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HDDs vs SSDs: Which is the best choice?

May 17, 2021

If you’re buying a new storage device for your files, photos, and videos then you’re probably wondering whether as SSD or HDD is better for your needs. We’re experienced data recovery technicians, so we’ve seen the best and worst of both. We’ve put together this handy guide to help you compare the two options and make the right choice.

HDDs vs SSDs – A Comparison

The first thing to realise is that hard disk drives (HDDs) and Solid-State Drives (SSDs) both use different technology to store digital files. A hard drive contains physical disks that spin, with a drive head moving across the surface of the disks to locate files.

An SSD, on the other hand, has no physical spinning disks. Instead, it stores data within integrated circuit boards meaning that it has no moving parts whatsoever.

Due to its lack of moving parts, an SSD can be installed inside a variety of portable devices such as phones and tablets without interfering with their operation.

Physical differences aside, what does this mean for you?

We’ve compared hard drives vs Solid State Drives in 5 main areas:

  • Reliability
  • Performance
  • Durability
  • Cost
  • Durability

Hard Drives vs. SSDs: Which is the most reliable?

Whether you’re looking at hard drives or solid-state drives (SSDs), the debate rages on as to which storage solution is fastest.

There are pros and cons to both HDDs and SSDs, including cost, data reliability and monitoring. We’ll be comparing all of these factors in this article to help you determine whether a Hard Drive or Solid State Drive is the most suitable for your files, photos and other data.

Read on for more information on how SSDs compares to traditional spinning media drives.

HDDs vs SSDs: Speed and Performance

SSDs are the clear winner here when it comes to speed and performance. A Hard Drive needs to work harder, with a physical drive head searching the surface of disks for the sector containing the fragmented pieces of files.

Have you ever heard a scratching noise coming from your computer? This is the sound of the hard drive physically searching for your files!

SSDs on the other hand, do not have physical moving parts. This means that they can locate and launch files or applications much faster than a hard drive can.

However, this functionality comes with a sacrifice. SSDs normally have a lot less physical storage space than their mechanical cousins. SSDs are ideal for launching desktop applications or your Operating System. Windows 10 has ‘fast boot’ which is only possible thanks to the sheer speed of SSDs.

Games and other high-performance applications are often best suited for SSDs, as the read/write speed is much faster, causing less input lag and frustrating delays.

Infrequently opened files, documents and personal documents that don’t need such lightning-fast access are better suited on a hard drive due to the lower price point, making them ideal for storing large files and folders.

Speed and Performance Winner: Solid State Drives

HDDs vs SSDs: Durability

Hard Drives are mechanical whereas SSDs are not. This alone means that SSDs are more modern as they can be used inside a wide range of devices due to their silent operation and smaller physical size.

Traditional mechanical hard drives wouldn’t be suitable for many modern portable devices.

Hard drives are much less portable due to the risk of shock or damage. Even though hard drives are physically larger, they’re also much more sensitive.

Before solid state drivers, users of portable hard drives had to be very careful when carrying drives around to ensure they don’t get knocked or damaged in transit.

SSDs are much more durable, they can withstand accidental knocks, drops and harsh environments, whereas hard drives cannot. However, SSDs are susceptible to damage like all other electrical components.

Infrastructure & Technology Winner: Solid State Drives

Related: Why do Hard Drives fail?

HDDs vs SSDs: Cost and affordability

Quite simply, a Hard Drive is much less expensive per GB than a Solid State Drive. It’s possible to pick up 2TB Hard Drives on Amazon for under £100, whereas a 2TB SSD would set you back anywhere from £400-600.

Most Solid State Drives inside laptops are 256GB or 512GB, intended mostly for storing programmes, software and applications as well as files and documents. Modern consumers make use of cloud storage solutions for photographs, so storage space isn’t a huge factor in pre-built laptops these days. External drives (hard drives or SSDs) are also available for laptop owners who require extra file storage.

Cost may well be a big deciding factor for you when deciding whether to buy a new Hard Drive or SSD. If you have a large number of files then a Hard Drive will provide you with extra storage space.

Cost and affordability Winner: Hard Drives

HDDs vs SSDs: Longevity

Neither will last forever. We’ve already established that hard drives are mechanical drives, and all mechanical items with moving parts are subject to wear and tear, and will eventually fail.

Sadly, for a hard drive, it’s not usually possible to oil the parts inside or replace the part that’s worn. A damaged hard drive must be replaced (hopefully you’ve got a backup!)

SSDs are not immune to damage from long-term use either. Their underlying flash memory can become damaged or corrupted, rendering the drive (and all the data on it) unreadable.

Hard drives so have the potential to last a long time, but it’s never guaranteed. Undetectable manufacturing defects may cause a drive to fail much sooner than another drive of the same make/mode/year of manufacture.

On paper, SSDs are more durable, less susceptible to damage, so they scrape by in winning this round!

Longevity winner: Solid State Drives

Conclusion: Hard Drives vs. Solid State Drives

Solid State Drives (SSDs) are the overall clear winner when it comes to speed, performance and durability. However, Hard Drives are still sold the millions of consumers every year.

Despite hard drives existing for over 60 years, they’re not going away anytime soon. Hard drives offer the greatest amount of storage space for the lowest price, which is why they’re still so popular today.

The disadvantages of relying on hard drives is that there’s a greater risk of damage due to their mechanical nature. Even so, splashing out 4x the price per GB for a Solid-State Drive does not mean that your data is safer.

Both HDDs and SSDs have a risk of failure, like all electronics.

The best thing to do to protect your data and have the best experience with your equipment is to take regular backups of your important files!

Have you lost data from a Hard Drive or SSD?

If you’re worried about data loss on a damaged device, whatever the reason, time is of the essence!

Hard drive data recovery is a delicate process. The sooner you act, the higher than chances of recovery are. It’s important that you contact our data recovery specialists as soon as possible for the best possible chance of recovery.

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