drive

Image Credit: walknboston

Solid State Drives are coming down in price, making them more affordable for the average computer user. But what is a Solid State Drive,

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how does it differ from a regular Hard Drive, and more importantly, do you need one?

Traditional Hard Drive versus a Solid State Hard Drive

To understand the difference between these two technologies, it is important to understand how each item works. (Note: this is a basic explanation that does not get into all the exact technical details about how each drive is different.)

It’s easiest to think of a traditional Hard Drive as being like a record player – there is a record, or platter, and an arm that moves back and forth over the platter to write data. Inside a hard drive there are several platters stacked on top of each other, and the arm moves to write to them. With a traditional drive, there are a lot of moving parts, and writing and accessing data from different platters takes a little time.

A Solid State Drive has no moving parts. Instead, it operates more like a jump drive or flash memory. Because there are no moving parts or multiple platters to access, a Solid State Drive tends to read and write data more quickly than a traditional hard drive.

Capacity: Currently, Solid State Drives are much smaller than their traditional Hard Drive counter parts. As this technology continues to change and adapt, you should begin seeing larger sized drives at a more affordable price.

Cost: Comparing price vs. size only, traditional Hard Drives are still a better deal than a Solid State Drive. For example, right now you can get a standard 2 Terabyte Hard Drive for approximately $119.00, whereas you’ll spend at least $139.99 for a 128 Gigabyte Solid State Drive. (*Prices are as listed at time of writing, prices tend to change drastically and quickly.)

Reliability: It is hard to say which is more reliable, a traditional Hard Drive or a Solid State Drive. This is because Solid State technology is still so new, and the life expectancy on these drives is considerably shorter than a traditional Hard Drive. (Even though the SSD life is shorter, it should out live any normal computer user’s needs.)

However, because a Solid State Drive has no moving parts, it tends to be more reliable in portable devices, such as laptops, because it can handle being bumped and jostled, whereas a traditional Hard Drive cannot.

Speed: Solid State Drives tend to be significantly faster at reading and writing data compared to a traditional Hard Drive.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line? If you’re mobile with your computer, want extra speed, and don’t mind paying a little more for a smaller drive, you’re probably better off switching to a Solid State Drive. However, if you have a desktop computer or aren’t mobile with your computer, or if you want more space for your dollar, you’re better off sticking with a traditional hard drive, at least for now.

What do you think? Have you recently switched from a traditional Hard Drive to a Solid State Drive? How do you like your SSD drive? Leave us a comment telling us about it.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who wants to help you understand your technology. Email:

Outlook Productivity Tip: Changing How Long It Takes to Mark Emails as Read

Reading Pane Options ScreenDon’t you just hate it when you click on an email by accident and Outlook marks it as read? When this happens, you have two choices – 1) mark it as unread, or 2) do nothing, and hope that you remember you haven’t actually read the email, even though Outlook claims you have.

How often do you choose option two? Probably more often than you realize, when you factor

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in all the times when you felt too busy, and didn’t bother to take the two or three seconds to change the email status.

But you don’t have to settle for one extreme or another. Instead, opt for a better alternative – change how long it takes for Outlook to mark your emails as read, and make this problem a thing of the past.

To access this feature, click on File at the top of Outlook, then go to Options. When the Outlook Options screen opens, click on Mail. Locate the Outlook Panes section in the middle of the screen (under stationery), and click on the Reading Pane button.

The Reading Pane Options will appear. Select “Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane” and allot the appropriate amount of time, in seconds, for Outlook to wait before marking an email as read. The default allotment is 5 seconds.

Tip: See the “Single key reading using space bar” option? Selecting this option allows you to easily page down in your emails, using your space bar only. To make this feature work, make sure this option is selected. Then, click on any email in the preview pane, and begin reading. When you need to page down to read more, simply hit the space bar. Hitting the space bar at the end of the email will allow you to progress to your next email.

Now just click OK twice, and test out your new features. If you find you’ve set your time for too long or too short in duration, simply return to the Reading Pane options, and change the time allotment.

Customizing Outlook with features like these allows you to take the guess work out of your email, and helps you better prioritize your email work flow.

Do you have a great Outlook tip? Leave us a comment and tell us about it.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who wants to help demystify your software. Email: