SSD Memory Can Prolong the Life of Laptops in the Field

The laptop computer has become integral to video production in the field — ranging from basic television news editing to high-end film production. Equipment failure or loss of a laptop on a location can bring the entire production to its knees, not to mention create nightmares over the security of footage and private information.

The weak point in all laptop computers — regardless of brand — is the hard drive. The longer these spinning discs are used, the higher their risk for catastrophic failure. A few years of use in a laptop slows down hard drives, causing them to acquire more errors and fragmentation. Sooner or later they fail.

The latest model laptops now come with SSD drives, which are far faster, more reliable and can offer internal self-encryption — something hard drives struggle with. The normal corporate lifecycle of laptops is about four years. Traditionally, the companies retire their computers after that time and update all systems at great cost.

SanDisk, a maker of SSD media, recently held a webinar — called “Drive Your Business with Solid State Drive Storage” — that challenged the laptop replacement cycle with a lower-cost way to extend the life of laptops.

“IT departments have to buy many new laptops at the end of the PC refresh period,” said Scott Glen, director of business development at SanDisk. “An alternative to buying new laptops can save IT departments a lot of dollars. If you have a four-year PC refresh period, instead of buying all new units, you can replace the hard drives with SSDs, extend the life of the laptop and save hundreds of dollars per user.”

Replacing a hard drive with an SSD is the most significant upgrade that can be done to a laptop computer. This includes the replacement of a new, faster logic board or additional RAM. A simple swap of the storage media — and nothing else — can create a machine that is dramatically faster, more responsive and far safer to use due to better encryption.

“SSDs have less than a .4 percent annual failure rate over the life of the SSD,” Glen said. “SSDs have over 92 percent improved performance over hard drives. SSD are very, very responsive. You can switch between large data sets and applications without delay. SSDs have the biggest impact on system performance in comparing a similar upgrade for CPUs. The most cost effective upgrade is replacing the hard drive with an SSD.”

Another huge advantage for mobile laptops is self-encrypting SSD drives with built-in AES 256-bit hardware encryption. “This internal encryption protects the data at rest,” Glen said. “It’s an industry standard that’s always on. Encryption keys are always inside the drive. If the laptop is stolen or lost, this offers far better protection against data theft. It’s also very easy to deploy and allows encryption with instant commissioning and de-commissioning.”

Hard drives were never designed for data encryption and must be driven by the CPU of the computer. This causes encryption on a hard drive to degrade performance, since the entire system slows down.

SanDisk has an upgrade program called STAR (SandDisk Tech Assisted Refresh), which offers on-premise overnight upgrades of a fleet of laptops. Sandisk works with the customer’s IT department to log all laptops by serial number, then schedule a drop-off time for the employee to turn in the laptop at the end of the business day.

During the night, all the data is migrated to the SSD drive and the hard drive is replaced. By morning, when the employee comes back to work, their computer is SSD-equipped and has dramatic performance improvements.

The company has a calculator on its STAR website to calculate costs for individual companies. It said savings over replacing laptops can be as much as $553 per user.

SSD drives are a faster, safer option over hard drives in laptops for all kinds of data, including video, audio, photography and other media. 

Scott Glen, SanDisk

Scott Glen, SanDisk

SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD drive

SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD drive

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