HDD versus SSD on Ubuntu

hdd-vs-ssdIf you’re wondering if you should upgrade to a solid state drive for use with Ubuntu Linux, I’ve tried to give some comparison in this article.  I use a Lenovo T60 computer with the Ubuntu OS on it.  It may not be the most powerful computer on the market, but in my opinion, the build quality is second to none.*  Running a lightweight OS like Ubuntu, it fits my needs pretty well.

One weakness of this PC was the that hard drive failed pretty catastrophically over a year ago, leading me to really explore Ubuntu.  A year later, and I decided to preemptively swap my hard drive to a solid state drive.  For your reference, here’s a performance chart for startup of some different programs using the new solid state drive versus the stock hard drive:

Comparison HDD vs SDD Load Performance in Ubuntu Linux

  • Startup: HDD – 45 seconds, SSD 15 seconds
  • Draftsight: HDD – 8 seconds, SSD 3 seconds
  • Hedgewars: HDD – 8 seconds, SSD 3 seconds
  • Openshot Video Editor – 7 seconds, SSD 2 seconds
  • LibreOffice Writer – HDD 9 seconds, SSD 2 seconds
  • Firefox – HDD 7 seonds, SSD 2 aeconds
  • Shutdown – HDD 12 seconds, SSD 4 seconds

So a SSD cuts OS and program startup time by around 2/3rds!!  Seriously, I only have to wait for things to load 1/3 as long…  And things seemed to have improved when I put Ubuntu on my computer anyway!

pre-ssd-conversionSSD Battery Life

Besides a load time improvement, I expected the battery life to be much better.  Unfortunately I didn’t track this as well as the load times, but it doesn’t seem better.  I’m not sure it’s any worse, but the power management icon seemed to “jump around” a lot to begin with.

Other SSD Benefits

It’s incredible how noisy a hard drive seems when you no longer have one.  The solid state drive is, naturally, silent.  I’ve also noticed a vast improvement in photo processing when using Phatch to modify a bunch of photos.  It would seem that anything involving heavy amounts of data would benefit similarly.

SSDs have no moving parts, purportedly making them a bit more shock-resistant, so that’s a benefit.

SSD Drawbacks

insert-new-ssd T60 LenovoThe higher cost per gigabyte is the obvious factor here.  I bought a 180 GB Intel Drive, which aren’t the cheapest, but it worked out to a little less than $1 per Gig.  I’m still using less than 20% of the drive, so this isn’t really an issue with me.  For some it might be.  Also, I’ve read that there is a finite number of write cycles on a SSD.  I doubt this would be a concern for most, but maybe worth some research

Conclusion

I really like my new solid state drive, an Intel 180 GB model and would recommend it to others.  I backed up everything using Dropbox, then did a fresh install of Ubuntu.  It was intimidating popping it out, but at least with Ubuntu and Dropbox cloud, it was incredibly simple to get everything running again (even though I don’t think I ordered the correct transfer cables).

Here’s a link to the product that I bought on Tigerdirect (although it’s sold out Online as of this writing), and the new version of this drive from Amazon – in stock and eligible for Prime if you use that.  Keep in mind that I apparently got the wrong transfer cables, so be sure to check that out.


*For PCs at least.  Feel free to argue in the comments.

Check out my other Linux articles here.

  1. SSDs have definitely crossed the cost threshold to be the storage tech of choice for most computers. As you illustrated the performance benefits are almost absurd over a spinning HDD.
    I still can’t quite get rid of the HDD for my development machine though since I heavily use virtual machines and they use a lot of space. I guess the 512GB SSDs are getting there…
    When will we see a 1TB SSDs??

    • It’s incredible to me that they’re not more popular considering the performance jump. A quick search revealed a 1TB drive for the incredible price of… $1575! Still too much for me, but 180 GB seemed like a good deal!

      I guess people still want to store lots of movies/games/etc…

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