SSD or HDD Hard Drives

Is your hard drive getting filled up and slowing down? Right up to the late 2000s, we had a much simpler world. You only had the hard disk storage format to choose from, with slight variations in size and speed. However, if you want to upgrade your business hardware, you may be split between the conventional hard disk drive (HDD) or a quicker Solid State Drive (SSD). We’ll go through the distinctions between HDDs and SSDs in relation to performance, capacity, speed, pricing, and durability, as well as how to use specialized optimization technology to keep your new drive running optimally.

What’s the Big Difference?

The major difference between an SSD and a hard drive is the way data is stored and retrieved. A hard disk drive (HDD) is a storage tool that accesses data using mechanical platters and a revolving read/write head. The solid-state drive is a newer and faster storage device that holds data on instantly accessible memory chips.

These two drives serve the same purpose, but the mechanisms behind them are in stark contrast:

  • HDDs: A ferromagnetic coating covers a set of platters in an enclosure. A head (akin to how vinyl record albums work) reads and writes data as it moves quickly from one disk section to another. Because all the components are “mechanical,” the hard disk drive is the most fragile and slowest part of any computer.
  • SSD: These latest disks hold data on flash memory that is made up of individual memory cells holding storage bits that the controller may access instantaneously. The chipsets on the SSD are pretty similar to random access memory (RAM). SSD files are stored on a grid of NAND flash cells. These grids (also known as blocks) have individual storage capacities ranging between 256 KB to 4 MB. When your computer system makes a file request, it is instantly availed as the SSD controller has the exact address of the grids. There’s no need to wait for a manual moving head to locate the needed data. Consequently, SSD turnaround time is a few nanoseconds.

Why are SSDs Suited for Laptops?

Because SSDs are not mechanical, they are frequently used in laptops. Solid-state SSDs also consume less power, translating into longer battery life. While some lower-cost laptops are still equipped with traditional hard drives (to reduce manufacturing costs), a majority of mid-range to high-end laptops have SSDs.

Solid-state drives, unlike hard disks, do not have moving parts and are shock-proof. If you drop your PC, the read and write head is likely to move, potentially causing data loss. SSDs don’t have this problem.

However, it isn’t always an either/or situation. “Hybrid” computers also exist. In this case, the system partition is installed on the SSD. This partition includes the operating system, software applications, and other frequently used files. Other files such as documents and images are saved on a standard HDD that is larger and inexpensive.

Speed Variations between SSDs and HDDs

SSDs and HDDs have a substantial speed difference. SSDs are exceedingly fast in every way. However, the difference is most apparent when executing certain operations, such as:

Small “4K” Read/write Processes

When you run your PC’s operating system, start apps, or surf the internet, you’re launching and modifying thousands of tiny files held in small data units (usually in sizes of 4K). The quicker (and snappier) the disk can read (and write) the 4K blocks, the quicker your system will run. HDD speeds vary from 0.1 to 1.7 MB/s. Solid state drives, on the other hand, operate at substantially quicker speeds of up to 250 MB/s.

Sequential Read/Write Operations

The speed difference between an SSD and a hard drive is most evident when copying and transferring large data files. The copying operation on HDDs reaches about 150 MBps, but the same activity on regular SSDs reaches a maximum of 3,500 MBps. This means that an SSD can transfer a 25 GB movie in under 15 seconds, whereas a hard disk would take approximately 120 seconds.

SSDs are especially beneficial in these areas:

  • Mobility: SSDs use little power, resulting in longer battery durability in tablets and laptops. SSDs are also resistant to shock, meaning that data loss is less likely when mobile devices accidentally drop.
  • Gaming: Computers used for gaming have intensive speed and capacity demand, necessitating the purchase of costly equipment for optimal performance. This is especially true in terms of storage, because heavy-capacity games are continually loading and writing heavy graphics files.
  • Servers: Business servers need SSDs to complete quick reading and writing operations to efficiently serve their client computers.
  • Business: SSDs are typically used by companies that work with large volumes of data, as access turnaround times and file transfer speeds are crucial.

Lifespan Differences between SSDs and HDDs

Although the lifespan of SSD cells is limited, there are several mitigations to this today. The lifespan of SSDs depends on the amount of data run through them. The more data is loaded into a cell, the faster it burns out. Each cell can now withstand roughly 3,000 write cycles. This may appear as a weak point, but due to the wear-leveling principle, the SSD controller ensures that writing operations are distributed uniformly across all the cells, reducing “cell death.” Furthermore, recent SSDs have spare blocks that can be used to replace those that fail. Larger SSDs last longer due to this bad block management feature. 

However, HDDs can last for decades, with data being constantly written for up to 24 hours a day.

Capacity and Price Differences between SSDs and HDDs

There are no storage capacity differences between HDDs and SSDs. You can always find HDD and SSD drives right from 128GB to 2GB. However, their prices differ. As much as SSD prices have decreased significantly, there is still a wide price difference as the flash storage market remains volatile based on supply and demand. A 2 TB SSD costs about $375, while the same HDD costs about $135 on the open market. These prices are, however, open to varying with time.

Final Word

HDDs are still a good option if you are only looking for an affordable data storage option. They have a large number of terabytes available at a low price. However, if you deal with huge data analytics and complex business operations, you are better off upgrading to an SSD as it provides more efficient and faster performance. Need more consultation on aligning your storage choices to your business needs? Reach out to us for this and other IT consultation solutions, including technical support, cyber security, network services, and business continuity.

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