HDD or SSD – what’s right for you
When it comes to data storage media, should you go with the tried and tested or… the new (though actually, by now, pretty old) kid on the block?
SSDs may utilise newer technology than hard disk drives – with many assuming they’re superior as a result – but each have their own advantages and drawbacks. So, the one that’s right for you will differ depending on how you’re likely to use it and which features you value most.
So, here’s a list of things that anyone looking to purchase a new piece of storage media should consider coupled with a summary of how SSDs and HDDs compare:
Like Usain Bolt in every single race he’s ever been involved in, this one was always going to be a foregone conclusion: SSDs win hands down.
Hard drives use moving parts to read and write data making them slower than SSDs. Basically, if you’re using an SSD, you’ll find that your machine boots up more rapidly, your files load more quickly and saving data takes no time at all.
Don’t go thinking this is like comparing a cheetah to a sloth, though. SSDs are definitely faster but HDDs still save and retrieve data quickly enough and the difference is unlikely to be noticed by anyone other than users that push their devices to the absolute limit.
Verdict: SSDs are definitely faster than SSDs but you’ll only really notice the difference if you’re using your device to play games or other powerful programmes.
Just as the result of the speed round was a cast-iron certainty, so too is this one. As far as value-for-money is concerned, HDDs easily outdo SSDs by offering huge capacities for very little outlay.
You can, for example, pick up a hard drive capable of storing 4TBs of data for less than £80. Spend a similar amount on an SSD and you’ll get a device with a capacity of around 120GBs, whilst a 4TB SSD would cost you upwards of £500.
Winner: HDDs offer considerably greater value for money than storage devices using flash-technology.
Both HDDs and SSDs have limited lifespans, but for different reasons. HDDs are mechanical and their moving parts degrade over time. SSDs instead store their data in cells which, after they’ve had data written onto them a set period of times, will cease to function.
The key difference here is that it’s actually possible to determine when an SSD will fail by analysing how it’s being used. As far as HDDs go, this can only be estimated.
Whilst this may make it appear that HDDs will have a longer lifespan, it’s important to note that both devices are robust and should comfortably last for several years before they fail provided they aren’t used excessively.
Verdict: it’s a draw this time
Neither SSDs or HDDs are immune to failure and both are, to be completely honest, reliable devices. They are, however, also prone to the same problems.
Power surges, physical trauma and human error are the most common reasons for data loss and these affect all types of storage media. With HDDs, though, there is one exception: head crashes.
A head crash occurs when the read/write head of a hard drive comes into contact with its platters. Platters are basically disks coated in thin layer of metal and it is within this metal that data is stored. The head is supposed to be positioned just above the platters so, when it comes into contact with them, it damages their coating resulting in data loss.
Verdict: as they can’t suffer a head crash, SSDs just edge it here.
Ok, for most people this will not be a concern but the whirring sound that emanates from HDDs can, I know first-hand, irritate some people.
Plus, silence is taken to be a sign of luxury by some (think Rolls Royce making sure their car’s cabins are as quiet as possible) so we felt like it was worth adding that SSDs, thanks to their lack of moving parts, produce no sound whatsoever.
Verdict: it’s a clear win for the SSD.
The SSD edges its rival on performance and reliability and also produces no sound. HDDs, on the other hand, offer far more storage space for a lot less money.
Ultimately, it boils down to what you want from your storage media. If you want value-for-money, choose an HDD. Alternatively, if you care about performance, you need an SSD.
On the plus side, whichever device you choose, you know Fields Data Recovery will always be able to help if either fail!