Most people now buy laptops for their computing needs and have to make the decision between getting either a Solid State Drive (SSD) or Hard Disk Drive (HDD) as the storage component. So which of the two is the better choice, an SSD or HDD? There’s no straight-forward answer to this question; each buyer has different needs and you have to evaluate the decision based on those needs, your preferences, and of course budget.
What is an HDD?
Hard Disk Drives were first introduced by IBM in 1956. An HDD uses magnetism to store data on a rotating platter. A read/write head floats above the spinning platter reading and writing data. The faster the platter spins, the faster an HDD can perform. The major advantage of an HDD is that it is capable of storing lots of data cheaply.
What is an SSD?
To begin, SSD stands for Solid State Drive. You’re probably familiar with USB memory sticks – SSD can be thought of as an oversized and more sophisticated version of the humble USB memory stick. Like a memory stick, there are no moving parts to an SSD. Rather, information is stored in microchips. Conversely, a hard disk drive uses a mechanical arm with a read/write head to move around and read information from the right location on a storage platter. This difference is what makes SSD so much faster.
A typical SSD uses what is called NAND-based flash memory. This is a non-volatile type of memory. What does non-volatile mean you ask? The simple answer is that you can turn off the disk and it won’t “forget” what was stored on it. This is of course an essential characteristic of any type of permanent memory. An SSD does not have a mechanical arm to read and write data, it instead relies on an embedded processor (or “brain”) called a controller to perform a bunch of operations related to reading and writing data. The controller is a very important factor in determining the speed of the SSD.
An HDD might be the right choice if:
- You need lots of storage capacity, up to 10TB
- Don’t want to spend much money
- Don’t care too much about how fast a computer boots up or opens programs.
An SSD might be the right choice if:
- You are willing to pay for faster performance
- Don’t mind limited storage capacity or can work around that (though consumer SSD now go up to 4TB and enterprise run as high as 60TB)