Fly in the ointment
Of course, for desktop users with spare drive bays, this storage shuffling isn't so much of a problem. At this stage, though, grabbing an SSD as a desktop boot drive is a no-brainer – and a 64GB unit will suffice.
Apple's new MacBook Air has a distinct lack of customer installable parts
There's just one fly in the ointment – the age of the upgradeable computer is vanishing. Desktops are becoming superseded by laptops, and laptops are becoming increasingly hard to service. The options, and documentation, is disappearing.
Ten years ago Compaq, Toshiba and IBM released service manuals as a matter of course – allowing you to do a full tear down. Lenovo still does, bless 'em, with its ThinkPads. At the other extreme, with Apple's latest Air laptops, for example, there are no upgradeable parts – battery, memory, and HD are locked down – and require, at the very least, an exotic set of screwdrivers. This trend is moving into the professional range. And the demand for thin and light means little other than the memory is upgradeable, if at all.
As for reliability concerns, these are answered in the old-fashioned way: make lots of backup copies. Kingston says a typical MLC unit has a write/erase cycle endurance of approximately 10,000 per cell, compared to 100,000 cycles per SLC cell, which means SSDs use a number of different techniques to spread the wear across the drive.
A heavy user writes about 5GB a day to disk, and if they use autosave and hibernation features, perhaps up to 9GB. The Kingston drives I'm using are rated up to 20GB per business day for three years. If you're a heavy user, then, a six year lifespan isn't too unreasonable given the hammering it's getting. Give a conventional drive six years of punishing use, and you should be looking at a new one anyway.
So I haven't stopped worrying entirely ... but given the performance improvement, the cost, and the new lease of life on my old machines, it's a trade-off I'm delighted with.
And I back up, constantly. As should you. ®
You've miss-understood your roll
You, or I, as a consumer exist purely to put money into the pockets of the manufactures.
Allowing us to upgrade our systems means that we do not buy new systems as fast as they need us too. If you run the standard spec on the kit you will probably be forced to upgrade within 2 years.
If they let you upgrade the memory (2 generations on my experience) and the hard drive (I seem to do this 3 times in the life of a laptop) then your might not fulfil your primary - ney Only, function for as long as 7 or even 8 years.
Where's the point in that?
How are these poor people going to make a decent living?
For desktop users, there's a nice trick you can do with (at least) Linux software raid - "write-mostly" mode. Put an SSD and an old-fashioned hard drive together in a mirrored pair (RAID1), and set the conventional drive to "write-mostly". Then, all reads happen from the SSD, but all writes are made to both disks. You get the read speed of SSD without the reliability worries. Write speed takes a hit, obviously, but, you know, it's a trade-off.
To Answer the questions....
1) Yes and No. SSD awareness is more of an operating system feature. Windows Vista/7, newer Linux versions (don't remember the kernel version number), and yes, even MacOSX (to some extent) recognize SSDs and behave differently (ie: pass TRIM commands to the drive). As far as MBR and the like, yes, works the same.
2) Read my #1 response.
3) It's not imperative, but definitely SSD-debilitating if your OS "defrags" your SSD regularly. Debilitating, meaning reduces lifespan (unnecessary writes) and can cause your drive to run in a "dirty" state, like an unTRIMed drive.
Best bet is to run a TRIM-capable SSD and OS, or at least have garbage collection capabilities for the SSD.
A few other notes:
1) Glad the author used a V+100 Kingston drive. Their older counterparts (the SSDNow 64GB and such non-V+100 drives) are horrific performers compared to other like-priced SSDs.
2) "There's just one fly in the ointment – the age of the upgradeable computer is vanishing." - I would just like to refute this concept outright. Most PC laptops come with easy component bays for hard drives and RAM. They're even making it /easier/ to access such components. It's the world of Apple that you are seeing the "upgradable computer" vanish. They go so far as to (attempt to) require Apple-branded marked-up SSDs (via drivers) to support TRIM. This quote is from the skewed perspective of an Apple user.