It may be time to upgrade your computer with a solid-state disk drive, Part 1 – The Spectrum

Is your computer slow? Is it sluggish? Is it taking a long time to load the operating system or application programs? Well, it may be time to upgrade to a solid-state disk drive (SSD).  Most older computers are using the older spinning disk drive technology (HDD), and those drives are very slow compared to the new SSD technology.  Upgrading those old computers to SSD has brought new life and speed to computers.
A few years ago it was easy to replace that old HDD with a new 500Gb or 1Tb SSD at a very reasonable price, with good, quality 500Gb SSD drives under $100. Now, you can get faster speeds and larger storage for even less.
Those great SSDs have become better. They are faster, have larger capacity, and come in many different types (Sata, m2 SATA, NVMe, and PCIe). While the SATA SSD was designed to replace the HDD, newer computers now have other types of disk interfaces that faster SSDs can use. 
Unfortunately, the addition of the newer SSD interfaces has made it more difficult to upgrade a computer to take advantage of the optimal SSD enhancement.  But, regardless of which SSD you choose, the speed enhancement will be felt on any of the choices.
Before rushing to your favorite outlet to buy that SSD, there are some items you might want to know about before making that purchase.
For computers older than about three years, the selection may be very simple.  Most of these older computers do not have the newer hardware interfaces, and the only choice you have to make is for the SATA replacement (2.5 inch form factor) and how large a drive you want (250Gb, 500Gb, 1Tb, 2Tb, 4Tb).
Older computers have two types of SATA interfaces to attach the SSD drive, 300Gb and 600Gb. SATA SSD’s operate in the 530-560Gbs, thus if you have the real old 300Gb interface, optimal performance of the SSD will be slightly degraded due to the speed of the interface hardware.  Most older computers have the 600Gb interface, so the SSD will operate at the rated speed.
The basic thing to understand is that SATA (Serial Advanced Technology attachment) and NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) are standards or interface protocols. In simple words, they differ in the way storage connects to the motherboard. We already know that SSDs have advantages over the traditional mechanical hard drive, but using an NVMe SSD over SATA SSD can take it to the next level.
Sata SSD: The rectangular-looking SATA port is not new. We have seen the interface since the CD-ROM came into the picture, though it has improved with time. The latest SATA interface offers a transfer speed of 6 Gbit/s. This is twice as fast as the previous standard. This, combined with SSD, is excellent to improve Windows performance on old computers, especially if they were using a mechanical hard drive.
NVMe SSD: If you can connect a storage device like the RAM or the memory module, data transfer speed can skyrocket. That is what happened with the NVMe interface. It stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express and connects to the PCI Express or PCIe to transfer data to and from SSD.  So, it is the same SSD but with a faster interface, and it offers up to 5x faster performance than traditional SATA SSDs. Because of the PCIe, the latency is reduced.
NVMe SSDs are the fastest SSDs you can buy today, offering up to 5x to 7x faster performance than traditional SATA SSDs. They are also much more expensive, which is why most people should stick with SATA SSDs. NVMe SSDs can be used in the same way as SATA SSDs, but if you want to use NVMe, you will have to make sure your CPU and motherboard supports that form of storage.
How can you tell if you have SATA or NVMe-based SSD?
Now that we know about the two communication standards/protocols, SATA and NVMe, next week I will continue discussing physical hardware interfaces and adapters, and the different types of NVMe SSDs.   
Stay protected!
George Cox is the owner of Computer Diagnostics and Repair.  He can be reached at 346-4217

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