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
What are the similarities and differences between SSD vs HDD? Let’s take a look!

SSD Vs. HDD: Side-By-Side Comparison

HDDSSD
File transfer speedUp to 30 megabytes per secondUp to 3,500 megabytes per second
Read/Write speedUp to 1.4 MB/sUp to 250 MB/s
Capacity120 gigabytes to 30 terabytes250 gigabytes to 20 terabytes
Cost per gigabyte4 to 6 cents on average10 cents on average
Power consumption1.875 watts per hour0.833 watts per hour
Average lifespan10 years10 years
Year invented19561989 (flash-based)

SSD Vs. HDD: 5 Key Points and 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.
SSD card
An SSD, or Solid State Drive, storage device is widely regarded as the superior option over HDDs.

Performance

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.

eMMC vs SSD
SSDs technology is used for hard drives in computers, graphics cards, servers, and portable devices like smartphones.

Reliability

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

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.

Extreme upclose of 1 TB hard disk drive (HDD) storage space
One terabyte disk storage is the equivalent of 1,000 gigabytes (GB).

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.

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SSD vs HDD: A Full Comparison FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is SSD?

The three letters in the initialism SSD stand for “solid state drive.” This, simply put, means that the device has no moving parts. This also means that this is a new type of data storage drive that does not write to a spinning disk. Instead, data is stored in memory in a method that is similar to a portable USB flash drive.

What is HDD?

HDD stands for “hard disk drive.” This refers to the traditional type of storage drive that stores information on a spinning disk. The “hard” descriptor is meant to delineate these types of storage drives from thin, bendable “floppy” disks that were more common decades ago.

Which is better, SSD or HDD?

Although SSD drives are more expensive per gigabyte of storage, it’s hard to justify using a spinning hard disk drive unless there is no option to install an SSD. Solid state drives perform much faster for writing and reading data. Consequently, if your operating system and programs are installed on an SSD, they will perform noticeably better.

Is a 256GB SSD better than a 1TB HDD?

For storing media such as movies, television shows or large collections of music, it could be worthwhile for people on a budget to buy a 1 terabyte hard disk drive rather than a 256 GB SSD. However, 1 TB SSDs are becoming more affordable, and only the most budget-conscious people would benefit from a hard disk drive at that size. For drives 4 terabytes or larger, hard disks are usually the preferred option.

Is an SSD really faster than an HDD?

SSD drives retrieve and write data much faster than HDD drives. SSD drives are typically about five times faster than HDDs, but, in some cases, up to 20 times faster.

What are the disadvantages of SSD?

The disadvantage of SSD drives is that they are more expensive options for higher-capacity drives that would be used for home media storage. Also, not all pre-built computers come with an SSD, which means that it might be more difficult to find a budget computer that has one by default.

SSD vs HDD: What are the pros and cons?

SSD drives have many advantages. They are not only faster, but they are more reliable because they don’t have moving parts that can wear out over time. A hard drive also can have read or write errors if the drive is bumped or moved while it’s operating, which could result in corrupt data. Another factor that makes hard drives less efficient is that the rotation speed of the disk varies depending on where the data is written on the disk. The outer edge of the disk moves at a faster speed than the inner part because the circumference at the edge is greater.

The cons of SSD drives stem from the fact that they’re relatively new, especially the latest NVMe M.2 format drives. As a new technology, these types of drives are not always installed on pre-built systems, the storage capacity tends to be lower and the price per gigabyte is higher.

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