One of the essential decisions when buying a computing device is the storage options for your data. The types of storage drives on the market today are the older hard disk drives (HDD) and the newer solid state drives (SSD). Budget computers still tend to ship with hard disk drives, but the price per gigabyte of solid state drives is dropping at a faster rate than that of HDDs. If you’re unsure what type of drive you should choose, here is a comparison to shed light on the subject.
SSD Vs. HDD: Side-By-Side Comparison
|File transfer speed||Up to 30 megabytes per second||Up to 3,500 megabytes per second|
|Read/Write speed||Up to 1.4 MB/s||Up to 250 MB/s|
|Capacity||120 gigabytes to 30 terabytes||250 gigabytes to 20 terabytes|
|Cost per gigabyte||4 to 6 cents on average||10 cents on average|
|Power consumption||1.875 watts per hour||0.833 watts per hour|
|Average lifespan||10 years||10 years|
|Year invented||1956||1989 (flash-based)|
SSD Vs. HDD: 5 Must-Know Facts
- For portable devices, hard disk drives can corrupt data when the device is jostled or bumped, so an SSD drive has a clear advantage in reliability for laptops.
- Gaming use cases see SSD drives indispensable for their superior ability to load game levels and for the increased speed of general computing tasks. Enthusiasts also appreciate the fast OS loading when the SSD is set as the boot drive.
- People who often copy large files will save many hours of file transfer time by using solid state drives that perform these tasks typically twenty times faster than HDD drives.
- HDD drives are often the go-to choice for high-capacity storage, but the compact nature of SSD drives enables their capacity to exceed what HDD drives are capable of.
- Lifespans of SSD drives used to be a drawback, but they are now on par with the lifespans of hard disk drives.
An SSD can write typically 20 times faster than an HDD and read up to 10 times faster. This speed differential can be seen when comparing midrange models of each type of drive. When computer motherboards begin to progress to PCI 4.0 connections for SSDs, the speed gap is expected to increase even further. Part of the reason that SSDs are gaining such a big lead is that they no longer use the old SATA interface that was a leftover technology on motherboards for hard disk drives.
When hard drives are copying large files, the operation typically is performed at around 20 megabytes per second. The newer NVMe SSDs can perform these operations at up to 3500 megabytes per second. This makes backing up hard drives much more convenient on SSDs. When using an SSD as a boot drive, the loading time for the operating system can be reduced to mere seconds compared to the several minutes one is used to on a hard disk drive. SSD drives also perform noticeably better when reading and writing smaller files. This makes a big difference in gaming and with computing in general because Windows uses some drive space for virtual RAM.
The SSD drives of today are comparable in reliability to most hard drives, although this wasn’t the case when SSDs first entered the market. A hard drive could theoretically last decades if the mechanical parts didn’t suffer any failures. Both types of drives have lifespans of about 10 years on average. Although SSDs don’t have moving parts that can fail, the cells that hold memory can only be overwritten a finite number of times.
For storing large repositories of data, hard disk drives tend to be the primary choice due to the affordability of high-capacity HDD drives. Another important reliability factor is the tendency for HDD drives to produce corrupt data if the system is moved or jolted during operation. When considering all these factors, an SSD could be considered more reliable for many use cases.
Storage capacity used to be an issue for SSD drives, but it is becoming more common for these drives to come in 1 terabyte size and greater. Currently, the largest SSD drives that you typically find are up to 4 terabytes, but these are expensive. Since SSD drives are smaller and their design is more compact, they can actually reach higher capacities than HDDs. Some SSDs are available up to 30 terabytes, whereas the HDD capacity reaches up to 20 terabytes. Nonetheless, for high-capacity drives of several terabytes, hard disk drives are more common and affordable.
SSD Vs. HDD: Which One Is Better?
People who typically transfer large files will benefit greatly from using SSD drives that will cut hours off of data read/write times. Since lifespan is no longer an issue for SSD drives, they could also be a choice for long-term storage, but archivists and people who collect large amounts of data that aren’t moved around often would probably choose hard disk drives until the price of high-capacity SSDs comes down further.
For gaming and boot drive purposes, the SSD is clearly a more attractive choice, unless the consumer is forced to choose the most low-end budget solution that would only provide an HDD. Energy-conscious people will also want to choose SSD drives because they use less power due to their non-mechanical design.