Another questionable SSD bargain

There’s a deal floating around on 90 GB OCZ Agility 3 drives for $80. But I’m not inclined to bite, for two reasons.
The first reason is that the price is an after-rebate price. OCZ isn’t fast about processing rebates. I can’t speak for their reliability.

But the second reason is that these drives, like many current OCZ drives, are prone to freezes and blue screens (BSODs). The BSOD problem is due to these drives dropping off the SATA bus momentarily, and Windows doesn’t like losing its system drive. In fact, I don’t know of any operating system other than Amiga OS–the real Amiga OS, not the imposter released last week–that knows how to deal with losing its system drive.

I don’t know what’s causing current-generation drives to have this issue. My 2009-vintage original OCZ Vertex drives never had the problem. And some current-generation drives are more prone to it than others. Early revisions of the Samsung 830 had the issue very rarely. They fixed the firmware, and the firmware update caused more problems for people than the bug the firmware fixed. Rumor has it the BSOD issue was one of the reasons Intel waited so long to release a Sandforce-based drive. But while Sandforce controllers are more prone to the issue, they aren’t the only ones.

Back in February when it seemed like I spent almost as much time at Micro Center as I spend at home or at work, the technicians there said they see more OCZ drives getting returned than any other.

One of these drives–or any other low-end/midrange SSD that happens to be on sale at any given moment–might make sense to slap into a $5 USB enclosure to use for system builds and maintenance. A 64 GB USB 2.0 flash drive costs $90 and this would give you more storage in addition to being faster. It’s not likely to fall off the bus in the middle of a system build, given that system builds off flash memory go so quickly. Windows installs in around 10 minutes, and most applications take a lot less than that. And if the drive were to fall off in the middle of an install, particularly an application install, it’s more likely to recover gracefully.

I know hardware enthusiast sites use SSD-in-USB-adapter setups like this in their test labs to build systems quickly. Given that every job–if you believe job descriptions on web sites–is a fast-paced, dynamic environment, the solution would be helpful in the workplace too. Being able to build a complete system in around 30 minutes would benefit fast-paced, dynamic environments, right? Unless they’re just using buzzwords, but I’ve never seen anyone say they wish their IT staff built computers more slowly.

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