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What Is Flash Storage and How Is It Different From a Standard Hard Drive?

I have a MacBook Pro from early 2008 that is up to date with OS X lion but still has all the old hardware such as a hard drive with moving parts. I’ve heard a lot about MacBook airs and the rumored new MacBook Pros that have flash memory (storage) with solid state drives. I’ve looked up what this is but have only been more confused. Could someone explain in very simple terms what exactly flash storage is, how it is different than a standard SATA hard drive, and what the advantages and disadvantages are to flash memory over the standard SATA drive.
Thanks very much!

Comments: One Response to “What Is Flash Storage and How Is It Different From a Standard Hard Drive?”

    12 years ago

    Basically: A hard drive is a mechanically spinning piece of material where bits of data are stored. To read or write to a hard drive means the material has to spin and another mechanism has to move up and down along it to set or get bits.
    On the other hand, flash memory doesn't move. It is similar to regular computer memory, with the difference being that flash memory retains the bits when power is shut off.
    If you have used a USB thumb drive, that's flash memory in there. An SSD drive is basically a lot of that same flash memory all stacked together. SSD = Solid State Drive (solid state = no moving parts).
    Hard drives are larger, slower and use more power than flash memory drives. But flash memory is more expensive. You can get a 1TB hard drive for $90 now, where a 256GB flash drive may cost $500.
    But the speed of a flash drive, size and power advantages make it ideal for something like a MacBook Air.

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