Travel gear tip: Get a solid state hard drive

January 18, 2013

About a year ago my PC started acting crazy. After taking it to IT, they said that I needed a new motherboard and hard drive. Oh and by the way computers belonging to people who travel wear out faster than those who don’t, due in large part to the damage to the moving parts of the hard drive.

At this point, even though I have worked in the computer industry before, I kind of felt like my eyes were going to roll back into my head. Whaaaaa? Moving parts what? And I care why? Oh right. Because my computer is broken.

A little background: a traditional computer hard drive contains spinning disks and read/write heads. A solid state hard drive does not. The moving parts are more susceptible to physical shock, so when your computer is jostled around a lot, i.e. in and out of your briefcase, carried around at the airport, etc, the chances of it breaking or having issues are higher. (Thank you Wikipedia!)

When it was time for me to get a new system earlier this year, IT highly recommended I get a solid state hard drive since I travel so much. They have been on Macs for years, and are now available on certain PCs. So hopefully my new system will last longer than the old one!

Readers, have you had any experience with computer issues due to travel?

(I just want to reiterate that I am NOT a technical person, so if I’ve gotten terminology or anything else wrong, please be gentle!)

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  1. Grant said,

    Just buy an SSD and install it yourself, ask anyone under 25 for help.
    .
    Of course you will need to reinstall the operating system and programs along with copying your files to the new SSD drive.

  2. EagerTraveler said,

    I once left my laptop bag in the trunk of a car in a customer’s parking lot and it was so hot the drive fried.

  3. sea1 said,

    You will love how fast it boots with an SSD.

  4. Bjoern said,

    I can only agree. I have a nice HP EliteBook now which has an aluminium body and an SSD. The metal body has held up very well with all my flights (>350 flights in 24 months). At TSA I have had my LT fall off the belt several times because I always ask for opt-out and when the belt is full after the x-ray, sometimes the boxes flip up and the parts inside fall out.
    In the past my Laptops used to last about 12 months but now it is much longer.

    I also lost two phones to TSA agents that “thought” the box was empty after me picking up my stuff but when they flung the box around, my phone started flying. It was obviously my own mistake… (btw, does anybody know if there are rules for that situation where TSA breaks your stuff?)

  5. DaninSTL said,

    Yeah SSD is the way to go. A few years from now old hard drives that spin will be like cassette tapes and floppy disks.

  6. Jason T said,

    Just make sure you have a solid backup strategy. I would still assume that at some point a SSD is going to fail too. We can control how long it takes to recover from a failure to some extent, but we can’t control when the failure is going to happen (unless we are trying to cause the failure).

  7. sally madden said,

    Absolutely agree. An SSD is so much more resilient and way faster too. Makes all the difference.

  8. Ana said,

    Yes, you are totally right. I have lost three computers to travel. Well, I am in the process of losing my third one. Hard drive already failed but I replaced it. Now other things including the new hard drive are failing lol.

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