November 9, 2016
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Which is better, SSD or HDD?

We all need space. We can’t all rely on putting our stuff online, so we need bigger, better data storage.

The progress of today’s technology can barely keep up with the demand for faster computing power and larger digital storage. That’s why our current technology has begun to create new ways to accommodate the needs of users. If you buy an ultrabook, it probably contains a solid state drive (SSD) as the primary storage drive. Most computers out there have a hard disk drive (HDD) for long-term data storage. If you’re lucky, you can have both.

Now, you maybe wondering, which is better really? SSD or HDD? The basic thing you should know is that an HDD has moving parts composed of a storage platter (or disk, if you will) and a mechanical arm with a read/write head that moves around and reads information from the right location on the disk. The SSD has no moving parts (that’s why it’s called solid state, an industry shorthand for an integrated circuit) and instead of storing information in a storage disk, data is stored in microchips. The lack of moving parts makes the SSD faster, more stable, and more stable.

Then there’s the even bigger question: How do you choose? There is no straight way to answer this question, as every user has different needs. You need to evaluate your needs, budget, and preferences to determine which type of storage fits your computer.

HDD

Let’s start with the tried and true traditional HDD. An HDD is a form of non-volatile storage that retains data even if you turn off the device. As you can see in the image below, it has moving parts composed of the mechanical arm with its read/write head, and a rotating metal platter with magnetic coating which store data. The more platters an HDD has, the larger the storage capacity. There are even some HDDs that can save up to 6TB of data.

HDD

One of its disadvantages though is it’s slower than the SSD. It takes longer to boot and may require time to speed up operating specs and launch apps. Also, since it has moving parts, moving the hard drive around disturbs the reading/writing process, causing it to disconnect, fail, or in extreme cases, damage the drive.

However, its major advantages over the SSD is it can store a larger amount of data and for a lower cost since usually, SSDs are double the cost of an HDD.

SSD

An SSD uses NAND-flash memory which is another type of non-volatile memory, storing data even when the device is turned off unlike a computer’s system memory. Think of it as a more sophisticated form of a USB drive, only bigger and faster. You can either permanently install the SSD into the motherboard, or use a slot that’s supposed to be for an HDD.

As you can see from the image below, it doesn’t have a mechanical arm with which to read/write data or a metal platter to store the data in. Instead, the SSD has its own processor or “brain” in charge of performing different functions concerned with reading and writing data, and integrated flash memory chips in which to store the data.

SSD

SSDs maybe faster and more stable but they’re more expensive than the HDD. If you’re getting a 1TB HDD for 220 AED, getting a 1TB SSD is rare and will probably be available for twice the price. So for the same price of a 1TB HDD, you’ll get a much smaller SSD. HDD is older tech and will always be cheaper than emerging storage technologies so expect to pay more for better drives. If you really need an upgrade that lasts, it’s a good investment to get SSDs than their clunkier counterparts.

Of course, there are hybrid options like Fusion Drives, which are part HDD and part SSD, hitting that sweet spot between affordability and great storage performance.

Just remember, it’s not about which is better over all, it’s about which is better for you: your needs, your budget, and your preferences. If you need a better measure to compare the two, check out this list by www.storagereview.com.

Attribute SSD (Solid State Drive) HDD (Hard Disk Drive)
Power Draw / Battery Life Less power draw, averages 2 – 3 watts, resulting in 30+ minute battery boost More power draw, averages 6 – 7 watts and therefore uses more battery
Cost Expensive, roughly $0.20 per gigabyte (based on buying a 1TB drive) Only around $0.03 per gigabyte, very cheap (buying a 4TB model)
Capacity Typically not larger than 1TB for notebook size drives; 4TB max for desktops Typically around 500GB and 2TB maximum for notebook size drives; 10TB max for desktops
Operating System Boot Time 10-13 seconds average bootup time 30-40 seconds average bootup time
Noise Quiet because there are no moving parts Moving parts cause audible clicks and spinning
Vibration No moving parts, no vibration Spinning platters sometimes result in vibration
Heat Produced Lower power draw and no moving parts produces little heat Higher power draw and moving parts produce more heat than SSD, but generally not hot enough to cause damage
Failure Rate Mean time between failure rate of 2.0 million hours Mean time between failure rate of 1.5 million hours
File Copy / Write Speed Generally above 200 MB/s and up to 550 MB/s for cutting edge drives Ranges between 50 – 120MB / s
Encryption Full Disk Encryption (FDE) Supported on some models Full Disk Encryption (FDE) Supported on some models
File Opening Speed Up to 30% faster than HDD Slower than SSD
Magnetism Affected? An SSD is safe from any effects of magnetism Magnets can erase data

So, which will you choose? Weigh your options and tell us which one works for you!