Cycling Around the World


Solid State Drive (SSD) vs Hard Disk Drive (HDD) for Travel

Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on May 3, 2017 at 5:25 AM

Solid State Drive (SSD) vs Hard Disk Drive (HDD) for Travel

Thinking about what sort of laptop to take on my around the world cycle, and at first it was quite confusing. Should it be Mac or Windows, larger than 13” or smaller, SSD or HDD, how long does the battery last, how fast to boot up, is it vibration resistant or shockproof, and how fast does it have to be to cope with 4k video editing, how much should I pay. Oh man, the list went on and on.

First it became obvious that it should be as small and as light as possible, without it being too hard to use, given I have hands like shovels. So I have created here a list of all the things I feel would be ideal for travelling light.

The size should be under 14”

This is because it has to fit in my panniers and be as light as possible. I don’t want some huge clunky thing weighing me down and forcing me to cycle around in circles. After all, I will be literally dragging this thing around with me everywhere I go, for years. I also don’t want it to be too small so that I struggle to find the keys or see the screen, as I don’t want my photography and videography to suffer. So somewhere between 11” and 14” will be just right.

(Actual size I ended up with is a 15 inch screen. Much bigger than I wanted, well, 2 inches bigger, which is still quite a big bigger as it also makes the whole unit deeper and not just wider. The thickness of this Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is very thin though, and the whole thing is really light, and at over £500 cheaper than the 13 inch Dell I was looking at, is a huge saving which will allow me to purchase an external SSD or 2)


I’m not a fan of Apple, but maybe that’s sort of unfair, because I have never had an Apple Computer. I have an iphone 5s, and hate it. I only bought it because both my daughters have iphones and we can Facetime each other. Sure, I use it as a phone and it’s great for that, but for anything else it’s a pain. To me anyway, as I really miss the ability to be able to just drag and drop music and other files into my old Samsung Galaxy, or insert a memory card loaded with music or video.

But back to the laptop, and what I’m saying is that my experience with Apple and the iphone, has put me right off wanting to work with an Apple laptop in case I encounter the same problems and restrictions, so a windows based system it is.

(Windows 10 is what I got with the Dell, and I'm getting used to it much quicker than I thought I would. I'm just so glad it is nothing like windows 8, and a bit more like windows 7.)

Hard Disk Drive or Solid State Drive

Now this is a really important are for me. My new laptop will be upside down, on its side, going over bumps and gravel roads. It will need to be super thin and light, and boot up really quickly. It will need to be able to handle 4k video and imaging really quickly too, and this is why I am going for the SSD rather than HDD. HDD has spinning disks that won’t handle being jolted about as well as SSD. It stands to reason that SSD will be far better being manhandled than HDD.

I am going for a laptop with no moving parts. This has to be the way to go, although and SSD drive laptop will up the price quite a bit if I want at least 512gb. Now, I have no idea how data is recovered if the SSD drive goes down. When I have had problems with my HDD drives not working, I have taken them to the shop and have usually managed to rescue the data.

The price difference is quite huge. I wondered why at first, considering flash drives and SD Cards are so cheap, but on further investigation, it appears the flash memory used in SSD’s is much different to that of flash and SD Cards, and is said to be much faster and more reliable, and so more expensive.

Speed is important, not just for editing, but for making use of every available second of battery life. Given that it maybe some time between charges while travelling, a super fast boot up, fast file transfers, program opening and use. HDD scatters files all over the place, and regular defragmenting is required, but no such thing with SSD.

Other than wanting as much ram as possible and good connectivity, I think I have covered my reasons for feeling that a small, windows based, SSD laptop will be my ideal choice for this kind of travel.

(My new Dell has 256mb SSD, which is fine, as I will be forced to transfer photos and video to an external SSD instead of just leaving on the computer, slowing it down. Speaking of speed, I am so impressed with tthe speed of which this thing works with the help of the SSD. It flies. Just a few seconds from turning it on to everything ready. Opening programs like Word and Excel is almost instant. I'm looking forward to editing on it. It has 8 hours battery life too, which might not sound massive, but you have to remember there is no lag, it is so fast so no waiting around. I can get work done quicker and shut it down. The i7, 16gb ram, and dedicated graphics card make a whole world of difference too.)

Backlit Keyboard

Got to be able to see those keys in the dark. As it happens, I can touch type pretty well, but when adding a few numbers and symbols, being in the dark is will be quite hard, so backlit keyboard it is.

(Yes, I got the backlit keyboard.)

OK, so I didn't get the 13 inch model, but I'm really happy with this 15 inch model, up to now. I will let you know how I get on :)

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series


Alloy Shell

7th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-7500U Processor (4M Cache, up to 3.5 GHz)

Windows 10 Home 64-bit 

16GB Single Channel DDR4 2400MHz

NVIDIA® GeForce® 940MX with 2GB GDDR5 Graphics Card

15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Truelife LED-Backlit Display

1 HDMITM 1.4a - 1 USB 3.0 - 1 USB 3.0 with PowerShare - 1 USB 2.0 - 1 Noble lock slot - Media Card Reader 1 SD card (SD, SDHC, SDXC)


Categories: Camera and Video Equipment

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