Should you be opting for a solid-state drive (SSD) or a hard disk drive (HDD)?
They both do the same thing – storing data so you can save your documents and install operating systems and applications – but in different ways.
To help you decide whether to remain a traditionalist and stick with the HDD or embrace the new kid, SSD here is a bit more information.
What is an HDD?
HDDs have been around forever; well, at least since the early days of computing. Although technological evolution has brought with it a few changes, an HDD still works in the same was as it always has. They use a magnetic head moved by a mechanical arm to read and write data on one or more storage platters.
What is an SSD?
An SSD is a storage device that reads and records data on flash memory, a medium that uses transistors to represent the ones and zeros that make up digital information.
They have been around for decades but didn’t become commonplace until the early 2000s, when prices came down to affordable levels for the masses, and the technology grew more mature.
What are the benefits of SSDs?
The thing that sets them apart from HHDs is that they have no moving parts, which means they are:
- Faster – SSDs don’t have a moving arm to slow them down. That makes them faster at things like random read/writes (about 200 times faster), data access times (about 100 times faster), and even sequential read/writes (about 5 times faster), which significantly improves overall system performance
- Energy efficient – SSDs consume less power because they don’t need cooling. Mind you; the difference isn’t as big as it was because HDDs continuously improve their efficiency and SSDs do more internal housekeeping
- More durable – thanks to the lack of moving parts, SSDs are better able to operate in harsh environments, where they are more resistant to shock, vibrations, and high temperatures
Therefore, SSDs are an excellent choice for high-performance users and their laptops, as well as for application servers with demanding I/O requirements.
Are there any downsides to SSDs?
SSDs don’t last forever; after you’ve overwritten a block enough times, it will wear out.
Some early SSDs had the reputation of giving up the ghost without warning, but since 2012 consumer SSDs have become far more reliable. Even though we don’t have to worry about SSD reliability as much as before, as of 2016 the price per GB is still high compared to spinning hard disks.
What about consumer vs. enterprise SSDs?
Enterprise SSDs are expensive, but because they use more durable single-level cell (SLC) technology that can last longer than the more consumer-oriented multi-level cell (MLC) and triple-level cell (TLC) flash technologies – that’s not surprising.
You’ll also find that enterprise drives have a much higher terabytes written (TBW) limit, rating companies give to their drives to indicate how much data you can expect to write to them before you start experiencing trouble.
Now for the big question – should you buy an SSD?
Right now SSDs are at the point where their reliability is excellent, and prices are finally within reach for many users, even if the price per capacity is still a bit high for some. So yes, now would be a superb time to invest in an SSD.