Storing data in a computer has never been this easy, thanks to solid-state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives (HDD). The type of storage you opt for decides the performance of the computer you are using. So how can you decide which one to go for? Both have their own features and limitations that make them unique. Here is a detailed description of the two storage options with their pros and cons.
What are HDDs and SSDs?
HDD is an older way of storing data when there were few modern devices. An HDD is found inside the computer and is equipped with spinning disks to store data. This has metal platters that have a magnetic coating to store data. The firmware and the I/O controller instruct the hardware on how to function and maintain communication with the rest of the system.
The HDD has an arm with many heads to read and write data. The head moves over the surface of the disk to fetch different data. The speed at which the platters spin is pre-decided, and this refers to the read/write rates. The hard drive can read and write data faster if the preset speed is higher and vice versa.
An SSD stores all data in integrated circuits. They use flash memory to retain the data even when the power is switched off. There are no disks or platters like HDD, and the size of an SSD can be minimized like anything to cater to modern devices. The data access time is very less in SSDs as you don’t have to wait for the platter to start moving.
Factors That Differentiate HDDs And SSDs
SSDs usually have a capacity of 2TB or less, and anything greater can be costly. The common ones come with a capacity of 500GB to 1TB. For good laptops, the hard drive capacity is 500GB, but that can go down to 256GB or even 125GB for low-cost varieties with SSDs.
SSD scores in terms of speed. A computer with SSD can boot very fast, sometimes within seconds. It is faster in every task, including file transfer and running applications. HDDs take time to speed up, and even when they are running fast, it is still slower than an SSD.
Then there is something called fragmentation that slows down HDDs further. When the files stored in hard drives are larger, the drive head will read it in one continuous movement. When the drive already has lots of data, bits of files get scattered and leads to fragmentation. This affects performance as fetching data from many different locations becomes difficult.
SSDs don’t face this issue as the data can be stored anywhere without a problem. This makes them faster.
To put it straight, SSDs are expensive than HDDs. A hard drive with a capacity of 1TB costs less than $60, while an SSD of the same capacity can be priced at around $100. Hard drives use old-school technology and are less likely to come with a higher price tag even in the future. If you settle for an SSD with lesser features, you may be able to get an affordable option to buy.
Durability depends a lot on how you work with the system. Luckily, there are no moving parts in an SSD, making it safe even when it happens to shake or fall. But hard drives have read/write heads that keep moving while working. So, if you are not really careful, it can be damaged easily. SSDs are also more reliable than HDDs as the data storage happens more smoothly, and the data does not get corrupted easily.
Use Of Power
It is already discussed that SSDs are faster when it comes to accessing the required data. Because of this feature, the device can remain idle more often. As a result, SSDs use less power and have longer battery life. On the other hand, HDDs take longer to start and need more power to run the spinning disks.
Due to the platters and the arm, one can expect some noise while the hard drives are working. Therefore, faster drives tend to make more noise than slower ones. SSDs are better at this as they work silently without producing any noise.
As the SSDs don’t do any mechanical work as the hard drives, the power consumed by them is not lost as noise or friction. This makes them very efficient when compared to HDDs.
Form factor defines the size and physical configuration of a device. In the initial years, SSDs came in HDD sizes. This changed when there was a need to reduce the size to make them compatible with ultra-thin devices. When choosing the storage device, it is essential to go for the right form factor that fits your system. Future sees further size reduction in SSDs to accommodate them in modern devices.
With the spinning platters, it is challenging to manufacture hard drives in smaller sizes. When the size of the drive reduces, the storage capacity also reduces. So there is no point in making miniature HDDs.
The truth is that both SSDs and HDDs cannot be used after they wear out. Data can be written to and deleted a specific number of times in SSD, after which you will have to discard it. After the specific limit, the drive is going to have read/write errors. So, it is better disposed of. Due to the mechanical way the hard drives operate, they are prone to wear and tear with time.
The discussion throws light on the fact that SSDs perform better in comparison with HDDs. Whether it is the form factor, speed or noise, SSDs have a greater edge. But when it comes to capacity and price, HDDs are better preferred. It is up to an individual to choose the one he wants according to the requirement.