December 2nd, 2016 by Rocket IT
Whether you’re picking up a new drive for your computer or examining your options while buying a new computer entirely, there is one big decision you have to make. Do you choose a solid state drive (SSD) or do you go for the standard (and cheaper) hard disk drive (HDD or hard drive)?
There are pros and cons to both, so let’s consider the differences.
The main difference between a solid state drive and a hard drive is in how they store and read the data saved. A solid state drive has flash memory chips that retain data. These drives don’t have moving parts, unlike your typical hard drive. A hard drive stores data using a magnetic platter with an arm that reads and writes the data.
The solid state drive is quickly rising in popularity and compatibility. So what’s behind all the hype?
Your standard solid state drive has great speed. PCs equipped with solid state drives boot in less than a minute, launches programs faster than your standard hard drive, and transfers files faster. Hard drives are slowed down by the way in which they retrieve data (by reading it from the magnetic platter) and by the way they write data… Which can cause disk fragmentation over time. Fragmentation occurs when hard drives start to fill up and larger files end up scattered around the disk platter. Of course, this doesn’t mean that hard drives are sloths compared to their solid counterparts; a nicer hard drive will provide you a good deal of speed as well.
Solid state drives also tend to be more compact. As our laptops get slimmer, SSDs are gaining in popularity because of their smaller size. Hard drives have the disadvantage of being limited in how small they can get because of their magnetic platters and other moving parts.
Those moving parts in hard drives also hinder them by making them more likely to become damaged if they’re dropped. Solid state drives are considerable more likely to survive a fall than your standard hard drive (though we can’t say the same for the rest of your laptop… especially the screen).
The solid state drive’s flash memory chips also retain more data than the hard drive’s magnetic platter. This means you have more storage space and more capacity for running heavy duty programs. If you’re an avid PC gamer, having a solid state drive will make a huge difference for you.
All this being said, solid state drives are still significantly more expensive than hard disk drives, and you can get a really nice hard drive with the same memory capacity as some solid state drives for a fraction of the cost.
Solid state drives are also more prone to data corruption and total malfunction in the case of power failure. That means surges and blackouts can cause damage to your drive if your laptop isn’t properly protected.
As solid state drives become more commonplace, we can expect that heavy price tag to lighten, and they will be the easy choice. But, until then, hard disk drives are still a strong contender.
Steven Morgan is a Field Support Technician at Rocket IT. Steven used to teach whitewater kayaking, canoeing, sailing, lifesaving, and swimming. He also enjoys winter hikes.
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