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Solid State Drives vs. Hard Drives: Should you spend your precious coins on a drive upgrade?

Articles in Computer Builds | By David Silvester

Published 8 months agoMon, 21 Jan 2019 08:34:19 -0800 | Last update 8 months agoMon, 21 Jan 2019 14:58:24 -0800

Solid state drives and traditional hard drives may look similar in design as well as having the same use – storing your data – but once you look at the mechanics of the two drive types you will realise, they are very different.

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Solid state drives and traditional hard drives may look similar in design as well as having the same use – storing your data – but once you look at the mechanics of the two drive types you will realise, they are very different.

Solid State Drives vs. Hard Drives

What type of hard drive do I need?

Both drive types have their own advantages and disadvantages and your specific computer requirements will dictate which drive is more suitable for you.

How do hard drives work?

Before diving in to the difference between the two types of drives, it is a good idea to understand exactly how hard drives work. First, the purpose of a hard drive is to store persistent data – this would typically be your computers operating system files as well as your personal data such as documents and photos.

The data stored on the hard drive is persistent in the sense that it needs to be stored indefinitely – unlike computer memory (RAM), data stored on a hard drive will remain there even when the computer is switched off. In fact, even when you delete data from a hard drive, it is still physically present on the disk, you just can’t see it.

A traditional “spinning disk” hard drive stores this data in the form of billions of magnetised or demagnetized areas on a circular plate, representing a binary 1 or 0 respectively.

A Hard Drive

[Image Source:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:01b-hard-drive-cover-removed.JPG]

The data on this spindle is written and read by a mechanical arm that moves over the radius of the platter as it is spinning.

The platter in a traditional hard drive typically spins at 5400 RPM (revolutions per minute) or 7200 RPM depending on the specifications. Some drives spin at a higher rate but these are normally reserved for high end server systems.

That may sound fast, however, the complicating factor is that files are typically spread across the platter so reading a single file could require the arm to access many different locations across the surface of the platter.

How do Solid State drives differ?

A Solid State Drive

[Image Source:  https://pixabay.com/en/data-storage-ssd-hard-drive-memory-319844/]

Solid state drives on the other hand use an integrated circuit – often known as a computer chip – to store the data. This results in typical access speeds of 40 to 100 microseconds which is almost 100 times faster than a traditional hard drive.

Hard drives vs Solid state drives – a quick comparison

Solid state drives sound a lot better right? After all, they are much faster. That’s right, speed is the biggest advantage by far when it comes to SSD drives. However, there are some disadvantages to be aware of and that means solid state drives aren’t always the best choice.

Performance

As we have seen already, the performance benefits of a solid-state drive are massive. They are almost 100 times faster in terms of actual read write actions.

To put this into real world numbers, if your computer takes 2 minutes from witching it on, to being on the desktop and ready to use, the same computer with an SSD installed will probably take around 30 seconds. The benefit doesn’t stop there either, almost everything that you do on your computer or laptop involves some reading and writing to the hard drive and so having the faster SSD drive installed makes all your day to day tasks much faster.

As the hard drive tends to be the weakest or slowest component in a computer, it almost always produces a massive benefit moving from a hard drive to a solid state drive.

Storage Space

Storage space is where a solid state drive will let you down as they are typically much smaller than hard drives. If you visit the average online computer supplies website, you will find solid state drives ranging from 120GB up to 4TB. At the top end of that scale they start to get very expensive and installing a 4TB SSD drive would probably double the cost of your computer build.

When it comes to hard drives, the capacity tends to range from 1TB up to 12TB and even at the top end they are still cheaper than the largest solid state drives.

For this reason, storage space is one of the keys deciding factors on whether a solid state drive is right for you. If you are an average computer user who stores documents, images and the occasional video file a solid state drive will probably suit you perfectly. If, however you are someone who has a very large collection of music, films or any other type of file that takes up lots of space on your computer, you may be forced to stick with a standard hard drive.

Cost

Cost is always a big consideration when it comes to computing and it is one that ties in closely with storage space. The more space you need, the more a hard drive will cost you but when it comes to solid state drives, the cost rises a lot faster as you increase capacity.

If you are on a tight budget, you can go for a smaller solid state drive (120GB for example) and it probably wont cost you any more than a traditional hard drive would. However, if you need a lot of storage space you will find yourself spending far more on an SSD drive than you would on a hard drive and so cost can be another important deciding factor on which type of drive suits you best.

Durability

A solid state drive is more durable than a hard drive because it has no moving parts. It is less susceptible to damage if it is dropped or subjected to any other type of shock. There are also no moving parts on a solid state drive and as such there is less that can go wrong.

The bottom line, which type of drive is better?

Whilst there are pros and cons to both drive types the bottom line is that solid state drives are better. Traditional hard drives are built on what is now very old technology and solid state drives are effectively their replacement. They are faster, more durable, they take up less space and they even look nicer.

The only time when you should go for a traditional hard drive is when you need a large amount of storage space (hard drives start to become the more viable option if you require more than 1TB of storage capacity) and you are on a limited budget.

Download more RAM. 🐏 ⨉ 0 Posted by David Silvester 8 months ago

Edit History

• [2019-01-21 8:34 PST] David Silvester (8 months ago)
• [2019-01-21 8:34 PST] August R. Garcia (8 months ago)
🕓 Posted at 21 January, 2019 08:34 AM PST
Profile Photo - David Silvester David Silvester
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Author

David Silvester

Account created 8 months ago.
6 posts, 0 comments, and 1 RAMs.

Last active 8 months ago:
Posted thread Search Engine Optimization Metrics PageRank, TFCF, PADA, URDR

Profile Photo - August R. Garcia August R. Garcia LARPing as a Sysadmi... Portland, OR
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Site Owner

This video is also a decent resource for anyone looking for more information on SSDs vs. hard drives:

Download more RAM. 🐏 ⨉ 0 Posted by August R. Garcia 8 months ago

Edit History

• [2019-01-21 8:55 PST] August R. Garcia (8 months ago)
• [2019-01-21 8:55 PST] August R. Garcia (8 months ago)
🕓 Posted at 21 January, 2019 08:55 AM PST

Sir, I can do you a nice SEO.

Profile Photo - Scuffed Dog Scuffed Dog Horse racing tipster Horseshoe Bay
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Quality User

Changing from HDD to SSD is a game changer for many people and scuffed dogs. In order to continue using my HDD, I bought an external enclosure and now I have extra 500GB free space? 

Users Who Have Downloaded More RAM:
August R. Garcia (8 months ago)
🐏 ⨉ 1
Posted by Scuffed Dog 8 months ago 🕓 Posted at 21 January, 2019 09:42 AM PST
Profile Photo - August R. Garcia August R. Garcia LARPing as a Sysadmi... Portland, OR
🗎 191 🗨 944 🐏 287
Site Owner

?

Download more RAM. 🐏 ⨉ 0 Posted by August R. Garcia 8 months ago 🕓 Posted at 21 January, 2019 18:11 PM PST

Sir, I can do you a nice SEO.

Profile Photo - August R. Garcia August R. Garcia LARPing as a Sysadmi... Portland, OR
🗎 191 🗨 944 🐏 287
Site Owner

Another note:

  • Hard drives and solid state drives generally have a lifespan of 3-10 years.

More information:

Download more RAM. 🐏 ⨉ 0 Posted by August R. Garcia 8 months ago 🕓 Posted at 29 January, 2019 16:22 PM PST

Sir, I can do you a nice SEO.

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