Till a few years ago, you had very few options regarding the type of storage you would get on your personal computer. Only if you had purchased an ultraportable Windows-based system, you were likely to have a Solid-state drive (SSD) as the primary drive, rest all the laptops and desktops had a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) as the primary drive. However, times have changed, and with technological advancements over the years, you can now choose the type of storage you want to have on your computer.
However, the confusion that arises is whether you should choose an SSD or an HDD as the storage device for your laptop or desktop. This is because there are no straight-cut answers as to which is a better storage device. Each user has a different set of requirement, preferences, and budget depending upon which the decision must be made as to which storage media is to be used. It is essential to know the difference between the two along with their pros and cons to make the right choice.
What is a Hard Disk Drive?
A hard disk drive, popularly known as a hard drive or HDD, is the storage device on your computer or laptop that stores and retrieves digital information by using one or more platters, known as rapidly rotating disks. The magnetic heads are arranged on a moving actuator arm to read and write data to the surfaces. Data is written on these platters using a magnetic head in a random access manner, which means that individual blocks of data can be stored or recovered in any random order rather than sequentially.
It is a type of non-volatile memory, which means that it can retain data even when the power is switched off. The HDD inside your laptop or your desktop resides in the drive bay, which is connected to the motherboard through either a SATA, ATA, or SCSI cable. The drive gets the power from the power supply unit which is connected to it. Since the HDD in a laptop is 2.5 inches and on a desktop it is 3.5 inches, it may be used for both internal and external storage devices.
What is a Solid–State Drive?
In recent times, Solid-State Drive (SSD) that is also known as a solid-state disk though it contains no actual disk has become a popular data storage device that can be used in a laptop or a desktop. It is a solid-state storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently. Just like your computer’s HDD, an SSD also makes use of non-volatile memory for storing and retrieving data. However, unlike a memory stick, it does not have any type of moving parts and the information is stored in microchips, or on a flash memory card. This works as an advantage, allowing you to access the information stored on the device quickly. Even the solid-state drive can be used as both internal and external devices for storing your valuable data.
HDDs vs. SSDs
Similarity: Both SSD and HDD are the primary types of storage media
Difference: HDD utilizes magnetic disk as storage, whereas SSD utilizes memory
Comparison of HDDs & SSDs
Even though both Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Drives performs similar function i.e. stores your data and lets you access it as when required, however, both have their share of advantages and disadvantages. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of both will help you decide which is the best fit for your system based on your requirements.
- Even though the price of SSDs is low and has been dropping considerably, the price per gigabyte advantage is yet strong with HDDs. So, if performance and fast boot up is your prime necessity, and money is secondary, then SSD may serve as a good option and vice versa.
- SSDs are considered to be a more reliable data storage device as compared to HDDs. This is because HDDs are prone to both physical and logical damage that can result in data loss. However, in the case of SSDs, they are less prone to damage because they have a resistant strong magnetic field and temperature fluctuation. Further, data loss due to wearing out of the mechanical components is not possible in case of SSDs. Hence, Solid State Drives are considered to be more reliable as compared to HDs.
- In case of data loss in an HD, be it due to logical or physical failure, data recovery is possible for hard disk failures, unless you have overwritten the data on the drive. There are several HDD recovery software tools available in the market, which you can use to recover the data. However, in a case of data loss in an SSD driver, data recovery process is tremendously complex. One of the major challenges which you may face is identifying whether your SSD is damaged. This is because unlike HDD, it does not send out any signal or symptom. The only way to identify that your drive has failed is when it stops responding completely.
- SDD data recovery gets highly complicated if it is TRIM enabled because the TRIM allows the Operating System on your computer to command the drive to swab off those blocks which are no longer required. When the blocks are wiped out, it fills in those blocks with new data, and this makes the data recovery process complicated.
When to Use Hard disk drives & Solid State Drives?
An HDD may be the right choice in the following conditions:
- Large storage capacity, i.e. up to 6TB is required
- Cost effective
- Unaffected by how fast the system boots up or opens programs
An SSD may serve as a good option under the following conditions:
- User is willing to pay good amount for faster performance
- User does not mind restricted storage capacity
Both HDDs and SSDs are used for storing data on your computer. However, to choose the right one, it is essential to know about the pros and cons of each as discussed above. This will help you assess which of the two would be the best fit for meeting your system needs.