One rather under-appreciated fact about solid state drives (SSDs), regarded as the gold standard for fast, reliable storage, is the amount of copying they have to do. When you want to copy some data from one bit to another, it’s not just a matter of shuffling the data from one part of the drive to another. Because of the complicated way a SSD works, over-writing a block of old data with some shiny new data isn’t as simple as just writing the new stuff in with a bigger, thicker Sharpie. Rather, the storage drive has to do some complicated shuffling around. In practice, this can mean that writing a tiny 4KB file can require the drive to read 2MB (that’s thousands of times more data that the 4KB file you’re trying to write), store that temporarily, erase a whole tonne of blocks, then re-write all the data. It’s rather labor-intensive, so think before you juggle your files around next time.

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