Desktops, Laptops and Server machines all use some form of storage in order to store Operating Systems, Personal Data, Software Applications and more. If your machine is running slow, or your looking to upgrade your machine for some extra speed, how do you know whether to choose an Solid State Drive (SSD) or a standard Hard Disk Drive(HDD) for the best performance?
Standard HDDs are based on magnetic spinning platters with moving heads that read and write data to these spinning platters or disks. These spinning platters or disks are circular meaning that data at the centre is slower to access then data store on the outer edge. The moving parts in an HDD makes it vulnerable and prone to mechanical failures from various conditions such as vibration, temperature and shock. The standard HDD technology has been in use since the mid 1950’s and still remains a prominent storage solution today.
Unlike HDDs with its circular platters or disks, an SSD is far less prone to failures because it has no moving or mechanical parts and platters or disks to write to. Due to this an SSD is also not heavily impacted by Disk Fragmentation which is the process of data being rearranged on the platters or disks in the drive. Over time, the fragmentation of files on an HDD causes a performance loss when accessing data, launching applications or even starting up the system. With an SSD, the data storage location doesn’t matter due to all areas of the SSD are accessed at the same speed.
What about speed?
When it comes to gauging and comparing drive speeds there are a lot of factors and conditions to judge the results on such as the brand, the machines hardware specifications, running applications and more. For example; on a standard HDD, copying a large file such as a movie or graphic design project, happens at a relatively slow rate of 15 – 30 MB/s while a SSD can copy the same file at 500 MB/s. With an SSD a machine can boot and be ready to launch applications in under 10 seconds, however an HDD can take anywhere from 3 minutes to boot and be ready to use.
The key difference is in how an SSD is engineered compared to an HDD. Like a USB Flash Drive, SSD’s use non-volatile storage technology known as NAND Flash which has no moving parts and does not require power to store data even when the storage device is turned off.
At the end of the day if you are looking for increased performance and speed, an SSD is the dominant choice and is a no brainer. However, if you are looking to store terabytes of general data such as data that does not get accessed often, then traditional HDDs are the better choice.