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Microsoft Pushing Manufacturers to Drop HDDs as Boot Devices

July 11, 2022

Microsoft is pushing original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to prioritize solid state drives (SSDs) as boot devices, according to an executive brief published by data storage analyst TrendFocus.

Microsoft’s flagship OS, Windows 11, does not specifically require a solid-state drive as part of its operating requirements. However, Trendfocus reports that the software giant has ordered its OEMs to ditch hard drives in favor of SSDs, which would help to establish more consistent performance across different hardware running Windows 11. 

In statements to Tom’s Hardware, Trendfocus Vice President John Chen noted that the new requirement could create budgetary issues from an OEM standpoint. A 512GB SSD retails for about $30-65 USD, while a 512GB hard drive retails for under $20. 

Switching to bootable SSDs will increase the average cost of computers — particularly desktops, since SSDs have become a de facto standard for laptops within most price ranges. 

But the performance improvements would be considerable, potentially improving Windows’ market share in consumer markets. 

Solid-state drives are faster than HDDs, but not necessarily safer.

One common misconception is that SSDs provide better resistance to data loss than hard disk drives (HDDs). This is only partially true: While SSDs are less susceptible to damage due to physical shock (for instance, dropping a laptop on the ground), they’re generally more susceptible to file corruption and certain electronic issues.

Like hard drives, SSDs also have a limited lifespan: Flash media has a limited number of write cycles, and when SSDs are in common use, they don’t tend to last as long. On average, SSDs in constant use — as is the case with boot media — last about 6-7 years, which is roughly equivalent to hard drive operating lifespans.

Put simply, we don’t believe that Microsoft is switching to SSDs to improve the data integrity of its flagship OS. The move is purely for enhanced performance. 

Whether your computer uses a hard drive or SSD, regular backup is essential.

In terms of speed, SSDs are a clear improvement over HDDs. However, many consumers have a limited understanding of the limitations of flash-based media — and some may erroneously assume that SSDs improve reliability. All storage media is susceptible to data loss. 

And since most consumers still use their boot media for data storage, regular data backup remains a crucial priority. Microsoft has addressed this — to some degree — by offering OneDrive, software that automatically backs up important files to Microsoft’s proprietary cloud. Unfortunately, OneDrive has limited storage capacity (unless consumers choose to pay for more storage).

Make sure that your backup strategy follows these guidelines:

  • You maintain at least two copies of important files. We recommend keeping three copies — one on your computer, one on the cloud, and one on a separate physical storage device (such as an external hard drive or SSD).
  • You back up data on a regular schedule. That might mean monthly, weekly, or daily backups, depending on the data in question. 
  • You check your backups regularly. Occasionally, you should test your backups by loading files and ensuring that they’re up-to-date and usable. 

If you’ve lost data due to a hard drive failure, RAID failure, SSD failure, or for any other reason, is ready to help. Our no data, no charge guarantee ensures that you’ll only pay if we recover your files — and through regular investments in data recovery technology, we’re able to provide fast turnaround times, affordable pricing, and industry-leading success rates.

Contact us at 1-800-237-4200 or schedule a free media evaluation online