Difference Between SSD and HDD: Which is better?

Both SSDs and HDDs perform the same tasks and look almost similar in their physical specifications. However, they work differently and have their own unique features. In this article, we are going to compare two storage mediums, solid-state drive (SSD) and traditional hard disk drive (HDD).  Here, you will learn all the difference between SSD and HDD in terms of speed, capacity, cost, and lifespan, etc.

Difference Between SSD and HDD

In the digital era, it is very difficult to choose the right hardware when you are going to upgrade your computer or laptop, or if you are going to buy a new one. This article will help you decide which one is right for you. Before we discuss the difference between SSD and HDD, let's have a quick overview of these two storage devices:

What is HDD?

HDD or Hard Disk Drive is a data storage device that is made up of magnetic tape and consists of mechanical parts inside. HDD rely on spinning disk, or metal platter with a magnetic coating, to read and write data. A read/write head on an arm floats above the spinning platter to access the data. It consists of a motor that is used to spin the platter and move the arm. 

The faster the platter spins, the faster the HDD reads and writes data. The common size for HDDs is 2.5 inches for laptops and 3.5 inches for desktop computers. HDDs predominantly use SATA (stands for "Serial Advanced Technology Attachment," or "Serial ATA") interface.

Difference Between SSD and HDD - What is HDD (Hard Disk Drive)?

What is SSD?

SSDs almost perform the same functionalities as HDDs, but SSDs use interconnected flash-memory chips to store data. As its name suggests, solid-state drive, which means there are no moving parts in SSDs. Without the spinning disk, head, and arm, SSDs can go down to the shape and size, making them more flexible for smaller devices.

SSDs also come with SATA ports and 2.5-inch format so that they can be easily installed in place of HDDs. Also, there are smaller SSDs with mini-SATA (mSATA) used in the mini-PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) Express slots. Most modern laptops come with SSD installed in a PCI Express expansion slot or mounted directly on the motherboard. These board mounted SSDs use a form factor known as M.2.

Apart from this, there are upgraded SSDs using NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) interface that can deliver the fastest possible SSDS read/write speed. However, NVMe is the way to go. It may take some time to move from servers in the data center to consumer laptops.

Note: While SSDs may take the size of traditional 2.5-inch or 3-inch HDDs, they can also be of different sizes. For SSD-based M.2 modules, the most common sizes are 22mm wide x30mm long, 22mm x 42mm, 22mm x 60mm, 22mm x 80mm and 22mm x 110mm.
Difference Between SSD and HDD - What is SSD (Solid State Drive)?

Difference between SSD and HDD

Both of these storage devices have advantages and disadvantages. The choice is really dependent on the user, their needs, and budget. We have selected some key aspects to define the difference between SSD and HDD, let's look at them:

SSD vs HDD: Price

This is one of the major differences between HDD and SSD. SSDs cost more per gigabyte than traditional HDDs. SSDs based on SATA are cheaper than M2 and PCIe SSDs. SATA SSDs are not that much expensive when compared to a traditional hard drive. 

Since SSDs use new technology, they will remain expensive from the hard disk for the foreseeable future even after the price has been reduced for years.

SSD vs HDD: Capacity

In terms of capacity, a hard disk drive has little advantage over solid-state drives because; you can have plenty of space at a cheaper price. However, more physical space will be used to store several terabytes.

On the other hand, SSDs are very expensive if you want to buy more than 1TB. However, SSDs are much smaller in size if you obtain several terabytes. But, this is currently unusual due to price.

SSD vs HDD: Reliability/Durability

When it comes to durability, SSDs are said to be more durable. Since there are no moving parts, if you accidentally drop your laptop, your data is more likely to be protected.

HDDs, on the other hand, are more susceptible to physical damage because they are made of mechanical parts. If you drop an HDD or laptop, you are more likely to lose your data with a corrupted HDD or physical damage. This is an issue because there is a high probability that all moving parts inside the HDD may collide.

SSD vs HDD: Lifespan

Since each cell in a flash-memory supports the limited number of read/write cycles, the lifespan of HDDs is said to be more than SSDs. However, it is not a serious concern nowadays due to the TRIM command technology. This technology dynamically optimizes the read/write cycles. 


Typically, an SSD nowadays will take decades until the disk fails; Even if someone writes data to a hard disk 24 hours in a row. A person can upgrade their SSD due to the desire to have more storage before the current SSD fails or goes bad.

Also Read: Types of Computer Memory

SSD vs HDD: Speed

Speed is one of the biggest factors that can distinguish SSDs from HDDs. Speed in a hard disk is usually calculated according to RPM (revolutions per minute). The higher the RPM, the faster the HDD can perform.

Nowadays, HDDs typically spin at either 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM for personal computers and laptops. However, some server-based platters can spin up to 15000 RPM. In general, drives with 5400 RPM can deliver speeds of 100MB/s, while 7200 RPM can go up to 150 MB/s.

As there are no platters or other moving parts inside SSDs, the speed of SSDs is measured in MB/s. Typically, an SSD based on SATA can achieve speeds up to 550 MB/s, which is about three times higher than a traditional HDD. Moreover, the average speed for M.2/PCIe SSDs can go up to 2.2GB/s. Therefore, SSDs are much faster than HDDs.

SSD vs HDD: Gaming

When the computer drive has better read/write speeds, the gaming experience is improved, which makes SSDs more conducive to accessible gaming. Games can carry many GB of data as they are made up of assets such as high-resolution textures, audio, characters, models, and more. These data are loaded in parts or when needed.

Typically, games that take three to four minutes to load on an HDD can take one or two minutes on an SSD. In short, SSDs are game-changers.

SSD vs HDD: Noise

As there are moving parts inside the HDD, it makes little noise when in use. The faster the platter rotates inside the HDD, the more noise it produces. Besides, SSDs make no noise because there are no moving parts. SSDs are non-mechanical.


SSD vs HDD: Power Consumption

HDDs use more battery than SSDs. It is because there are moving parts inside the HDDs such as a platter which require energy to rotate itself from a standstill. Consequently, the energy consumed by HDDs is also wasted as friction or noise.

SSDs are energy efficient and can add extra hours of battery life when you are working on a laptop or tablet. 

SSD vs HDD: Other Consideration

There are many other things to consider before concluding what is right for you. For example, because SSDs don’t have moving parts, they are more robust. There is no fragmentation issue with SSDs as the data can be written anywhere without penalty. Due to random access, SSDs are incredibly fast compared to an HDD.

While SSDs are faster, robust, and more energy-efficient, HDDs are more affordable due to its price- especially when it comes to having larger capacities.

SSD vs HDD: Side by Side Comparison

Let’s perform side by side comparison which might help you determine which is better for your individual needs. 

Attribute HDD SSD
Full-Form Hard Disk Drive Solid State Drive
Components Moving Mechanical Parts, e.g., arm. Electrical Parts, e.g., ICs.
Cost Cheap Expensive
Battery Consumption High Low
Speed Lower than SSD High
Capacity Higher Lower
Weight Heavy Light-weight
Size Large Compact
Data Transfer Sequential Random
Reliability Less, due to mechanical parts. More reliable than HDD.
R/W Time Higher number of R/W time Shorter R/W time
Fragmentation Issue Yes No
Magnetism Effect Susceptible to strong magnets. No effect, safe from magnetism.
Latency Higher Shorter
Noise Yes, due to spinning No Noise
Vibration Little vibration No vibration


Conclusion

If you are still confused and not able to decide which one is right for you, then let’s get straight to the conclusion:

An HDD might be the right choice if:
You don't want to spend a lot of money.
You don’t care about the speed of your computer like how fast it boots up or open programs.
You want to keep your data saved for a longer time.

An SSD might be the right choice if:
You can pay more because you cannot negotiate with the performance.
You are not willing to store the data for so long, especially not willing to rewriting the data many times.

The best solution that people prefer is to use a combination, where the SSD will be used as a primary drive to store operating systems and software, and HDD will be used as a secondary drive to store your personal data files or media files. In this way, you will get an all-round machine with a balance of price, performance, and space.


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