SSD or HDD? What type of hard drive should you get, and why do they matter?
The hard drive plays a very important role in your PC’s performance. The type of storage you select will have an impact on your computer speed, load times, and reliability.
Whether you select an SSD or HDD for your next gaming PC, you’ll want to know how they both work. These two drives perform the same job of storing data, but the way that they do this job is very different.
How does an HDD work?
HDD’s are mechanical, unlike the chip that makes up an SSD. The inside of a traditional hard drive contains “platters,” or disks coated in magnetic material. You’ll also find a read/write arm that moves over the platters much like a record player. The platters rotate at high speeds while the read/write arm follows commands to either recall or record information. By slightly changing the magnetic pattern on the surface of the platter, the arm can write information in binary code to the platters. By reading the magnetic pattern, the arm can recall information.
When you save files on a traditional hard drive, it will magnetically write the code for those files into storage cells. But what happens if you want to delete a file?
The only commands that a traditional hard drive has are “read” or “write.” When you delete a file on your computer, you are telling the drive to treat the space where that file lives as though it is blank space. The same is true when you reformat a drive; the drive knows to ignore the existing file or information until the hard drive fills that space with new information. This is why hard drives are often recoverable even after files have been deleted or even reformatted.
What are the advantages of an HDD?
- Extremely reliable over a long period of time (about 9 to 11 years) if treated well
- Resistant to degradation overtime if kept in dry environments with low temperatures
- Generally cheaper
- Lower risk of data loss
- Far easier to reliably erase and reuse
What are the disadvantages of an HDD?
- Mechanical failures possible
- Compared to SSDs, slower response times
- Sensitive to temperature, can degrade if left in extreme heat or cold, altitude also factors into performance
- Weak to vibrations or shocks
- Bigger, heavier, and bulkier
How does an SSD work ?
SSDs differ from traditional hard drives in nearly every way. But to the average user, you do not really notice a difference as you move files around in your PC.
SSDs use store and retrieve data using electronic circuits, so they don’t need to use any mechanical parts. This makes them much faster than a mechanical hard drive, and it’s the reason so many people love loading their Operating System on an SSD. SSD’s run on flash memory; usually, NAND non-volatile flash memory.
Rather than writing binary code by creating a magnetic pattern, SSDs electronically program binary into storage cells. Cells are organized into pages, around 64 pages are grouped into a block, and blocks are filled in sequence.
Blocks can only be written into once fully. If an SSD wants to reuse the storage space in part of a block, it must completely erase the data in that entire block.
If you erased and rewrote data to the same block in your SSD over and over, the drive would wear out far faster than its actual lifespan. To keep SSDs alive longer, a technique called “wear leveling” is used to write data evenly over the drive. This way, no block is degraded at a faster rate than another.
What are the advantages of an SSD?
- Far faster than HDD’s. Cheap models will outperform some traditional drives.
- Resistant two vibrations shocks and other contamination’s
- Can operate in more extreme temperatures and altitudes
- High storage capacity
- Small, thin, and light
What are the disadvantages of an SSD?
- SSDs not in use can begin to lose data within one or two years. For this reason, I don’t recommend SSDs for long-term archival storage
- More expensive than traditional hard drives
- Sensitive to power outages