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HDD VS SSD, What is the Difference

Both HDDs and SSDs are used widely within the web hosting industry and for personal uses alike. Find out which one suits your needs more based on their strengths and weaknesses in today's article.

04 Feb, 21 by Susith Nonis 15 min Read

List of content you will read in this article:

SSDs (Solid State Disks) and HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) are two types of drives that are well known for their system's features and offerings. SSDs are preferred for heavier gaming systems, and HDDs are preferred for budget systems. Many systems offer HDDs and SSDs and even both of them together for better performance. 

So in this guide, we will cover complete details of the difference between HDD and SSD. This information may help you make the right choice of hard disk while buying a new laptop or a computer. We also described these factors for better understanding: 

  • Hard disk drives (traditional shard disk)
  • A solid-state drive (SSD)
  • HDD vs. SSD price
  • HDD vs. SSD capacity
  • HDD vs. SSD speed

Remember, if you have a desktop PC, then you'll be able to install both of these hard drives at once. However, it's not as flexible when it comes to laptops.

 

HDD VS SSD, What is the Difference

Usually, most desktop PCs are equipped with a traditional hard disk, which will store the operating system with all the applications and files. These are also non-volatile storage devices that don’t erase the data when the computer is turned off. HDDs contain circular disks or platters that store your data. The read-write arm will read and write data into these disks during their spinning. That’s why sometimes it’s also known as traditional spinning drives. HDDs are made up of mechanical moving parts combined with electrical circuitry.

 

History of HDD

As per history,  HDD was invented in the San Jose, California, laboratory of IBM in 1953. This invention came after considering different technologies like drums, wire matrics, drum arrays, rod arrays, etc. HDDs revolutionized the storage system in computers by offering a new level of computer data hierarchy. It was also called random access storage, but now it works as secondary storage(slower than main memory but less expensive). 

 

Applications of HDD

  • HDDs are used to save a user's data on a disk by writing all of the information on the circular platter present in the hard drive. 
  • It is a budget hard drive that offers fantastic storage space at a lesser price.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of HDD

Advantages

Disadvantages

Cost 

HDD is lesser in price because the production cost of HDD is not higher. 

Mechanical Failure 

Many users face mechanical failure in HDD due to its moving parts.

Storage Capacity 

HDD offers storage support, and it has a standard capacity of 500GB

 Noise 

The noise occurs due to the constant rotation of the disk and read or write head’s movement. 

Availability 

It is easily available in the market. 

Power Consumption 

The storage relies upon the rotations, so it consumes more power. 

Lifespan 

Flash memories handle the data in SSD, but HDD’s data directly written on a platter disk. So this disk never wears out easily and offers a useful lifespan. 

 Form Factor 

HDDs can’t be manufactured smaller due to its mechanical formation, so it is not appropriate for compact devices like laptops or tablets.

Non-Volatile 

HDD is a non-volatile component that means your data remains safe while your system runs out of power. 

Speed 

The HDD speed depends on its RPM(revolutions per minute), but it varies due to its mechanical nature. RPM of HDD also relies on the amount of data in it. 

 

As you can see in the above image, the SSD Hard Disk does not have any moving parts like the HDDs. These are the newer versions of HDDs, but they have also been around for a while now. If you have a modern laptop, you likely use an SSD.

SSDs use NAND flash memory (Negative-AND), which means that the higher the number of NAND memory chips an SSD has, the higher the storage capacity. Initially, it wasn't easy to have higher storage, but with technological advances, it's possible to have storage similar to HDDs.

Many SSDs come with SATA III ports, which can be easily replaced with HDDs. However, SATA III maximum throughput is 600MB/s, sufficient for HDDs, but SSDs can faster speed. To avoid any bottlenecks, SSDs have a PCIe connection that can be connected to the PCIe lane on the motherboard for much faster speeds.

Another increasingly common connection for SSDs is the M.2. If your laptop uses an SSD, it's most likely using an M.2 connection, and most modern desktop PCs have motherboards with an M.2 port. M.2 SSDs are typically smaller than other SSDs, which means they can be easily installed without impacting your other components. NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is the newest SSD technology and offers breakneck data transfer speeds. 

 

History of SSD

As per the history of SSD, the first flash-based SSDs or flash memory was invented in 1980 by  Fujio Masuoka at Toshiba, and it was commercialized by Toshiba in 1987. After the commercialization of SSD, it has changed a lot, and now it becomes compact and offers impressive space. 

 

Applications of SSD

  • SSDs are used to provide a high-end experience with lesser power consumption and noise. 
  • SSDs are the best option for gaming PCs because they offer excellent and fast performance, so you can go for the SSD if you can spend a higher amount for a hard drive. 
  • Many VPS hostings are shifting from HDD to SSD due to its high performance, and we also prefer to have an SSD VPS hosting instead of HDD. 

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of SSD

Advantages

Disadvantages

Durability

SSD offers exceptional durability because there are no moving parts in it.

Cost 

SSD’s price is higher than HDDs.

Low Power Consumption

Due to the mechanism, it requires low power consumption.

Data Recovery

You can’t recover the old data from the SSD. 

Better Read and Write Speed

Memory chips improve the read and write speed.

High Power

SSDs require high power because it uses DRAM technology.

Permanent Deletion of Data

Users can easily overwrite the data permanently. 

Life Expectancy

You can write data in  SSDs a limited number of times, so the life expectancy is lower. 

Lesser Noise 

The SSD doesn't have any mechanical components, so it creates less noise. 

Slower Write Speed

SSDs have slower write speed due to component related issues. 

 

As per the difference between SSD and HDD, we have created different sections that provide better information more easily. 

 

HDD vs. SSD: Price

Price is the biggest difference between SSD and HDD because SSDs are more expensive per gigabyte than traditional spinning drives. However, the prices change as per the types of different SSDs available. 

The SATA III SSDs are cheaper than the M2 and PCIe SSDs. Since the SATA III type SSDs have been around for quite some time, it’s almost the same price as the HDDs. If you want more capacity for a lower price, then you should consider having an SSD. There’s a very high chance of getting nice HDDs with high storage for quite a low price.

 

HDD vs. SSD: Common Capacity

HDDs always offer higher storage capacity as compared to SSD, so if you’re looking for a lot of space, then the best is to choose an HDD over an SSD. HDD storage ranges from 40GB up to 12TB for commercial hard drives, while there are even larger enterprise usages. You can get yourself a 2TB hard drive for a very affordable price, which is plenty to store your applications, movies, pictures, and files.

If you need to store loads of files, we recommend getting several small hard drives instead of getting a single larger hard drive. The main reason is that if the drive fails, then all your data will be gone, but if you use several HDDs, then you won’t be losing everything. 

HDDs are good for storing lots of large files, making them good for holding photos, videos, and games. In the past, SSDs were not capable of handling large capacities of data, but now, thanks to advances in technology, you can get SSDs with terabytes of storage.  The best option is to get a smaller SSD (128GB to 512GB) to store programs and to operate systems to increase the higher speed. To store files, you can use an HDD as speed is not essential in having storage.

 

HDD vs. SSD: Speed

Between the speeds of HDD and SSD, the clear winner becomes the SSD. With the new advances of technology and by removing the SATA III bottleneck, the speeds have skyrocketed. With HDD speeds, they use a spinning platter, and the speed of the drive depends on the RPM (revolutions per minute). The higher the RPM, the higher the speed of the hard disk. There are two main speeds when it comes to HDD speeds:

  • 5400 RPM
  • 7200 RPM

You can get higher-RPM drives, up to 10,000 RPM, and even higher, but these are rarer and more expensive. The official way of measuring the speeds for HDD and SSD is by measuring the MB/s for both reads (how fast the drive can read data) and write (how fast data can be written on the drive). A 5400 RPM drive speed will have around 100 MB/s (megabytes per second), and a 7200 RPM will have 150 MB/s.

Since there are no moving parts in SSDs, RPM will not affect it. An SSD with the SATA III connection will have 550 MB/s read and 520 MB/s write speeds. However, some will be faster, but the maximum speed will be 600MB/s. As you see, even with the SATA connection limitation, the SSD performs four times higher than an HDD.

Average speeds for PCIe/M.2 SSDs range from around 1.2GB/s up to around 1.4GB/s – and if you’ve got the budget, there are even some that can reach 2.2GB/s. So, you’re looking at around ten times the speed if you go for one of these SSDs. When it comes to speed and performance, SSDs are the way to go.

 

HDD vs. SSD: Reliability and Durability

As we have mentioned earlier, an SSD doesn't carry any moving part, so it offers higher reliability.  HDDs moving parts can increase the mechanical failure risks as the motion makes it sensitive to "head crash". HDDs carry magnetic storage, and these magnets can create loss or data corruption. However, SSDs have no risk of magnetic distortion. 

 

HDD vs. SSD: Form Factors

There is a physical difference between SSD and HDD because HDD has spinning platters, and SSD has memory chips. According to the size, there are three types of SSD, and they are: 

  • 2.5-inch SSD: It is best for Laptops, desktops, servers.
  • mSATA SSD:  It is best for Ultrathin laptops, mini ITX motherboards, Intel® NUC systems, and other desktops with the mSATA socket.
  • M.2 SSD: It is best for Tablets and ultrabooks.

There are two types of HDDs, and they are: 

  • Modern HDDs(3.5-inches): It is best for computers. 
  • Standard HDDs(2.5-inches): It is best for laptops 

These HDDs are connected to the system through standard interface cables like SATA (Serial ATA), PATA (Parallel ATA), USB cables.

 

HDD vs. SSD: Noise, Power, and Lifespan

HDD has a significant issue of noise and power consumption because they have mechanical components like rotating platters. This rotation in the hard drive creates vibration and problems with other components of HDD. However, SSD has lower noise and power consumption, and it can withstand vibrations.  HDD offers a good life span because all of the data gets written on the circular disks, but SSDs have ICs to store the data, providing a lesser life span. 

 

HDD vs. SSD: Storage 

Both of these hard drives offer excellent storage, but all of these vary as per the prices.  The price of a basic HDD of 500 GB is 25 dollars and 50 dollars for faster hard drive models. However, the price of a 500 GB SSD is around 60 dollars to 150 dollars, and these prices change with time.

 

HDD vs SSD: Head to Head Comparison Table

Factors 

HDD

SSD

Full Form

Hard Disk Drive

Solid State Drive

Physical Factors  

HDD requires more electricity for rotating the platters, but it generates noise and heat. 

There is no rotation required in SSD, so it requires lesser power and doesn't create noise and heat. 

Speed

It offers higher latency and longer read or write times with lesser IOP(input-output operations per second).

It offers lesser latency, faster read/write, supporting more IOPs as compared to HDD. 

Components

It has moving parts such as a motor-driven spindle holding flat circular disks. These disks are coated with the magnetic material's thin layer.  Read-and-write heads are present at the top of the disks, and all of these components are encased by a metal case.

SSD doesn't have any moving parts but has memory chips connected with different ICs.  It has essential components like a capacitor, controller, and cache. 

Defragmentation

Fragmentation makes HDD drives weaker, so defragmented is needed. 

Fragmentation doesn't create any impacts on SSD.  

Weight

It is heavier as compared to an SSD. 

It is lighter because there are no rotating disks. 

Vibration

HDD has moving parts, so it creates vibration. This vibration can damage its parts. 

An SSD can carry the vibration of more than 2000Hz, and it is higher than HDD. 

 

Both of these hard drives offer multiple benefits, so if you want a budget hard drive with a higher life span, you can go for HDD. Remember, HDD will not offer amazing performance for gaming.  In case you have a good budget and need fantastic performance, you can go for an SSD because it offers higher speed and lower power consumption. It is up to the user because both HDD and SSD have their advantages and disadvantages, so we prefer to choose wisely.  Nowadays, many people use RAID storage to have more options apart from a single SSD or HDD. 

 

Considering the multiple factors and absolute difference between HDD and SSD, you have an idea, but before getting any product, it's always better to check the reviews from real users. When it comes to laptops, it's better to choose an SSD because:

  • It doesn't have any moving parts and offers more robustness.
  • SSDs uses less power compared to HDDs

However, HDDs are a better choice when it comes to storing large amounts of data. As we mentioned above, the best option would be to get a small HDD for OS and applications and then get an HDD to store the files. 

Susith Nonis

I'm fascinated by the IT world and how the 1's and 0's work. While I veture into the world of Technology I try to share what I know in the simplest way possible. Not a fan of coffee, a sweet addict and a self accredited 'master chef'.