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HDD vs. SSD Drives: How To Decide Which Option Is Best For Your Business

Has your hard drive begun slowing down because it's filling up? While buying a new laptop or PC is always an exciting affair, it's a little on the higher side, money-wise. An easier and cheaper alternative would be to give your machine a hardware upgrade.

When researching ways to improve your storage capabilities, you'll likely encounter the traditional hard disk drive or the more modern SSD; however, what are they, and which technology best suits your needs?

We'll compare the two technologies, assess what each is good at, and highlight where the other works better. Before going into each's performance parameters, we need first to have a clear understanding of what an HDD and an SSD are.

What's an HDD?

A hard disk drive is a data storage unit that's housed inside your computer. It uses spinning disks to store your data magnetically. Reading and writing data on the disk is possible because of the HDD's arm's transducers. If you're finding it hard picturing its MO, look at how a turntable record player works.

The needle on the turntable record player's arm can be compared to the transducers and the LP record to the hard disk. As all these parts are mechanical, the hard disk remains the slowest component of your computer and the most delicate.

Older HDDs used an IDE port to link to the PC's motherboard. The more modern drives utilize a SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) connection. The fastest possible data transfers for HDDs use SATA's newest version – SATA III. It is found on most modern motherboards.

While they were something to write home about in the late 2000s, today, they're considered a legacy technology. They're available in two form factors: the 3.5-inch used for desktop computers and the 2.5-inch used in laptops.

What's an SSD?

The solid-state drive got its name because of what's hiding under the hood. Unlike the moving parts used in HDDs, SSDs use purely solid-state devices. All the data is stored in ICs (integrated circuits). This difference in operations means a lot when it comes to size and performance.

Without incorporating a spinning disk into the hardware, it's not uncommon to find SSDs the size of a stick of gum (the M.2 form factor). They store your data on NAND flash memory consisting of memory cells that store bits in a way that's instantly retrievable by the controller.

It's quite common to find SSDs with SATA III ports. It makes it easier to install them in place of HDDs. Additionally, a lot SSDs have the 2.5-inch format common with smaller hard drives. The SATA III's maximum information throughput is 600 MB/s. This is decent for HDDs; however, the SATA connection actually holds this device back because the SSD is capable of faster operation.

Having PCIe connections on the SSD was the easiest way to eradicate this bottleneck. Such drives can slot into a motherboard's PCIe lane achieving greater speeds. It's worth noting that Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) is a new advancement in the SSD scene that offers eye-watering transfer speeds.

HDD vs. SSD: Capacity

This is the first consideration many people have when choosing between the two storage media. The rule of thumb here is, get an HDD if a lot of space is what you need.

There's a lot of range in capacity for commercial hard drives, thus offering the right amount of capacity per different users' needs. They can range from 40 GB to 12 TB. A 2 TB HDD will offer you sufficient space to hold plenty of information while still being affordable.

The 8 TB to 12 TB range offers the best value when used for Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices and servers – in these applications, you need adequate storage space for backups. HDDs are suitable for storing multiple large files and thus are good for storing videos, photos, and games.

A few years ago, getting generous levels of storage from your SSDs was unheard of; today, you can get terabytes worth of solid-state storage. However, it won't come cheap; large-capacity SSDs still go at a premium.

While both of these technologies have their pros and cons, the real winners are those who use each's strength to counter the weaknesses. A large capacity SSD is pricey, and so it's better to use the HDD when storing files in bulk. The smaller (and less expensive) SDD can be acquired for its speed of operation. A 160 GB – 256 GB one can hold software like your OS, for which higher speed is essential.

It's advisable to have several smaller drives as compared to a single massive one. At least, with a couple of HDDs, if one drive fails for some reason, you won't lose all your files.

HDD vs. SSD: Speed

The difference in speed between SSDs and HDDs isn't a gap; it's a canyon. It's seen across all areas but is more pronounced when carrying out certain tasks. These include:

Sequential R/W (read/write) operations

The difference in speed between these two devices is most visible when moving and copying large files, like movies. An old-school HDD has a copying frequency of around 30 MB/s – 150 MB/s.

This similar action will proceed at 500 MB/s on a typical SSD and highs of 3,000 MB/s – 3,500 MB/s on the newer NVME SSD. While it'll take you at least two minutes to copy a 20 GB movie with an HDD, it'll take you about 10 seconds with an SSD.

Tiny '4K' R/W operations

You might not know this, but every time you run macOS or Windows to go online or open programs, you're accessing and manipulating thousands of tiny files stored in small data blocks (usually sized at 4K).

Generally, the faster you can R/W these 4K blocks, the faster your system becomes. For HDDs, this speed is around 1.7 MB/s. When it comes to SSDs and NVME SSDs, this 4K R/W speed usually is between 50 MB/s and 250 MB/s.

HDD vs. SSD: Price

The SSD is more expensive than the HDD per gigabyte of storage space. So, if what you seek is more capacity while spending little, then go the HDD route. A 500 GB HDD will cost anywhere between $25 and $50, while for an SSD of the same capacity, you'll have to part with anywhere from $60 to $150.

This affordability can be attributed to the manufacturing process for HDDs being cheaper than that of solid-state drives. You can get some meager prices for HDDs, but always read user reviews or peruse reports to check their reliability.

When it comes to SSDs, remember not all of them are built equal. There are devices more expensive than others. As you'd expect, M2 and PCIe SSDs cost more than the much older SATA III SSDs, because of the contemporary technology the former use. The more familiar SATA III SSDs have units that aren't that much costlier than some HDDs.

Conclusion

If you want to meet your company's needs adequately, a hybrid storage system consisting of both HDDs and SSDs will work best. It'll combine the high-performance, high-durability, and high-cost SSD with a high-capacity, less writer-intensive, and cheaper HDD option.

An internal assessment can help determine what your cold data and hot data are, and then storage can be allocated accordingly. However, having a professional over to check your system out will definitely boost your business's efficiency. Velocity IT is your reliable Dallas-based IT solutions provider. We provide complete end-to-end IT support and will handle all your technological needs.

Contact us today to learn more about the services we provide!

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