Data Storage: SSD vs. HDD
Until recently, most computer owners had no reason to think about the primary data storage their PC used. Most computers stored data on their hard disk drives (HDD). But now there are choices; data can also be stored on a solid state drive (SSD). Knowing what SSD means and how it differs from HDD has never been more important.
What is SSD?
SSD is an acronym for solid state drive, and is a type of computer storage. While SSD technology has been around for many years, it hasn't been until recently that consumers have been given the option of using SSD as their primary form of storage.
Unlike other forms of computer storage, SSD, which is often compared to an oversized USB memory stick, has no moving parts and instead operates by storing data on flash memory microchips. The memory is considered non-volatile in that the memory is not dependent on a power source. When the power is turned off, the data stays where it is, rather than being forgotten. With no moving parts, SSD are considered faster than other forms of data storage and more reliable.
In terms of speed, some SSD drives are 50 times as fast as other types of information storage. SSDs also use significantly less power than other forms of storage, and are more durable and efficient. The cost of an SSD has in the past prevented many consumers from making it their storage of choice. However, as SSD prices drop, their popularity among PC users is rapidly increasing.
What are the differences between SSD and HDD?
Traditionally, the most common form of data storage has been HDD, or hard disk drives. An HDD is made of a metal platter with a magnetic coating on top that stores the data. In order to access the data, an HDD uses a read/write head to access the data. The faster the platter spins, the faster the information can be accessed.
An SSD is faster than a traditional HDD because it doesn't require the added time it takes for a read/write head to call up the data. In addition, an HDD uses much more power than an SDD. All of the HDD's moving parts require power, which in the long run can end up being problematic for laptop computer users. Since a laptop only has a limited amount of power when not plugged in, the constant use of power by an HDD will result in laptop owners spending more time than they would like recharging their unit.
While SSDs are faster and more reliable, HDDs are able to store more data at a cheaper cost. While the price of SSDs has dropped, it remains one of the major reasons more computer users haven't switched to an SSD. Computer users can expect to pay about 10 cents per gigabyte (GB) of storage for an HDD, compared to between 90 cents and $1.75 per GB for an SSD. The amount of available data storage is also a reason many users are sticking with an HDD. The average HDD can hold between two and four times as much data as a typical SSD.
Which is right for you?
While many experts are anticipating SSDs becoming the norm, until then it is up to each user to determine which type of storage will best suit their needs. Among the factors they need to weigh when choosing between and HDD and SSD are how much storage capacity is needed, how much they're willing to spend and how fast the computer needs to be. Those who need more storage and don't care as much about speed are better suited for an HDD, while those who care about how fast the computer runs and are willing to pay a premium for it should consider an SSD.