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What Are SSD-Optimized File Systems?

June 21st, 2011

SSD-Optimized File SystemsPrior to SSDs, or solid state drives, all data was stored on magnetic spinning hard disk drives (HDDs). Many computers still have HDDs, but this is changing due to the better performance of SSDs. For instance, HDDs have moving parts, are more susceptible to breakage, are louder, heavier, and provide irregular performance when it comes to accessing data. SSDs fix all of those problems.

A cheap example of a solid-state drive is a thumb drive used to store a gigabyte or two of data. It is becoming more and more cost-effective to create larger SSDs to hold data due to their increased speed and performance. However, there is one problem: SSDs typically don’t last as long as HDDs unless the file system is optimized to accommodate them. They can’t handle as many write/erase functions as HDDs, meaning they don’t last as long. If an SSD is being used as a hard drive, files may be written and erased hundreds of times per day, making it necessary for operating systems to take certain precautions for solid-state drives.

If a file system is optimized to work with solid-state drives, the SSD can last as long as a hard disk drive of similar caliber. As more and more netbooks and computers are being built with SSD file storage hardware, it is becoming more and more necessary for the operating systems on these machines to have SSD-optimized file systems.

Who Are SSD-Optimized File Systems For?

Anyone whose machine uses a solid-state drive such as people involved with web hosting, streaming video, equities trading or another high-data-volume pursuit should be sure that they have a SSD and that their file system is optimized. While few netbooks, laptops and desktop computers produced for mass consumption have solid-state data drive hardware, there are several notable ones. These include:

* Asus Eee PC
* MacBook Air
* Lenovo Thinkpad
* Toshiba Portege R600
* Intel X-25E Extreme

As you can see, these include both low-end netbooks and high-priced laptops. As SSDs become less expensive to produce, analysts predict that more new computers will use SSD hardware. Many a dedicated server may also use SSD file storage due to the increased need for speed. Readers should check with their computers’ manufacturers to see if their machine uses an SSD file storage system, and should optimize their file systems accordingly. Non-optimized file systems run the risk of burning out the SSD prematurely, making it impossible to write or erase data and necessitating the purchase of new hardware.

Advantages of SSD-Optimized File Systems

* Operating system’s processes are better suited to solid state drives
* Make SSD hardware last longer

Disadvantages of SSD-Optimized File Systems

* May require an upgrade

Examples

The following operating systems represent SSD-optimized options you can take if you want to ensure that your system is its most efficient.

* Windows 7
* Sun Microsystems ZFS
* FreeBSD
* A variety of Linux systems
* Mac OS X 10.7

Conclusion

As stated before, not everyone needs to have SSD file storage. Currently, SSDs are still about ten times as expensive as comparable HDDs, though their performance improvement is arguably enough to offset the cost. As costs go down, more and more systems will be built with SSD hardware.

Given the fact that the big two OS providers, Apple and Microsoft, are switching to SSD-optimized file systems for their flagship products, many people won’t even have to worry about having an SSD-optimized system in the future. However, if you are still using an older operating system but plan to upgrade to newer file storage hardware, you should definitely consider switching to an SSD-optimized file system as well. Solid state may be on the horizon for mass consumption, but it is not yet fully here.

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