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Written by Lyth0s   
Thursday, 17 March 2011 21:35

Solid State Drives vs. Hard Disk Drives (SSD vs HDD)

Solid state drives (SSD) are data storage devices that used to store persistent data. In terms of function SSD's serve the same purpose as your typical hard disk drive (HDD), but are much faster than your typical hard drive. The main difference between solid state drives and hard disk drives is that hard disk drives are electromechanical, meaning that they have moving parts. In a HDD the hard drive has an actual magnetic disk that needs to spin and it has a moving read/write head. So hard disk drives are slower because they need to wait for these moving parts to get into place before they can save information to the hard drive or before then can read files. In contrast, solid state drives have no moving parts and they store information in microchips, much like a USB flash drive (but much faster!) and they can instantly start saving information or reading files, without having to wait for any moving parts to get in place.

Solid State Drive (SSD) Pro's and Benefits

Solid state drives have no spin up time, meaning they are instantly ready to read or write to the drive, while HDD's may need up to around 2 seconds before they can actually access the drive. Solid state drives are also able to both read and write files at about twice the speeds of hard disk drives. This means your computer will boot faster and video games and other programs will load quicker! SSD's also do not need to be defragmented, in contrast a fragmented HDD will greatly reduce read/write times of the hard disk drives and slow your computer down. SSD's are also much less likely to break if you drop them or if they sustain an impact, because they have no moving parts. Strong magnetic fields can corrupt an HDD, while the SSD's are unaffected by magnets. Solid state drives also consume much less power and produce much less heat than hard disk drives do (2W SDD vs 7W HDD power consumption).

Solid State Drive (SSD) Cons

The only two current cons to having a solid state drive is if you need to encrypt data or you don't want to fork out the extra cash to buy one. Currently the most popular SSD are based on MLC NAND flash memory and this type of memory cannot overwrite files and can only write information to empty blocks or previously erased blocks. This means that if you have a file on your computer and you use a program to encrypt it, the old data is not overwritten and can still be accessed. Thus you would need to encrypt the file, and then securely erase the old data, preferably with a secure erase feature built into the SSD. If you need to encrypt data I highly recommend buying a SSD that has a "Secure Erase" feature built into the drive or look into Truecrypt creating an entire encrypted partition of the drive and Windows installation. Solid state drives are currently much more expensive than HDD's. Currently a SSD costs about $1.80 USD per gigabyte, while a HDD costs about $0.11 USD per gigabyte (As of 3/17/2011).

Solid State Drive (SSD) Lifespan

SSD also has a limited life span due to the limited number of write cycles. However, today's current MLC SSD's have an Mean time between failures (MTBF) of 2,000,000 hours, which simply put means that your SSD will typically last for 228 years! They technically have a limited amount of writes they can perform too, but they are able to sustain about 40 years of constant, non-stop, writing before they would start failing. Hopefully that puts the myth that SSD's will not last very long to rest, unless you need to have your SSD last you for over 228 years...

The table below gives a pretty good compare and contrast between HDD vs SSD.



Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

Solid State Drive (SSD)

Sensitive to Magnets Magnets will alter or destroy data Magnets have no effect on data
Power Consumption 7 Watt average 2 Watt average
Time to Spin Up Up to 2 seconds before HDD can read/write to drive Instantaneous, able to read/write immediately
Read Speed (SATA) Roughly 100MB/s, can very depending on level of fragmentation 250 MB/s
Write Speed (SATA) 50-70 MB/s, can very depending on level of fragmentation. Up to 118 MB/s on HDD's such as the WD Velociraptor. 200-250MB/s.
Lifespan May fail due to vibrations or impact, usual MTBF of 1,500,000 hours (171 years)
No finite number of writes
MTBF of 2,000,000 hours, AKA 228 years.
Or about 40 years of non-stop writing due to write cycle limits
Encryption HDD's can overwrite encrypted data right on top of the old data SSD's need a secure erase feature or total partition encryption. (Can not overwrite data, data must be erased first)
Cost HDD's cost about $0.11 USD per gigabyte as of 3/17/2011 Solid state drives cost about $1.80 USD per gigabyte as of 3/17/2011
Sound HDD's typically make noticable sound during read/write and spin up times. Solid state drives have no moving parts and make no sound.
Heat Very little heat produced, but still 3 times more heat than SSD's. Only produce about 1/3 the amount of heat of an HDD.
Sensitivity to Shock Very sensitive, hard disk drive heads and disks may break due to shock or vibration Solid state drives have no moving parts and are very resistant to shock and vibration
Fragmentation Level of fragmentation of an HDD will significantly reduce read/write speeds No need to defragment solid state drives due to not having any read/write heads to find the data
Appearance HDD hard drive OCZ SSD
High Performance
Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB SATA III Intel 320 Series 120 GB SATA 3.0 Gb-s 2.5-Inch Solid-State Drive (SSD)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 December 2011 15:43


+1 #23 elmefarda 2012-01-22 00:26
Thnx . I was looking for this information
-7 #22 PostScaresity 2011-12-22 05:14
Quoting Patrick Whittemore:
Only thing this doesn't mention is if your looking for one on a laptop, you need to verify your connections. There are SSDs that can read at 550mb and its a waste of money when your laptop is stuck at SATA2 with only a max of 300MB.. So find out the port speed before you make a purchase..

LMFAO.. well if i have a comp with SATA2 at this point in time, im prob gonna end up buying something new very soon so i would not waste my money buying a SATA2 when SATA3 is backward compatible...
+9 #21 Patrick Whittemore 2011-10-31 13:42
Only thing this doesn't mention is if your looking for one on a laptop, you need to verify your connections. There are SSDs that can read at 550mb and its a waste of money when your laptop is stuck at SATA2 with only a max of 300MB.. So find out the port speed before you make a purchase..
+1 #20 Lyth0s 2011-10-29 12:19
For storage space I still prefer to use HDD due to their large size and the fact that they are much cheaper. However, if money is not an issue, the SSD will be much faster.
-2 #19 Lyth0s 2011-10-29 12:17
There are many SSD's over 200GB. See the following link for an SSD over 200GB
+4 #18 Lyth0s 2011-10-29 12:13
You're correct in that there is no real consumer market for SSDs over 1TB, however SSD's may cost $800 if you try to get a 500GB one. However, I'd suggest to just get an SSD for your operating system, games and any other hardware intensive performance programs that you run, then throw everything else on the HDD.
0 #17 Gabbrielle 2011-10-19 08:00
1TB HDD or an SSD?
-16 #16 hector 2011-10-18 01:24
you afe also forgoton that SSD are yeat to pass the 200GB mark (let alone the 2TB mark that HDDs have recently pased) and that is definatly a con my computer has a garnd total of 6.75TB storage with a 1TB system/program disk to cover that drive alone i would need 4 256GB drives at £290 a piece (the HDD cost less that £70)
-6 #15 maggot283 2011-10-04 20:47
Now just so everyone is aware since this was not exactly mentioned. I did the math and figuring any average computer has about 500gb or hard drive space the cost for a HDD is $55 and the cost of a SSD would be about $900. Now I would love an SSD as it does preform faster but fact is any serious computer geek is going to want at least a TB of space. Unless we are all Millionaires with tons of money to blow this is a huge determining factor.
+11 #14 lyth0s 2011-08-14 16:56
SSD stands for solid state drive while HDD stands for hard disk drive. These refer to the amount of space on your computer, not how much memory they have. 160GB of SSD is the same amount of space as 160GB of HDD, but the SSD will run faster (will load files faster etc).

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