Whether you're building a new desktop or buying a new laptop or upgrading an older one, you cannot avoid the SSD vs HDD debate. You may wonder- *Which storage drive is faster? *Which one lasts longer? *Which one is cheaper?
As a veteran in the tech industry, I will answer these questions and you'll find out if you really need an SSD to buy.
Solid-state drives (SSD) store data via electric charges, while hard disk drives (HDD) store data in magnetic disks. SSDs are faster, lighter, performance-oriented, and more stable, while HDDs are cheaper and offer more capacity. The best choice for each individual depends on their needs.
In this article, I will discuss various positive and negative aspects regarding HDD vs SSD.
SSD vs HDD: What are They?
As you may already know, SSDs are a newer form of technology in the storage medium than HDDs. Before you decide which drive to buy, you should know a little more about the SSD vs HDD hardware difference.
HDD (Hard Disk Drive)gets this name due to the LP record, which resides inside it. It uses magnetic technology to store data onto the rotating disk and read them when the users want it. Transducers or needle arms are used to read and write this data.
Likewise, SSD (Solid State Drive) refers to the lack of moving parts in this type of storage drive. This lacking allows SSDs to be much smaller than HDDs. The M.2 form factor of SSDs can be connected directly to the Motherboard without any wiring.
Here are the key differences:
- Data is stored in integrated circuits.
- Completely solid without any moving parts.
- Generally lighter and smaller.
- Can be directly connected to the motherboard (M.2).
- Data is stored magnetically.
- Contains moving parts.
- Generally heavier and bigger.
- Cannot be directly connected to the Motherboard.
Because of the moving parts, HDDs are generally more vulnerable than SSDs, although this is not a decisive factor. Depending on the quality, some HDDs could potentially output better performance than other SSDs.
SSD vs HDD Pricing Comparison
SSDs are considerably more expensive than HDDs at the same capacity. You can easily get yourself a 2TB of HDD, but the cost would be enormous for an SSD of the same capacity. It would be best if you always compare individual SSDs and HDDs before buying.
SSD vs HDD Speed Comparison
Superior speed is one of the major contributing factors behind the popularity of SSDs. In most scenarios, SSD’s have a much higher read/write speed than their HDD counterparts.
Speeds for HDDs are measured in RPM, which stands for Revolutions Per Minute. It refers to how quickly the disk rotates inside an HDD. As you must’ve guessed, RPM does not apply to SSDs. If that’s the case, how can you determine the speed of SSD vs HDD?
You have to use common factors to determine HDD vs SSD speed. You can see a comparison of the speed of HDD vs SSD using these factors here:
5.5 to 8.0 milliseconds
400 to 500 milliseconds
200 MB/s to 550 MB/s
50 MB/s to 120 MB/s
SSD vs HDD Lifespan Comparison
The lifespan of SSD vs HDD comes down to which type of drive lasts longer. As you would imagine, the magnetic data-storage mechanism makes HDDs vulnerable, but it doesn’t mean that SSDs are the clear victors.
Data in SSDs are stored in the form of electrical charges, and several factors can harm this data. There are clear areas where one may be seen as superior to the other in the HDD vs. SSD lifespan debate.
Factor to compare
Data in disconnected SSDs begin degrading sooner than HDDs, after at least 10 years.
Data in disconnected HDDs take more time than SSDs to begin the degradation process.
SSDs are weak to both low and high temperatures. Non-optimal temperature can increase the data degradation rate.
HDDs are weak to low temperatures, as the higher humidity can cause oxidization, thus ruining the drive.
As SSDs use electrical charges to store data, they are not harmed by magnets
HDDs should always be kept away from magnets as the magnetic core can be corrupted by external magnets, thereby destroying the data.
All SSDs come with a limit of how many times you can write on it. This considers the entire capacity of the SSD.
HDDs do not have such a limitation.
0. 5% rate of failure.
2% to 5% rate of failure.
You don’t have to worry about the lifespan of HDD vs SSD. The drives from any renowned brand in the market should last enough no matter which one you buy.
SSD vs HDD Power Consumption
Once again, the lack of moving parts has given SSDs an edge over HDDs in power consumption. SSDs consume between 2 to 5 watts of power, while HDDs consume between 6 to 15 watts of power.
But the power that these drives directly take to operate is not the only cost. Your CPU also has to expend power to read and write from these drives. For SSD, CPU has to spend 1% of its power, while for HDD, the cost is about 7% of its power.
Although the difference looks like a lot at first glance, neither drives are active all the time. Hence, the drives do not consume any power when they are idle. So, you don’t have a lot to gain from making an HDD vs SSD power consumption argument.
However, if you are running a laptop, an SSD can increase its battery life over an HDD. Since you have no battery life to worry about for non-portable computers, you don’t have to worry about it in those cases.
SSD vs HDD Reliability Comparison
No matter which drives you to buy, a product from a good and renowned brand should last as long as its warranty unless you receive an incredibly faulty unit. For the average user, SSDs are more reliable than HDDs. However, this does not paint a complete picture.
- Backup Storage: HDDs are better as backup storage drives as they last much longer in isolation than SSDs.
- Surveillance Storage: The storage drives for surveillance have to write a lot, but do not have to read as much. You may also have to periodically wipe them to store new data. Hence, HDDs will generally be more reliable than SSDs.
- Write Limit: There is no practical write limit on HDDs, but SSDs have a limit on how much data can be stored overall, including all the times the drive is cleaned. So, workstations that do a lot of writing should opt for HDDs for better reliability.
- Data Loss: SSDs are 4 to 10 times more reliable than HDDs in terms of longevity and data loss.
- Bad Sectors: HDDs are susceptible to fragmentation, so you occasionally have to use defragmentation to fix them. SSDs do not have this issue and would be severely harmed instead if you defragmented them.
If you are likely to upgrade or change your computer within 3 to 5 years, neither drive will cause you to worry. HDD vs SSD reliability comes down to which lasts longer, and if you are an average user, you won’t know the difference.
SSD vs HDD Performance Comparison
With great speed comes excellent performance, and that’s why SSDs offer notably better performance than HDDs. Generally, HDD vs SSD performance can be determined based on a few specific factors.
Factor to compare
Average of 10 to 13 seconds.
Average of 30 to 40 seconds.
From 200 MB/s to 550 MB/s.
From 50 MB/s to 120 MB/s.
Executes at least 30% faster compared to HDD.
Executes slower than SSDs.
SSDs don’t lose the read/write speed from being used a lot.
HDDs can begin to show signs of aging when used for a long time, offering slower speeds.
Purely in terms of performance, HDD is not a match for SSD. If you have an older computer that has gotten really slow, getting an SSD can instantly revive it. New computers with SSDs also offer more consistent performance over the years.
SSD vs HDD Gaming Comparison
A striking difference could be found for SSD vs. HDD in gaming, especially with modern games that use a lot of resources. It’s because games have to read and write a lot of data when you’re playing. So, your gaming experience will be significantly better on an SSD.
If you’re not making a gaming PC or have no plan to play the latest and greatest games, you don’t have to explore SSD vs HDD. Older titles are likely to run decently on both types of drives.
But since you’re reading this and want the best performance for your games, you can disregard HDDs from the start. So, which SSD should you get for the best performance?
M.2 is a newer form-factor for SSDs that are much smaller and you can directly connect it to your Motherboard. Even here, these small SSDs may utilize a SATA III or NVMe transfer protocol. Just know that NVMe is the newer and faster variant.
So, you should get an M.2 SSD with an NVMe connector.
SSD vs HDD Maintenance Comparison
You may experience variable longevity from your SSD based on whether your operating system is configured to recognize an SSD's presence properly or not. The way to maintain an HDD is notably different than SSDs.
The latest (ver. 2004) of Windows 10 comes with a bug that can be severely harmful to your SSD. It happens because Windows cannot tell that you have an SSD and continues to run scheduled defragmentation on the drive.
Defragmentation is good for HDDs, and you should definitely do it if you see fragmentation in the drive. However, SSDs are not susceptible to fragmentation. Defragmentation writes and wipes data on the SSD unnecessarily, damaging its capability and longevity.
- Check for fragmentation on your HDDs.
- Defragment your HDDs when necessary.
- Never defragment your SSDs.
- Turn off scheduled defragmentation in Windows 10.
The GPT Partition Table is considerably better for newer computers compared to the MBR Partition Table. For HDD vs SSD maintenance, you can safely use the GPT partition table. It is suitable for both drives and removes some read/write limitations.
SSD vs HDD Data Recovery Comparison
You might have noticed how SSD has dominated most of the discussion categories in this article. But it is not going to dominate this one. SSDs are considerably more difficult to recover data from when compared to HDDs. Keep reading to know why.
Factor to compare
Before SSDs fail, there are no clear warning signs. The speed does not drop, and there are no sounds either because there are no moving parts. It just suddenly crashes.
Before HDDs fail, the user can see and experience clear warning signs. The read/write speed drops, strange noises are made, and the OS may have trouble booting often.
The data in SSDs are frequently moved from one place to another in an attempt to stop wear and tear. This makes it more difficult to identify where certain data is on the drive.
The data in HDDs are stored magnetically to the platter. To read this data, specific parts of the platter can be targeted.
Some modern SSDs come with TRIM feature turned on. This feature completely erases data from the drive when it is deleted by the user, making a recovery very difficult.
Such a feature does not exist in HDDs. Even when you delete a file, the drive does not delete its data. It is only truly erased when new data is written over it.
SSDs are considerably newer than HDDs. So, there are fewer tools and specialists in SSD data recovery.
HDDs have dominated the market for most years of modern computing. Hence, there are numerous tools and specialists in HDD data recovery.
So, you have read through the whole article without making a proper decision, or you have jumped directly to this epilogue. Whichever the case, I will give you a verdict here and now.
- SSD: If you need the performance over anything else, usually for gaming, designing, rendering, get an SSD. If you want your OS to run faster and get rid of the lag, get an SSD. If you have a laptop, get an SSD.
- HDD: If you need a drive for surveillance, get an HDD. If you have a lot of things to store without modification, get an HDD. If you want to store data away in your closet, get an HDD.
Why Not Both? Yes, you can get both. If you only use your computer for regular academic or professional work and a little bit of gaming on the side, you don’t have to invest heavily in an SSD.
Instead, get a small 120GB or 240GB SSD and install your operating system on it. The rest of your drives where you store your files can be partitioned from an HDD. It is the most cost-effective solution for the average user.
Which Brands are Good? An SSD from Samsung is recommended. These are a little expensive, but they are just as good. You can also look at Transcend for cheaper options. Western Digital and Transcend are both great for HDDs.