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SSDs in Non-PCs and Accessories

As SSDs have matured as a storage medium, we've had feedback from a number of people using our 2.5 inch SSDs in non-PC devices or PC accessories. The following information is a list of the more common devices we've had users reporting to us on, as well as some of the expected gains and confirmed pitfalls of these options.

DVRs

Users have reported SSD read and write speed increases seldom affect DVR performance, as regular hard drives are not a bottleneck to recording broadcast television. Write times of a standard hard drive are sufficient for recording any content as it's broadcast. Usually users have changed to an SSD due to less heat generation of an SSD compared to platter drives, citing a lack of airflow in their entertainment centers as the main reason for wanting the additional heat reduction. This hardware modification removes one of the largest heat sources from an enclosed environment. With poor ventilation, however, an SSD may not reduce heat production enough to be an effective fix for potential failures of this nature.

Cameras/Camcorders

Transfer rates of an SSD are largely irrelevant within a camera or camcorder, as the capture rate of devices, even at higher capture resolutions, currently on the market is not bottlenecked by having a traditional hard drive. The main reason people cite for purchasing an SSD is security of data. If the camera is jarred or dropped, a platter drive has a much higher likelihood of becoming damaged to the point of losing its data. Another benefit of SSDs in these types of recording devices is, depending on the interface used for downloading/syncing recordings, pulling data off the SSD is much faster when the drives are hooked to docking stations or other hardware.

Game Consoles

Playstation® 4 and XBox® One consoles can benefit from an SSD. The PS4 features a user-replaceable internal 5400 rpm 2.5" drive running on a SATA 2 controller (SATA 3 for the PS4 Pro). This SSD upgrade will be a noticeable improvement for loading times on installed content. An example of this installation and observed improvements is documented here.

Microsoft® has confirmed that while its system's internal drive is not replaceable, an external drive enclosure in the system's USB 3 ports allows for the same functionality as the internal drive, and depending on the enclosure's performance, you may see most of the SSD's perfomance via the USB connection.

 

Optical Drive Bays

SSDs running in optical bay adapters (to allow the replacement of a CD/DVD drive with an extra hard drive in a device like a notebook) introduce several issues to be aware of. These issues do not occur when running them in a traditional SATA bay, or while running a regular hard drive in a similar optical bay adapter. Many brackets that are used to resize the drive for use in an optical bay feature a secondary controller. This can interfere with Trim reaching the SSD even when all other devices are supporting it normally, and in the context of firmware updates, may present the bay's controller ID rather than that of the SSD, preventing the update from effectively "seeing" the drive. These bay adapters may not support as high a SATA transfer rate as the internal SATA controller, meaning the SSDs performance is lower in the optical bay than it would be in the main bay. In these cases, performance gains may be seen switching the stock hard drive over to the optical bay and the SSD to the internal bay, even if you do not intend to run the OS on the SSD.

USB Docks/Enclosures

For durability, SSDs are popular in USB enclosures when portability and being able to move a drive from system to system are required. Also, SSDs allow high quantities of USB flash storage at lower prices than higher capacity USB flash drives currently on the market. The major downside to using an SSD like this is to remember to power down the SSD fully before disconnecting it. Your enclosure may allow for the unit to be ejected, but this may instead require a full system shutdown before removing the drive. Failure to properly dismount the drive before removal, especially during a data operation, can result in data loss or the controller reacting to this as a faulty power supply and dismounting until a reset is completed (referred to as a power cycle and detailed here). 

Regardless of the device you are using an SSD in, without an OS that supports maintenance features such as Trim, or an extra layer of hardware possibly interfering with it, it becomes critical to be aware of the need to allow garbage collection to perform on the drive. With no OS Trim removing remnants of deleted or downloaded data after you erase it or move it off your device, this leftover data accumulates to a point it can reduce performance and even cause malfunctions during use. Garbage collection and your ability to supply power without any drive operations being called on from your connected device (which is what begins allowing the drive's firmware to run its garbage collection) may not be possible in all devices. The alternative to this may require removing the SSD entirely from a particularly active environment and connecting the drive to a PC power supply or similar environment where the drive has no data interface to risk interruption to its internal maintenance. More information and best practices on this are detailed here.

Additionally, be aware that user-driven firmware updates may be required for either bugfixes or performance optimizations. Without a computer utilizing a direct SATA interface, these updates will be extremely difficult and not something we can provide detailed support for, and a lack of them may lead to a drive malfunctioning. Direct SATA connections are the only supported interfacing for our firmware updates at this time, so have a contingency plan in case a firmware update is needed on your SSD.

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