If this sluggish economic recovery makes your SMB clients reluctant to replace aging PCs, one option is to update their current systems with solid-state drives.
Upgrading to solid-state drives (SSDs) can boost the performance of both desktops and notebooks, helping older systems perform certain computational tasks more rapidly and boot more quickly. On notebooks and tablets, replacing traditional spindle hard drives with SSDs can also help extend battery life, solution providers say.
"[SSDs] can be fairly expensive, but to that point, if you are going to have to replace a laptop, this can be a big boost in terms of giving a system another year of additional life," said M. J. Shoer, founder and president of Jenaly Technology Group Inc., a solution provider in Portsmouth, N.H.
Upgrading to SSD offers an especially viable workaround for the RAM limitations of older 32-bit systems, said Guy Baroan, founder and president of Baroan Technologies, an MSP in Elmwood Park, N.J. When he experimented on Baroan Technologies’ internal desktop systems, it helped cut the system boot-up time from about four minutes to 24 seconds.
"The increase in performance is ridiculous," Baroan said, adding that SSDs also help with system noise and heat dissipation.
But price is still an issue. Shoer estimated that SSDs can cost around 88 cents per gigabyte, compared to about 19 cents per gigabyte for a traditional hard drive. But that price differential is still far less than what it would cost to buy a new system.
Small businesses can deal with the cost issue by going with a smaller capacity SSD upgrade, said Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East Inc., a solution provider in Manalapan, N.J.
This option is more favorable, because many people discover unused capacity in the massive hard drives that were specified for their last generation systems, Harrison said.
Silicon East began studying SSDs more closely in late 2011, when floods in Thailand disrupted operations at local hard drive component and assembly plants. Since that time, Silicon East has performed SSD upgrades for a growing number of small and medium-sized business clients, and it is considering using SSDs as a standard configuration for new systems.
"We now use this as a matter of course for systems intended for executives or managers who need to multitask," Harrison said. "It keeps things much faster, and for these individuals, time is the most valuable thing."
Free disk cloning software from Acronis simplifies the migration process by converting the hard drives into external devices, solution providers said.
So far, solution providers report that the uptick in SSD sales is mainly confined to desktop and notebook computer upgrades. The limiting factor has been cost, as well as ensuring that drives are properly qualified, Harrison said.
Intel's planned introduction of modular servers that include SSDs could help spur interest in SSDs for servers, he said.
"I would expect this to take off over the next year," he added. "It is already a pretty mainstream discussion among people who really want performance."
About the expert
Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist in the New York City area with more than 20 years’ experience. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune. Clancy was previously editor at Computer Reseller News, a B2B trade publication covering news and trends about the high-tech channel.
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This was first published in July 2012