Data Storage 101 – Solid State Drive versus Hard Disk Drive

Between SSD vs HDD, which one wins? Most types of personal computers have used HDDs or hard disk drives as storage devices until quite recently. Now, HDDs aren’t the only choice. SSDs or solid state drives have been in use since the 1970s, but it was only in the early 2000s when it had the market for consumers and it was in 2006 when it became a billion dollar industry.

What’s the difference?

The main difference between these two storage options lies in the way they write the data into memory. HDD storage can be considered mechanical in nature since it uses a mechanical arm or head to read or write to a storage disk called a storage platter. SSD storage, on the other hand, makes use of a technology similar to that of a USB flashdrive, which means that there are no moving parts to a solid state drive and thus, its name.


HDDs are a lot cheaper than SSDs, with price ranging from $60-$100 and from $350-$600 respectively. And because SSDs are relatively new in the market, it will be years before their price ranges level down with the HDDs. Someone who’s looking for a budget laptop will not even consider getting hard drives worth as much as the unit itself.

Maximum Capacity

At the time of writing, the maximum capacity of SSDs is 1TB, and this much space on an SSD isn’t even common. SSDs usually only get 128GB of storage space and by pushing your luck, you can find one that can hold 500GB. An HDD’s maximum capacity tops out at 4TB. Most budget notebooks in the market use HDDs and they easily have 500GB of storage space. Still, many of these budget versions come with 1TB.

Speed and Fragmentation

Between SSD vs HDD, SSD wins hands down in both speed and fragmentation. Some SSDs boast of speeds up to 500MB/s during data read and write while a common HDD’s top speeds are in the range of 50-120MB/s. An HD movie that takes up 4GB of space can be transferred to and from an SSD in a matter of less than 10 seconds, while an HDD may take at least 34 seconds to process the same file. PCs that use SSDs can boot up in less than 60 seconds.

An HDD that has been written on for years without defragmentation will definitely perform slower than an SSD. When a larger file is stored on an HDD, there is a chance over time that the file’s data can be cluttered around the storage disk. This is called fragmentation, and there is almost always a need to defragment the hard drive despite the advancements in hard drive technology. An SSD does not need to be defragmented, as all data stored in them are stored in microchips.

Availability and Form Factors

A quick search over the web can immediately prove that HDDs are a lot easier to find than SSDs. Fewer manufacturers offer the latter. An HDD isn’t the only choice, but it is still the more practical and thus, the more popular choice for many.

Most SSDs today are made to look like HDDs in the sense that the connections to and from the SSD will remain the same as in the HDD. This way, users can easily upgrade into them without much problem. SSDs will continue to shrink in size since their current sizes are only for practical reasons. They do not need that much space, but existing connections will not allow sizes that are smaller.

Their physical appearances are far from one another. Usually, an HDD is heavy and encased in metal, while an SSD is a lot lighter and encased in metal or plastic.


On Laptops or Netbooks,Longer battery life is another edge an SDD has over its competition. The absence of the mechanical component will result in less power draw, giving the unit a slight boost in battery life.

Noise, Vibration and Safety from Magnetism

Because of the presence of the mechanical head, an SSD will not be susceptible to data loss or unit breakage due to dropping or too much movement. No noise and vibration will be present in units that make use of HDDs. Also, these units may suffer from data loss and corruption caused by magnets. These aren’t problems you deal with when using SSDs.

What wins?

Between SSD vs HDD, the winner is whatever your preferences are inclined to. HDDs are perfect for those working within a budget and don’t care much for speed, but have great needs for large storage spaces. In contrast, SSDs are perfect for those who are willing to pay for faster speeds and not concerned too much about storage space. However, you should also put into consideration that SSDs are currently being developed, whereas HDDs have remained unchanged for quite some time now.

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