In the mid 1950’s, as with much of our common-use computing technology, IBM had a huge hand in bringing about Hard-Disk Drives (HDD’s) and Solid State Drives (SSD’s) as they are manifest today.
From assembly line motors, electronic tubes from radio and television, to paper and magnetic tape memory, this was the foundational yellow-brick road to arriving at modern computer storage.
Only in the last two decades has the next logical progression in storage advancement really begun prevalence in the consumer market.
SSD vs HDD
HDD’s have been the standard for both industry and consumer for years, but with prior innovation from IBM and the tech industry as a whole, the inclusion of SSD technology is here and is readily becoming the new standard.
Here are a few main reasons why we’re seeing a shift:
Simply put, SSD’s provide a massive increase in speed. Even at the consumer level, the upgrade from HDD to SSD is a pronounced improvement in even the most mundane tasks, such as booting a PC (never kick your computer), opening a web-browser, or file transfer tasks.
Along with speed, is what I affectionately term ‘mousiness’. SSD’s are significantly more quiet than its clunky predecessors. HDD’s work mechanically with an arm and head, similar to a vinyl record player. This is used along with magnetism to access or write data to the disk, which can spin at up to 15,000 revolutions per minute. SSD’s forego the mechanical for the electronic.
Comprised of transistors and utilizing NAND flash memory, the process of read/write is not mechanical in an SSD, as mentioned above. Subsequently the device is much less susceptible to physical damage and wear and tear, which means of course it’s good for both booting and BOOTING.
SSD sizes can vary, but as a result of them being less mechanized systems, they also have a size advantage, having the ability to fit into most setups. After all SSD’s are now the standard for the laptop, which are becoming thinner and sleeker with each iteration, in turn requiring smaller storage devices. If you happen to invest in buying the new NVMe SSD drives, they can be smaller than a credit card.
Now before we run off thinking that SSD’s are the end-all be-all, let’s consider the pros of staying with HDD’s. After all, HDD’s still have a specific purpose in data storage.
Compared with its successive technology, HDD’s are still significantly cheaper mainly due to cost per gigabyte. A typical HDD of 1TB will cost anywhere from $40 – $50 at the time of this article, that’s about four to five times less than a corresponding SSD of the same size.
Long Term Storage / Conditions
With SSD’s comes speed, but by its nature, flash memory degrades faster than the magnetized method that HDD’s use. Without power for a significant amount of time (years), HDD’s are comparatively optimal for the long term, as magnetism degrades much more slowly. Tests have shown that even after 30 years, HDD’s continue to read/write perfectly. The HDD also offers better consistency in operation during higher temperature environments compared to SSD’s.
Failure Noticeability / Data Recovery
While you certainly don’t want your drive to break, if it does, you want to be able to detect easily that it’s broken. HDD’s will usually make distinct noises when they are coming to the end of their life-cycle, therefore making it easy to know when you need a replacement. SSD’s are notoriously ambiguous in their failure, they tend to fail without much notice, and are typically much harder to recover data from.
Knowledge and Services
HDD’s inevitably have more combined knowledge associated with them throughout the tech and service industry, by virtue of them being around longer to learn about. This might not be a deal breaker for the average person, but if your data is extremely valuable, the wealth of knowledge surrounding HDD’s and data recovery is certainly more encompassing, and as a result, more reliable.
The industry trend of moving towards SSD’s has more staying power than a trend would suggest. Cloud computing services like ours can utilize both SSD and HDD storage, but the standard for most users is quickly becoming SSD storage. With the advent of newer technologies in storage such as NVMe SSD’s and the beginnings of the dissolution of SATA, this will lend credence to SSD’s becoming a more solidified standard in the future of storage technology.