HDD vs. SSD: What’s the Difference

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Check HDD vs. SSD: What’s the Difference

The main difference between a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is the way data is stored and accessed. A hard drive is a traditional storage device that uses mechanically spinning platters and a moving read/write head to access data. SSDs are newer, faster drives that store data on instantly accessible memory chips. Until the late 2000s, the choice of hard drive storage when buying a new hard drive or PC was limited to size and speed, perhaps 5400 or 7200 rpm. Today, when you buy a new PC, you have a completely different set of options: you can buy one with an SSD or one with an HDD.

Difference between SSD and HDD

What is a hard drive?

A hard drive is a data storage device located inside the computer. Inside are spinning hard drives on which data is stored magnetically. The hard drive has an arm with several “heads” (transducers) that read and write data to the drive. Its operation is similar to that of a record player with a record (hard disk) and a needle on one arm (transducer). The arm moves the heads across the disk surface to access various data. HDDs are considered old technology, meaning they have been on the market longer than SSDs. They are generally less expensive and are suitable for data that does not need to be accessed frequently, such as backups of photos, videos, or business files. They are available in two common form factors: 2.5-inch (commonly used in laptops) and 3.5-inch (desktops).

What is an SSD?

SSDs are so called because they use solid state devices under the hood. With an SSD, all data is stored on integrated circuits. This difference from hard drives has many implications, most notably size and performance. Without the need for a spinning hard drive, SSDs can be shrunk to the shape and size of a chewing gum (known as an M.2 form factor) or even the size of a postage stamp. Their capacity, or the amount of data they can store, varies, making them flexible for smaller devices like slim laptops, convertibles, or 2-in-1s. SSDs also significantly reduce access time because users don’t have to wait for the disk to rotate. SSDs are more expensive per storage space (in gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB)) than HDDs, but the gap is closing as prices for SSDs are falling faster than HDDs year over year.

SSD vs. HDD: Speed

What makes SSDs an increasingly popular choice is their speed. SSDs are typically faster than HDDs because they use electrical circuitry and have no moving parts. This results in shorter boot timeouts and less delay when opening applications or performing heavy data processing tasks. The Intel SSD D5-P5316, for example, is a 15.36TB enterprise SSD with a bandwidth of over 7,000MB/s. The 14TB Seagate Exos 2×14, a supported drive, only offers up to 500MB/s bandwidth. That’s a 14x difference!1

Although no one complains that their computer is too fast, there are times when a hard drive can come in handy. If you want to store terabytes of files, HDDs are still the most cost-effective option, though that’s changing with falling SSD prices and newer NAND technologies that increase bit density per die NAND. Computing storage decisions can be simplified by thinking of data as hot or cold. “Cold” data includes, for example, years of photos you want to keep on your laptop but don’t look at every day and don’t need quick access to. Hard drives can be a great, cost-effective option for cold data. At the other end of the spectrum, if you have a business that conducts real-time transactions, edits videos and photos, and needs quick access to a database of files, video clips, or models, or even just running the operating system, we’re talking about hot data. The fast performance of SSDs makes them the ideal choice when fast access to your data is most important.

SSD vs. HDD: Endurance

The degree of write wear on a NAND SSD depends in part on the state of the data already on the drive, as data is written in pages but erased in blocks. When sequential data is written to a relatively new SSD, the data can be efficiently written to successive free pages of the drive. However, when small blocks of data need to be updated (such as when revising documents or numeric values), the old data is read into memory, revised, and then written back on a new page to the drive. The old page that contains stale data is marked invalid. When there are no more free pages available, these “invalid” pages are released for use in a background process called “defragmentation” or “wear leveling”. All existing valid pages in a given block must first be copied to other free locations on the drive so that the original block contains only stale and invalid pages. The original block can be erased to make room for new data to be written.

Internal NAND wiping processes, such as wear leveling, result in write amplification where the total internal writes to an SSD are greater than the writes required to simply store new data on the drive. Since each write slightly degrades the individual NAND cells, write amplification is one of the main causes of wear. Built-in processes help NAND SSDs distribute wear evenly across the entire drive. But the bottom line is that write-intensive workloads (especially random writes) cause NAND SSDs to wear out faster than other I/O patterns because they result in higher write amplification.

Direct comparison: SSD vs. HDD

In terms of capacity, SSDs are available for computers with capacities ranging from 120 GB to 30.72 TB, while HDDs can range from 250 GB to 20 TB. When you measure cost per capacity, HDDs come out ahead, but as SSDs come down in price, this will be less and less of a differentiator for HDDs. However, with SSDs, you can do much more work per server, which means fewer devices need to be deployed to get the same performance as HDDs. And the result? SSDs have a lower TCO (total cost of ownership).

Reliability is defined as whether the data is stored as intended, that is, in an intact state. SSDs are generally more reliable than HDDs, again due to the fact that they have no moving parts. This is because, without movement, SSDs are not affected by vibration or related thermal issues. SSDs generally consume less power and have a longer battery life because data access is much faster and the device is idle more often. With their spinning hard drives, HDDs require more power than SSDs during startup.

Final words: HDD vs. SSD: What’s the Difference

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staffhttps://www.bollyinside.com
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!

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