HDD vs SSD: The Best Choice for You

Running low on storage for a computer does happen eventually as well as having a slower loading time that seems to be inching its way across the finish line…. Ever so slowly. These could be signs that it is time for a hardware upgrade. But the question which is better, and how to choose between an HDD vs SSD?

Obviously the best choice would the one that gives the strongest outcome for a computer. Later on in this article we’ll be clarifying the differences in terms of speed, storage, price, and longevity so you can make a decision.

Table of Contents:

  • HDD vs SSD: what’s the difference
  • How much faster are solid-state drives compared to hard disk drives?
  • Why not use both an SSD and HDD?
  • Longevity of an SSD
  • Storage differences between hdd and ssd?
  • Price difference between ssd and hdd
  • Is HDD vs SSD better for gaming
  • summary

HDD vs. SSD: What’s the difference?

It is really good to know the major differences between each of these storage devices. This will give you the ability to know what you are purchasing. Knowing not only the differences but what they do is super important. Let’s take a look into more about each one and the major differences.

Hard Disk Drive

Hard Disk Drive or hdd
image credit: Hewlett-Packard

A hard disk drive (HDD): is an old-school storage device that uses mechanical platters and a moving read/write head to access data.

hard disk drive (sometimes abbreviated as hard driveHD, or HDD) is a non-volatile data storage device. It is usually installed inside of a computer, attached directly to the storage disk controller of the computer’s motherboard.

It contains one or more (platters), which are housed inside of an air-sealed casing. Data is written to these platters using a magnetic head, which moves rapidly over them as they spin.

A HDD stores documents, pictures, music, videos, programs, application preferences, and operating system represent digital content stored on a hard drive. Also hard drives can be external or internal.

Solid State Drive

Solid State Drive or ssd
image credit: SanDisk

A solid-state drive (SSD): is a newer, faster type of device that stores data on instantly accessible memory chips.

Inside a computer, the storage drive (whether an SSD or an HDD)works alongside the system’s memory and processor to access and use data. 

Solid state drives use different technology than the traditional hard drives. This allow SSDs to access data faster, improving a computer’s performance. The data includes things like the operating system, games, images, or music.
For example, if you want to see what’s going on behind the scenes with this device, here is a quick look into that:

  1.  Programs and files are housed on a storage drive. In this case, the spreadsheet (known as any action that includes accessing saved files) wanting to access.
  2.  When making a request to open the spreadsheet, your computer’s processor transfers the program data from your storage drive to RAM(Random Access Memory) for short-term access and use. Because SSDs have nearly instant data transfer speeds, they speed up the data transfer process, which is the amount of time it takes to load programs and files. 
  3. The processor then accesses that data from the memory, which acts as your computer’s bank of available space. Memory is then used to “run” the program.

In addition to being faster, SSDs are more durable because they don’t have moving parts that can be broken or wear out, especially when they’re moved around. Plus, they use less energy, saving battery life.

Installing an SSD is one of the easiest ways to transform almost every aspect of a computers performance, making slow load times a thing of the past.

How Each Device Stores Information

how each hdd and ssd store information

Fundamentally, HDD and SSD have the same purpose: These storage devices preserve the memories, music, documents, and programs. But the technology behind them couldn’t be more different:

  • HDDs: An enclosure contains a series of platters covered by a ferromagnetic coating. The direction of the magnetization represents the individual bits. Data is read and written by a head that moves extremely fast from one area of the disk to another. Since all of these pieces are “mechanical,” the hard disk is the slowest component of any computer – and the most fragile.
  • SSD: These newer types of disks store information on flash memory, which consists of individual memory cells storing bits that are instantly accessible by the controller.

Why not use both an SSD and a HDD?

why not use both an hdd and an ssd
image credit: Lifewire

There is a way to use both of the storage devices at the same time. What would be going on is that using the SSD for load times to be decreased while sending big storage downloads to the HDD. Is there any benefit to that? The brief answer would be yes because if a computer is just being used to merely save pictures, or other files it allows the computer to not bog down the SSD. 

This is an option I would always recommend as it not only saves money, but gives the best experience. This is with any gaming, to watching youtube since the load times will be so small. Not only that but by setting a computer to boot and run windows purely from the SSD to get that smooth 5-10 second boot time!

Having two SSDs will just enhance this feature. It will give faster load times when it comes to say saving movies, or loading larger photos. It isn’t needed, but sometimes having faster load times feels so much better then waiting a minute for a browser to open. HDD vs SSD is making things tough to get a crystal clear answer on which one is best!

How much faster are SSD’s compared to HDD’s?

load speed of hdd ans ssd
image credit: VectorStock

The speed difference is very significant. SSDs are extremely fast in all areas, but the speed difference is more pronounced when performing certain tasks. Let’s take a look at some key differences in load speed.

Load Speed for HDD’s and SSD’s

  • Sequential read/write operations: Transfer large files (such as movies or even games) is where the difference plays the biggest role. On old-school HDDs, the copying process takes 30-150 MB per second (MB/s), where the same action takes about 500 MB/s on normal SSD, or even 3,000-3,500 MB/s on NVME SSDs. 

    In this example, downloading a 20 GB game is complete in less than 5 minutes with an SSD. A hard disk would need at least 10 minutes to at most 30 minutes depending on the game.
  • NVME (non-volatile memory express) is a host controller interface and storage protocol created to accelerate the transfer of data between enterprise and client systems. Solid-state drives (SSDs) over a computer’s high-speed Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) bus.
  • Small “4K” read/write operations: Most of the time, when you run Windows (or MacOS), open programs, or browse the web, you’re actually opening and manipulating thousands of smaller files, which are stored in small blocks of data (usually sized at 4K).

    The faster your disk can read and write these 4K blocks, the faster and snappier your system seems. With HDDs, the speed ranges from 0.1 to 1.8 megabytes per second (MB/s). SSDs and NVME SSDs, however, run at much faster speeds of 50-250 MB/s in those 4K reads/writes operations.

In terms of performance, the system would be painfully slow with an HDD compared to an SSD. Every click in Windows is accompanied by a massive delay; boot time takes four minutes to fully complete; launching Chrome takes about 15 seconds. It isn’t fun.

In comparison, using an SSD would shave off a huge amount of load time from booting in approximately 5-10 seconds and launching an internet browser in a mere 2-5 seconds.

The Longevity of an SSD

There are lots of myths surrounding SSD life spans, and the assumptions go back to the early days of SSDs in the 1990s and early 2000s. It is true that SSDs have a limited lifespan, but in todays age this is not really an issue.
In theory, the more data written to the SSDs cells, the faster it wears out.

Nowadays, an SSD cell survives about 3,000 write cycles, which doesn’t sound like much at first. But thanks to the principle of wear leveling. The SSD controller makes sure that write operations are spread evenly across all cells. This is to ensure that it minimizes “cell death”. Additionally, more modern SSDs can contain spare cells that will replace older cells that go bad. This is called bad block management, and it’s why the larger the SSD, the longer its lifespan.

However, even if it was continuously to be writing data on to a hard disk for 24 hours a day, there would still be a decades worth of life until the disk eventually dies. 

Storage differences between HDDs vs SSDs?

If there is a concern about how much information that can be stored on each type of drive, be reassured. There is no difference in storage capacity. In fact obtaining HDDs and SSDs come in similar sizes. 

Usually the range is 128 GB to 2 TB. This depends on the preference of storage device. This is where the differences become one and allows this to really optimize all decisions, possibly even save money! From personal experience, my previous computer used a 1TB HDD and a 256GB SSD. 

Like it was explained earlier on when combining the two devices. I had the ability to run all of the games quickly while also having a short boot time. All of this was done while being able to store larger files on a bigger storage device. I didn’t mind the load times for certain games. So I would save those games on the normal HDD while having the games I enjoyed on the SSD.

However, larger SSDs are still more expensive. So comparing the two in terms of price it is obvious that it will be a vast difference on how these items will cost. It really comes down to what is needed and what’s best for the computer ad it’s longevity. 

Price differences between HDDs vs SSDs

The market for flash storage is volatile, and it varies based on supply and demand. While the price for SSDs has decreased a lot, there is still a significant price difference. 

  • 2 TB HDD costs between $30 and $60
  • 2 TB SSD costs from around $200 to $500

Crazy difference in price ranges even though technically it’s gaining the same amount of storage space. Again, it just comes down to what is being needed or wanted more. The storage space or the storage space and fast load speeds. HDD vs SSD makes things difficult to choose and with all this information, I hope this will help.

HDD vs SDD: which is better for gaming?

The answer here is simple if you love gaming as much as I do. SSD is far superior than an HDD when it comes to gaming. From load speeds to  experiencing less stutter when playing games, this is a dream come true for gamers. This is because the rest of the PC doesn’t need to wait for game data to load  which can give quite an advantage, especially in competitive games like League of Legends or Call of Duty. 

Here’s a simple example: Loading the world of GTA V takes about 25 seconds on my Samsung 970 Evo Plus with SSD, compared to more than two minutes when using an old mechanical hard disk. It is apparent how much of a difference SSDs can make when playing larger scale games such as GTA V or even an MMORPG.

Summary

To sum up if you’re simply just looking for a cheap way to store files, then there are still ways to get a great deal with HDDs. They offer lots of terabytes for budget prices. It keeps things simple and allows everyone to have more storage than what can be imagined! HDD vs SSD can be a difficult choice, but keeping it simple will yield the best answer for you.

But for a “primary” drive (the operating system, application programs, and most-used files), it should upgrade to an SSD, as it offers dramatically improved speeds. As you have seen from the above examples, its abundantly clear you need an SSD.

In all cases, HDD vs SSD, you’ll need to keep a drive clean. An operating system requires a lot of disk space to operate and running low on space can cause extreme slowdowns and even crashes.