The best SSDs are much faster than their equivalents HDDs, and while they are losing ground when it comes to overall storage size, their prices aren't so different these days as to warrant the choice of a hard drive. Still, there are diverse opinions, so we decided to confrontSSD vs. HDD so you can decide which one suits you best.
Solid state drives or SSDs (solid-state drives), and hard drives or HDDs (hard-disk drives), They are the two main storage solutions available to consumers, and both have their benefits. Each of them is specialized to better perform different tasks, but if any expert is asked to select one over the other for a main system, the recommendation would be clear: the battle of SSD against HDD was won long ago..
It is not difficult to find traditional hard drives with several terabytes of storage, and they are getting bigger without an excessive increase in cost for the consumer. In contrast, SSDs tend to be much smaller and prohibitively expensive at more than 2TB.
However, when it comes to storage space, hard drives have a distinct advantage and probably will for the foreseeable future. If you want to save something long-term or store large files and folders, hard drives are the way to go, but that's one of the only areas where hard drives still prevail.
Speed, form factor and durability
Drive speed is primarily focused on how fast data can be read and written. For hard drives, the speed at which the drives spin helps determine read and write times. When accessing a file, the "read" part of the read / write head signals the positioning of the magnetic sections as it flies over the turntables. As long as the file being read has been written sequentially, the hard drive will read it quickly. However, as the disk fills up with data, it is easy for a file to be written into multiple sections. This is called “fragmentation” and it makes files take longer to read.With SSDs, fragmentation is not an issue. Files can be written fragmented across cells, and are in fact designed to do so with little impact on read times, since each cell is accessed simultaneously. This easy and simultaneous access to each cell means that files are read at incredibly fast speeds, much faster than a hard drive can achieve, regardless of fragmentation. This is why SSDs can make a system feel agile, due to its ability to access data across the disk, which is known as random access, which is much faster.
However, this faster reading speed comes with a disadvantage. SSD cells can wear out over time. They push electrons through a portal to establish their content, which wears out the cell and, over time, reduces its performance until the SSD generally wears out as well. That being said, the time it will take for this to happen for most users is quite long, and an SSD will likely need to be updated because it is already outdated, or because it needs to have more storage space, before a normal SSD fails. There are also technologies like TRIM that help prevent SSDs from degrading too quickly.
Hard drives, on the other hand, are much more vulnerable to physical damage due to their use of mechanical parts. If a laptop with an HDD were to fall, there is a high probability that all of those moving parts would collide with each other, resulting in possible data loss and even destructive physical damage that could destroy the HDD. SSDs have no moving parts, so they can better survive the bumps, falls, or accidents that generally occur with our devices and laptops.
Another thing to consider is the form factor of these devices. The hard drives for desktop computers are 3.5 inches and 2.5 inches for notebook computers. For their part, SSD drives are expanding to a variety of shapes and sizes. The most common style of SSD is still the 2.5-inch disk, but smaller SSDs based on form factors like M.2 and PCIe are also becoming increasingly common. True, they are more expensive than their SATA III peers, but they are much smaller and offer more and more of the fastest storage speeds available.
Although prices have been falling for years, SSDs are even more expensive per gigabyte than hard drives. For similar amounts of storage, you could end up paying almost double for an SSD than an HDD, and even more at higher capacities.
However, while you pay higher prices for less space with an SSD, you're investing in faster, more efficient, and much more durable data storage overall. If you are building a system with speed, power needs or portability in mind, then an SSD will be the best option. On most desktops, adding another hard drive is easy and inexpensive, making it a good upgrade in the future if you need more storage space. Having a separate data drive also allows you to update or reinstall your operating system with minimal effort.As SSD prices drop, we are finding fewer reasons to go for HDDs on most systems. For $ 80, you can find reliable brand 500GB SSDs, just $ 30 more than the average 1TB hard drive. That means for just $ 30 dollars apart, even casual users will notice a dramatic improvement in terms of boot time, data access, and overall system speed. Newly released systems are expected to include an SSD, or at least a hybrid drive.
Hybrids, external and final considerations
Hybrid drives offer a midpoint between the benefits of SSDs and HDDs, and combine both drives into one device. Of course, there are a couple of different versions of this type of technology.
First, there are SSHDs or Solid State Hybrid Drives. These are full-size hard drives (often around 1 or 2 terabytes) that come equipped with an extra cache of SSD NAND memory (usually worth a few GB). SSHDs work by learning the files you use most often, and writes them to the Quick Access SSD memory section. All other files are stored on the HDD's rotating disk. While an SSHD won't give you the durability or lower power consumption of an SSD, it should offer a noticeable increase in the speed of certain processes.
You can find SSHD drives that fit a 2.5-inch slot, as well as 3.5-inch options. In addition to these two hybrids (good options for those with room for a single unit), you can also choose to purchase several separate units, depending on your configuration and available mounting space.
If you're running an AMD Ryzen system with an X399, B450, or X499 motherboard, you can take advantage of AMD's StoreMI technology to combine either of the two units together. Usually this would be a small SSD and a larger HDD, although you can use any combination you like to create your own hybrid drive. Another option is Intel's Optane memory, which acts as a small storage unit, cached and on its own.
There is also the option of using a drive as an external storage device. There are drives made specifically for that purpose: virtually any drive that can be mounted on a PC can be inserted into an external enclosure kit and connected to a PC via USB. The device will function as a normal drive will, but you can take it with you and access your files stored on any PC or laptop.
As the storage landscape changes rapidly, SSDs are becoming much more prevalent than hard drives. We do not recommend buying a system that only has a hard drive, since you will miss a much more agile PC use experience. The price difference will be worth it, if any, and the result is noticeable every time you turn it on.
* Updated by Jos Luis Plascencia on March 18, 2020.