What advantages, if any, would I have by upgrading my system(s) to Solid State Drives versus keeping my traditional hard drives? My laptop currently has two hard drives (both 500 GB running at 7200 RPM (I believe)) and my desktop has one 300 GB drive that runs at 10,000 RPM with a second hard drive - 640 GB - running at 7200 RPM. I understand that there is something called TRIM support on some brands, which allows certain SSD's to clear deleted blocks.
First, all storage devices, regardless of the way that they physically store information, use the standard (original) IBM Winchester drive specifications developed by IBM long ago. That is, 512 bytes per sector, 63 sectors per track etc., and using either the NTFS or fat 32 file structure. Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to read or write to them.
Second, Solid-State Drives are faster than standard hard drives simply because it's like reading and writing to RAM which is faster than the electromechanical access to spinning physical magnetic media and the mechanical movements of drive heads. The advantage of SSD's is generally that they have no mechanical parts that can wear out physically. On the other hand, the reliability and the lifespan of SSD's is not significantly longer than standard hard drives, have a different set of standard maintenance procedures, are not subject to file fragmentation, but are no less prone to problems associated with failures to write properly to such devices, which is a Windows issue anyway.
Third, the TRIM support is not so much clearing deleted blocks as it is consolidating used blocks. This support also prevents standard defragmentation software from performing operations on such drives that can damage them over time.
Fourth, whether or not your laptop supports SSD's is something that you need to discuss with your laptop manufacturer. However, in general SSD's are designed like standard hard drives, which generally makes them interchangeable. The difference is in terms of how laptops integrate standard hard drives vs. how desktops do it. You would have to be able to get an SSD that conforms to the hardware interface for your laptop hard drives. All conditions being met, you can certainly convert standard laptop hard drives to SSD's. The basic question is, is there any real advantage in doing so given the cost of SSD's. For example, you may find that SSD for your laptop are anywhere from 3 to 4 times the cost of your standard hard drives. Further, you don't want to cut corners with SSD's. That is, you won't find SSD's in the same size is (storage capacity) as your current hard drives. I believe that the current maximum storage for SSD's is 250 GB. So, essentially you're cutting your storage space in half at 3 to 4 times the cost. Take a look at how much you would have to pay for an SSD that has all of the best and necessary specifications (i.e., size, features, TRIM support, etc.). I think you will find that the cost-benefit is not worth it in the long run.
The technology will improve, and is currently getting better, but the cost is still too high relative to the benefit that the average user will derive from them, particularly with regard to DNS. Yes, your system will boot faster, DNS will load faster, all of the functions required by DNS to write and store, as well as read, information to and from an SSD will perform significantly faster. However, it won't make DNS recognize anything any faster, or reduce the latency (i.e., time from dictation through transcription) because that has nothing whatsoever to do with hard drives. So, if you're thinking about replacing your current drives with SSD's, I would think again because what you gain in terms of benefits, IMHO, is not worth the cost. The real benefit of an SSD in any case would be to have a small boot drive (64 GB) that would be capable of storing all of your user files for DNS, but would be used primarily for Windows and DNS, as well as any other files and folders that must be stored on the C drive. Otherwise, you're not going to see a dramatic improvement in terms of overall DNS functions and performance relative to your current system configuration.
Are SSD's available for laptops or only desktops?
Yes and No. You need to contact your laptop manufacturer as I've already indicated. It really boils down to a form factor issue. That is, whether or not the interface between available SST's and your current hard drive form factor can be matched.
If I had backed up my regular hard drives with Acronis TrueImage Home 2010, can Acronis transfer everything to a SSD, assuming there is enough space on the SSD
Again, the answer here is Yes because all storage devices are predicated on the same set of IBM Winchester drive standards as noted above. SSD's would be of little value if you couldn't. If all storage media didn't use the same set of parameters, then you wouldn't be able to read or write to CD/DVDâ€™s, or any other storage device. One thing that sometimes is difficult to understand is that the storage parameters that are used for all PC storage devices is a standard. That is, it is an arbitrary setting that all physical storage devices use. We could change it tomorrow if we wanted to, but what would be the point. If you're going to read and write to any storage device, it must conform to the standards that are currently in place, and those standards are not likely to change anytime in the future.