HDD vs SSD – which one should you choose?

A hard disk drive. Picture credit: pixabay.com/ PublicDomainPictures

Solid state drives (SSDs) are becoming more commonplace these days and replacing hard disk drives (HDDs). A few years ago, they were not very reliable as the technology was still developing. They were available only in small memory sizes and were pretty expensive.

But this is all changing with SSD technology developing by leaps and bounds.

HDD:


Inside a hard disk drive. Picture credit: pixabay.com/ tvjoern

Traditional HDDs are based on magnetic technology. Data is stored on platters and there is an arm that moves to the relevant place to read or write data. 

Their write speed is in the range of 50 to 120 Mb/s.

Advantages:
They are a proven technology.

They are far cheaper than SSDs for the same amount of storage.

HDDs are available with bigger capacities than SSDs.

Disadvantages:
HDDs are mechanical devices and prone to wear and tear. Due to this, they tend to slow down over time.

They are delicate and an impact could cause the HDD to fail.

They draw more current and are heavier than SSDs.

SSD:


A SATA solid state drive. Picture credit: pt.wikipedia.org/ Santeri Viinamaki

SSDs are just like USB pen drives, but having larger capacities. Instead of magnetic platters, data is stored on memory chips just like in pen drives. SSDs have controllers that help to read and write data. Internal SSDs are mounted inside the desktop or laptop. External SSDs have a casing and can be connected to the computer via USB.

Their write speed can go up to 550 MB/s.

Advantages:
 


Inside a solid state drive. Picture credit: commons.wikimedia.org/ Hans Haase

Incredibly fast load times for the operating system, photos, videos, software or computer games. For example, an operating system will load in about 15 seconds with an SSD, while an HDD will take about 40 seconds.

They are far lighter than HDDs.

They are not mechanical devices and are not as delicate as HDDs.

They do not draw as much power as HDDs. This is particularly important if a laptop is being used on battery power.

Disadvantages:
Cost is much higher than HDDs of similar capacities.

SSDs do not last as long as HDDs. There is a certain number of times data can be written or read before the memory cells begin to fail. But this happens due to heavy use and when the write threshold is crossed, which is the terabytes written (TBW).

Currently, there are SSDs from 128 GB all the way up to 4 TB. Of course, a 4 TB SSD is going to be terribly expensive. But for professionals who require very fast read/write speeds, this technology is a boon and it could be worth the expense.

Again, constantly writing and reading data on an SSD will see it fail faster than just being used to load the operating system.

Many users will use an SSD as the main drive that holds the operating system and the frequently used software. Other data is saved on external HDDs.

SSD form factors:
SSDs are available in various form factors too – Serial ATA (SATA), Add-In Card (AIC), M.2 and U.2. SATA SSDs are the regular 2.5-inch box-like drives that are connected via cables in a desktop and via connectors in a laptop.

AIC SSDs have to be connected to the motherboard as was done previously for modems, graphics or sound cards.

M.2 SSDs resemble RAM modules and need to be placed in the relevant slot in laptops or desktops. Since these are very small in size, they are widely used in many of the sleek laptops that are in the market today.

U.2 SSDs look similar to SATA drives but the connector is different. They are commonly seen in servers.

SATA drives tend to be cheaper than the other form factors. If a laptop has only an M.2 slot, there is no option but to get the same kind while upgrading.

SSDs are manufactured by Kingston, Samsung, Western Digital, Crucial, Transcend, Seagate, Hewlett-Packard (HP), SanDisk, Hyper X and other companies. 

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HDD vs SSD – which one should you choose?

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