Computers come with many parts, and each of those parts presents additional options to computer buyers. It’s not always clear exactly which of those components are important and what they do.

One of the most important components is the hard drive. This is a storage device without which no computer can run. This is where documents, files, pictures, applications, and the computer’s operating system lives. Computers work by reading and writing data to and from these drives.

Hard drives typically come with a few different options. One of the most important distinctions that customers need to make between today’s hard drive options is the difference between hard disk drives and solid-state drives.

SSD vs HDD: The Right Drive

People planning on buying a computer or outfitting their office with new computers should make the decision between buying a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD) one of the first steps in the buying process. This is because the decision will affect higher-level factors such as lifespan, durability, and overall value over time.

What Is an HDD?

Technology giant IBM first introduced the hard disk drive in 1956. It works by using magnets to store data on a rotating metal platter. This data is accessed with the help of a mechanical arm.

The speed of the platter decides the speed of reading and writing to the disk. Most computers today offer a speed of 5,400 RPM but faster models are also available – heavy-duty servers can offer speeds of up to 15,000 RPM.

As a mature technology that has gone through more than half a century of development, HDDs are reliable and inexpensive. Most of the opportunities to engineer efficiencies into the design of HDDs have already been explored. There is very little else that a manufacturer can do to make future HDDs better than they are now.

The benefits of HDD technology include reliability and affordability. HDDs are the drives of choice for users who need large amounts of low-cost storage space. They are not very fast, and they aren’t very durable – even a small physical shock can dislodge the mechanical arm or rearrange data on the surface of the disk.

What Is an SSD?

The solid-state drive is superficially similar to USB flash storage but offers more reliable performance and a lot more storage capacity. SanDisk introduced the first SSD in 1991. This SSD only had 20 MB of space and cost $1,000.

It has no moving parts and all the data is stored safely in memory chips. The benefit of SSD technology is that the drive can work faster than a hard disk. There is no need for a mechanical arm to find, read, and write data.

Solid-state technology offers non-volatile memory. This allows the disk to maintain its record of data even after being shut down. The data stored on an SSD stays on it permanently until deleted, or until the memory cells break down.

You don’t have to worry about your SSD’s memory cells quitting on you after a few years though. The best estimates for SSD longevity put most of them in the 50-80+ year bracket. However, if you expect to archive data for longer than that for any reason, HDDs can technically hold onto data forever.

An SSD appears quite like an HDD and is usually the same in size as well. Mini SDD drives are also available on the market – these are sized for laptop computers. Both HDDs and SDDs use industry-standard SATA connectors, so users generally don’t have to worry about compatibility.

SSD vs. HDD: A Comparison

Both SSDs and HDDs have their benefits and drawbacks. When determining which to incorporate into your ideal office equipment setup, consider the following:

  • Battery Life. Since they feature no moving parts, SSDs use less electricity than HDDs. All modern mobile devices and smartphones use SSDs for this reason.
  • Cost. For the same amount of storage space, SSDs are more expensive than HDDs.
  • Storage Size. High-volume SSDs are much more expensive than ones that offer smaller storage space. HDDs largely offer the same price per gigabyte all the way through the spectrum.
  • Boot Up Time. HDDs can take up a full minute to boot up, whereas SSDs can finish booting up in mere seconds.
  • Noise. HDDs feature spinning metal parts and a reading arm constantly in motion. This creates noise that is absent in SSDs.
  • Lifespan. When it comes to SSD vs HDD lifespan, disks can technically hold data longer than SSDs, but everyday use will wear out the average HDD long before an SSD needs replacement.
  • Damage Risks. HDDs are more susceptible to damage from physical shock than SSDs. Magnetic fields will ruin HDDs and irrecoverably destroy any data on them.

Choose the Best Drive for Your System

Although solid-state technology is the newer of the two, technological progress doesn’t necessarily always go in a straight line. There are applications for which an HDD is far better suited to the task than an SSD.

In general, retail electronics and internet servers rely on SSD technology because most commercial users value speed above almost everything else. However, a library or a government institution that needs to archive an enormous amount of data and keep it intact long-term – potentially for centuries – would never choose an SSD for the job.

AISink provides its customers with a wide selection of HDD and SDD products built by some of the tech industry’s most reputable manufacturers. Browse through our selection today!