Getting irritated while waiting for your laptop to boot?
As per a recent survey done by SpiceWorks, close to 90% of IT professionals across industries use either desktops or laptops at their workplace. This is of course not surprising, and so is the fact that the top two factors driving computer purchase decisions are reliability and performance.
Having been a hard-core computer user (desktop at home, and laptop at office) for more than 15 years now, I have had my share of problems on working with computers all along. Most of the times, waiting for booting to complete, software applications to launch, data to copy between devices, or to install updates – there have been frequent painful experiences. These have been harrowing at times, especially those when my computer turned cold or conked out – like during software installations, critical video calls, reading important emails, etc. I usually did what most people do – reboot and pray that it restarts in time.
Impact of down-time
Most people working on standard desktops or laptops reboot 3 times a day on an average, and have wait times of up to 15 minutes while the system boots and stabilizes thereafter. Apart from this, there would be the recurring slow-down in device performance, either due to system updates in the background or while working on multiple applications simultaneously – causing delays of up to 30 minutes daily. Taking a daily work duration of 8 hours per employee, this is 10% reduced productivity in core work as most people will not do much else while they wait for their computers to respond. I am not getting into the commercial details, but improving 10% of productivity makes for a big business case in organizations of any size nowadays. This low-response time, depending on when and where it occurs, has many emotional downsides as well – frustration, helplessness, feeling of failure, nervousness, anger – creating a demoralizing environment for people.
Root cause for slow performance
I will not delve too deeply into the analysis, but the slow performance is primarily due to slower rate of data transfer between components of the computer. Majority of the computers in the market today have Hard Disk Drives (HDD) for storage of data. Because HDD is a mechanical device, unlike many of the other memory-related components in the computer, the rate of data transfer is much slower between HDD and other components. And to add to the complexity, HDD works faster if data transfer is sequential, i.e. one application is processed after another. If multiple applications are processed, the data gets split across different fragments in the HDD and therefore the reading time increases.
Solution to increase performance
If we replace the HDD with a Solid State Drive (SSD), which is a more advanced storage device in this category, the rate of data transfer increases significantly and therefore the performance. As the name suggests, SSD is a solid-state electronic device that stores and retrieves digital information using integrated circuits as memory, without any involvement of moving mechanical parts. SSD have a few other advantages over HDD such as in data reliability, energy savings, etc., I will not go into those details in this blog – please refer infographic.
Benefits of investing in SSDs
Cost was the biggest prohibitor for using SSDs till now, as the per GB costs of SSDs was in the range of 10x than HDD. Only high-end laptops like Pro versions of Macbooks, Surface, etc. have SSDs as standard components, but such investments are not feasible at an enterprise level. SSDs up to 500 GB are now available at roughly 100 USD more (but still 4x) than the cost of HDDs. Since laptops have a life of about 3 years with maintenance, and many companies buy laptops in the 1500 USD price range, this added capital investment has 100x returns in terms of overall productivity. IT and procurement can always negotiate with computer vendors to reduce the difference especially for bulk purchases.
Pace of transformation
Any initiative to motivate an entire enterprise into using technological advances is nothing less than a transformation programme, and needs a top-driven approach with implementation ownership at all sponsorship levels.
As per the latest forecast from Statista, it will take another 3 years for SSD sales to beat HDD, but why wait till then? Though the component costs will be excessive when compared with HDD , the overall benefits from productivity and reliability will be a sure motivation factor for investing in SSDs. All computers nearing replacement date should upgrade, but it is worth trying to negotiate with the vendors an upgrade for all employees to achieve greatest productivity benefits.
Independent home and professional computer users who cannot invest in high-end devices should definitely upgrade accordingly. I have upgraded my system and reaping the benefits already. Not to ignore what matters most – peace of mind.