Back in the dark ages, storage technology on computers was extremely limited. With the advent and proliferation of laptops, that technology has taken a big leap, leaving many people still struggling to catch up with it. Today, desktop owners are in a better position than ever to soup up their 2010 dinosaurs with the help of SSD. But what exactly is SSD and what sets it apart from HDD?
What is SSD?
SSD is the commonly used abbreviation that stands for solid state drive. Solid state drives are used for data storage just like a traditional computer’s hard drive (which are commonly referred to as HDDs – you can find more info on that in the next section just below). Even if you’re not familiar with the terminology, you’re probably well familiar with how SSD is used, in things like thumb drives or USB memory sticks. These are just miniature versions of solid state drives. Solid state technology doesn’t use any moving mechanical parts, but instead relies on flash technology. That means no spinning disks and no humming or whirring sounds when an SSD is doing its thing. And it also means dramatically lower latency times. In other words, a solid state drive can load data lightning fast.
What is HDD?
Now that you’re familiar with the current state of the art, getting a handle on what HDDs are should be easy. Besides, you’ve used them plenty of times in the past. HDD stands for hard disk drive and is the data storage technology that’s been in primary use in computers for decades. In fact, hard disk drive technology has been around so long that it might be easier to measure its age in terms of centuries – as in, more than half a century. Originally developed by IBM in 1956, the very first HDD the world has ever known was about the size and weight of a piano and had a maximum capacity of just 5MB. For a fun diversion, check out IBM’s original press release dated September 14, 1956. Naturally, they’ve come an awful long way since. Like we mentioned briefly above, hard disk drives are pretty much the opposite of solid state drives in that they contain moving parts: fast spinning platters and magnetic heads that write and read data.
Which is Better? It Depends…
Determining the superiority of SSD versus HDD requires you to define exactly what “better” means. For some, better means faster and more reliable. To others, better can clearly be defined in terms of dollars and cents – also known as “bang for buck” or good ol’ fashioned affordability. Here’s a quick rundown on the pros and cons of SSD that’ll help you get an idea of how it stacks up against HDD.
The Pros and Cons of SSD
- SSD is faster. Much faster. Laptops and computers equipped with SSDs can boot up in a matter of seconds, whereas traditional HDD computers can take several minutes. This is a direct result of the hard disk drive’s need to spin to access the stored information.
- SSD can take a licking. The entire lack of moving parts in a solid state drive means that it can withstand impacts far better than its much more fragile cousin, the hard disk drive. For this reason, solid state is a far better choice for the computer operator who’s constantly in motion or who just can’t keep from bumping his or her computer around.
- HDD is cheaper; SSD is still expensive. Although the cost of solid state drives has seen a dramatic decrease over the course of the last few years, they still have a long way to go to catch up with hard disk drives, who have also been doing their fair share of plummeting in cost.
- HDD has greater storage capacity. If you’re in the market for vast amounts of storage, as is the case with a lot of enterprises who have limited amounts of available floor space, HDD remains the most viable data storage alternative. But spatial limitations aren’t just seen and felt at the corporate storage level. The average user who wants 1TB of storage space will have to buy four solid state drives, since the maximum capacity of most SSD drives is 256GB.
Will HDD Work Just as Well as SSD?
The fact that hard disk drives have been around since Eisenhower was in office speaks a lot for the durability of the technology. But its age can also work against it, especially when you cast your crystal ball into the future of computing to view the strong likelihood that SSD will eventually replace HDD as cost continues to drop. As it stands now, SSD is the fastest and most expensive data storage option. When compared side by side with HDD technology, it blows doors in the areas of speed and performance – yet both methods are perfectly capable of storing data for long periods of time. If cost is the bottom line and you’re okay maintaining the status quo of your existing setup, there may be no need to upgrade to SSD. But if you’re the head of an IT department considering upgrading your company’s entire storage database, the long term benefits of flash-powered SSD may prove a rock solid investment that’ll pay for itself in improved efficiency.
Business Users Who Can Benefit from SSD
The fact remains, SSD can be a far greater benefit to individual business users than it can be to whole enterprises. Some of the users most likely to gain maximum benefit from computers with solid state technology include the following:
- Photographers using high end editing software.
- Videographers or film makers using software to perform high bandwidth editing.
- Musicians using high end recording and producing software.
- Remote workers performing a high volume of data transfers.
- In-the-field workers dependent on reliable performance and shock-resistant technology.
- Dedicated gamers.