Standard hard disk drives (HDDs) versus solid state drives (SSDs). These two contendors have been followed closely to see which will emerge triumphant in the word of computers. From hard drives’ inception up until 2011, HDDs have been the head honcho. But consumer sales estimate that 2012 will be the year SSDs “break out” and surpase HDDs due to their plummeting prices.
Despite the estimated price drop of the SSD, it is still much more expensive than HDDs. And, since both items serve roughly the same purpose of booting your system and storing your applications and personal files, one needs to understand the differences before deciding which is right for you.
How an SSD works
While SSDs differ from the HDD on many account, the main difference is how they store data. SSDs use electrical currents and flash memory, instead of the HDDs’ magnetic and motorized technology. SSD data storage uses flash memory, similar to the technology of camera memory or in USB flash drives, so it does not need to connect to an external power source.
If you’d like to know the basics of how a HDD works to compare, visit our previous post: Hard Drives 101.
SSDs have many advantages over HDDs.
- Durability – Since SSDs have no moving parts, you most likely won’t lose data if your computer faces an impact. They have greater shock and impact resistance, and are almost impervious to magnetic fields.
- Speed – SSDs have much faster read and write times and boot up in seconds. HDDs are literally disks: they must start up and then spin to process data, often taking several minutes to boot up.
- Power Usage – SSDs use much less electricity because they don’t spin a motor.
Writer Paul Woodman argues the disadvantages of SSDs compared to HDDs are “few, but significant.”
- Price – while SSD’s prices are plummeting rapidly in 2012, they are still much higher than HDDs. They are projected to reach around $1 per gigabyte in 2012. But compared to an HDD of same form factor, you’ll still pay around 300% more.
- Availability – HDDs are much more plentiful and come in all the top brand names: Toshiba, Seagate, Western Digital, etc. The SSD selection is much more limited as of now.
- Maximum Capacity – because of SSD’s higher prices, most computers include SSDs from 128GB to 500GB, while HDD computers easily top out at 1TB. Buying a computer with a 1TB SSD is a rarity and will cost an arm and a leg.
In terms of an overall conclusion of which is better, most commentators agree that if it were not for SSD’s higher prices and limited availability, SSDs would be the obvious victor. Columnists Joel Santo Domingo summarizes it in this way:
HDDs win on price, capacity, and availability. SSDs work best if speed, ruggedness, form factor, noise, or fragmentation (technically part of speed) are important factors to you. If it weren’t for the price and capacity issues, SSDs would be the winner hands down.
Your best bet, then, would be to wait until SSD catches onto the general populace so that the demand will drive prices down. For the next few years, however, HDDs will continue to be the most commonly used hard drive.
Eio houses both types: