SSD vs HDD Recoverability

The new solid state drives are currently lauded as better than the traditional hard drives. In plain English, here is what consumers need to know.

For non-technical people, HDD is Hard Disk Drive, and has been used in computers for decades. It has a spinning platter and needle arm much like that of an old record player except all the information is written magnetically. Like any electronic instrument, if you drop this device, it is likely to break, skip data, scratch the platter, or something unsavory of this sort. There is nothing particularly technical about that.

An SSD is Solid State Drive and works much the same way as these new flash or thumb drive keys work. There are no moving parts. Instead, data is stored in tiny electronic switches that remember their position even when there is no power to the device. SSDs are both faster and generally more expensive than traditional HDDs. They may be ideal for certain applications that require higher speeds and robustness from vibration or drops. They are not however good for all applications.

The biggest concern we have with SSDs here at B.A. C.S. is their inability to recover from disk faults. The nature of an SSD’s method of storage makes them much more susceptible to immediate and unrecoverable loss of data and performance issues over time. We have done some research and are including a few quotes from engineers around the world:

[D]espite their performance advantages, SSDs only have a 10% market share compared to HDDs for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, they’re expensive. HDDs today average around 3-4 cents per GB, compared to 25-30 cents for SSDs. Dec 7, 2018 June 2019

… SSDs are quirky little devices that get slower as they fill up. And eventually, the flash cells reach a state where they can no longer complete write operations at all. June 2019

SSDs have a different and bigger problem – SSDs can only write to empty blocks. That’s okay when the SSD is new and all the blocks are empty. But over time, as blocks get filled up, overwriting data becomes an issue, because the only way an SSD can update an existing page is to copy the contents of the entire block into memory, erase the block and then write the contents of the old block in addition to the new data. If there are no empty blocks available, the SSD must scan for blocks marked for deletion, but not yet deleted, erase them, and then write the data to the now-erased page. Over time, as the SSD fills up, writing to the drive becomes more complicated and slower. June 2019

At B.A.C.S. we are of the opinion traditional HDDs are safer for data storage in the long run than SSDs and that safe data is the highest priority. However as with any storage device, we strongly recommend full backup of your data to another device. ANY single storage device can be corrupted and the best way to avoid total data loss is to duplicate the disk to a second or third device designed for long-term storage. B.A. C.S. offers the unique option of completely imaging your disk to another disk so that if you do lose your drive for whatever reason, an exact duplicate of the drive can be recovered to a brand new drive. The new drive will boot and act exactly like the old one: absolutely nothing lost (except whatever you added since last duplicating the drive). This method is also very private as it keeps all data in your possession alone. Cost is merely that of the new drive and the duplication effort (which requires special attention and drive removal in many cases.)

Church Overhead Methodology

Making a smooth worship experience for congregations is an art unique in its own right. The entertainment industry perfects certain aspects, but in a congregation of worship, entertainment is not the goal at all. In fact, the best worship teams seek to fade entirely from the platform as they lead the  people to enter into the high praises of God themselves.

The primary idea behind worship is that the congregation itself is able to make the words and music that are being sung their own expression of praise. For most congregations, this has led leadership into installing overhead projection and a dedicated computer near the sound booth. Unfortunately these devices do not run themselves, and as with any tool, if not used properly, they may distract from worship more than they aid it. Even if an old-style projector is employed, the methodology for employing words on screen must be carefully learned and coordinated with the lead musicians so as not to detract from worship:

  • Are the words in print in the same order as those being sung?
  • Are the slides for repeated phrases easily accessible so that they may be revisited when the music repeats a chorus?
  • Are the words in a font and color than can be read easily?
  • Are the phrases in the song written in a poetic logical order in the same manner that the song is sung?
  • Are there cues in the printed song that aids the congregation in knowing what phrase will come next, or how to sing a particular phrase?
  • Does the person changing the slides know the song well enough to change the slide in a timely manner, preferably, before the last word on the current slide is sung.

When using a particular software for projection purposes, the projection artist (e.g. lead musician or sound man) must create an organization structure for the library of overheads that will be used in any given worship set. Some congregations prefer to be rigid in their songs sets allowing for pre-ordering of the songs to be sung, but in more contemporary services, songs must be easily searchable so that if an impromptu song is selected, the operator can quickly find it in a few measures of the song and display it for the congregation. Even within a given song, it must be written in a way that allows for verses and chorus to be interchanged and quickly displayed in the same rapidness that a lead musician may opt to repeat a particular portion. All these details take some thought, technical experience, and practice to solidify the art of creating a non-distracting worship environment for people.

B.A. Computer Services is trained in this particular art. (903) 243-9588

To Pad or Not to Pad

A plethora of devices on the market make even those of us who have had a smart phone for several years uncertain whether to invest into something different. Here at B.A. Computer Services we endeavor to research everyday technical solutions and provide very practical advice (albeit not purely scientific) about our findings.

Clearly dissatisfaction or breakage of a current device is the impetus for shopping for another device. Modern communication, namely, texting, has not, and likely will never fully trump basic verbal communication–frequently over a phone device of some sort. Thus priority #1–Buy a PHONE. If you end up with a device that has great color, bells, whistles, and dances on the table, that cannot be easily picked up to make or take a phone call, you have been misled. Look first at your primary communication need–choose a device that you can answer easily, hear clearly, and that has a good microphone so the other party can hear you clearly as well.

Smart phones are a hybrid between a computer and a phone, er, camera, er, clock, er, stereo, er…pad. In other words, smart phones have become so ubiquitous and versatile it is unlikely they will fade anytime soon. The trouble is, any one device is still physically limited to time and space, so Dad’s phone just won’t suit being used as Mom’s ebook, Johnnie’s gamebox, and Suzie’s music all at the same time. Not only that, but Dad wants to be able to answer his calls and check stock quotes at the same time–that is a neat trick that technically is possible if you can tolerate hearing voices over a cellular speaker phone along with the dog barking, outdoor road noise, and kids arguing in the other room.

…the most subtle disadvantage to tablets is the difficulty to hold them without accidentally touching a part of the screen…

This, then, is where a search for a secondary device leads toward the possibility of purchasing a pad or an ipad if you are an Apple lover. Before you do, here are some gotchas you might consider. First, any secondary device means one more thing to tote around, charge, and remember to have on hand at the moment you need it. Having two devices can be twice the hassle as having one. Trying to fit a tablet into your back pocket simply doesn’t quite do the trick, and is a sure way to break the screen.

Yet, perhaps the most subtle disadvantage to tablets is the difficulty to hold them without accidentally touching a part of the screen. Holding a 6×8″ pad up to one’s ear is simply quite awkward. The truth about tablets is, they are not convenient as phones. The truth about smart phones is, they are trying to be too much to too many people. The best thing to do with these devices is to primarily designate them for limited use. Park your pad in one place and use it for a specific purpose. (Your electronic tablet I mean:-) Keep your smart phone in its usual pocket and avoid using it for other non-essentials. An old phone can of course be designated for children or an alarm clock, or whatever app you desire to install on it over WiFi. (In the case of a clock, plug it in permanently, prop at just the right angle, and leave it alone.)

The decision to purchase a pad, in lieu of or in addition to your phone, is yours and yours alone. While B.A.’s repairs these devices, we do not currently sell any of them. We are more interested in helping our customers with making smart purchases. Unfortunately, the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” can be misleading in the purchase of phones. Many higher-end devices are more expensive because of branding more than because of improved quality. Truly, any device with glass on its face that is carried around will eventually break. Buy what you really need, and when you need service, we are here to help. We can also install those perfect apps to recommission your old phone into something useful.

You may find these reviews helpful in choosing an electronic device:

See also,

Why Slow Internet Hangs Your Computer

In sequel to Byte Size Matters article, a frequent occurrence of Microsoft computers on slow network connections in rural areas is the partial updates that attempt to download (unsuccessfully), eventually resulting in a frustrating slow or corrupt computer system.

There may be a number of good reasons your computer has deteriorated.  A virus sweep is always warranted, but this isn’t viral-related at all.   The problem has more to do with the behemoth operating system updates Microsoft sends out, and its policy to automatically set updates to auto-download.  While that policy might be effective for a company with computers on a fast Internet connection, on a slow connection, it is a terrible policy.

The scale of fast versus slow is not easily recognized with smaller downloads of say under 100Mb.  A connection that allows “Up to 3Mb per second” may run an average of 1-2 Mbs.  If on a good day it runs 2Mbs, theoretically, a 100Mb file downloads in 50 seconds.   In reality, several seconds are taken to begin the download, and it may temporarily stall, so realistically it is still a reasonable 1-3 minute download.  But lets talk about a bigger chunk of data – a movie for example, or an entire Microsoft operating system update, of a sum of about 1 Gb (over 1000 Mb).  So basically 1-3 minutes turns into 10 to 30 minutes over a slow connection!

YOUR Internet speed isn’t the only factor.    Even if YOUR Internet speed is ultra-high speed, if the website from which you wish to receive data is slow, you will see slow downloads. In the case of Microsoft, it is reasonable to expect sufficient bandwidth from their update servers at non-peak times.  So a difference in Internet speed from 1-3 Mbs to a faster 25 Mbs could be very significant.  If it takes 100 minutes at 1 Mbs, then at 25Mbs it should only take a very reasonable wait of 4 minutes or so.  Thus it is all about scale.  As humans we often encounter situations where a 10-20 minutes waits is acceptable, but much longer sends us walking elsewhere.  In fact, doing Microsoft updates over a slow Internet connection is much like wading through metroplex traffic during rush hour(s).  The chances of vehicle breakdown is extremely high–just as high as the chances your update will not succeed and your computer will choke on the unsuccessful attempts.

Our recommendation:  Let a computer shop do the updates for you. A good shop will have the updates already downloaded, or will have a high speed connection where they can get them many times faster than you can.