Before we dive in with their differences, let’s look at their similarities. Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid State Drive (SSD) are both storage components of your computer. Both also come in external or portable form. But how they function and store data are completely different.
Whenever consumers shop for new computers, even second-hand ones, they always check for the storage. And what they commonly encounter as the storage of say, example 1TB, is the hard drive, and very rarely the SSD. But some desktops and laptops have SSD in them as storage. Ultimately, what you use your computer for will determine which one you will need more. Wait, you can run a computer without an HDD? Well technically, yes. But it will be tricky.
The reason why HDD is one of the first things you see when shopping for a computer is because its quality and technology is tried and tested with time. 5 decades, to be precise.
The technology behind hard disk drives is well known and well-tested. Hard disk drives have been around for more than 50 years, steadily increasing their storage capacity and decreasing their physical size. HDDs rely on spinning disks, or platters, to read and write data.
Spinning platters and moving arms are what mainly compose a hard disk drive.
Hard disk drives consist of one or more magnetically-sensitive platters, an actuator arm with a read/write head on it for each platter, and a motor to spin the platters and move the arms. There is also an I/O controller and firmware that tells the hardware what to do and communicates with the rest of the system.
HDDs have stood the test of time. They have a trusted and reliable technology. Moreover, they are more affordable than SSDs even with the same storage amount. And compared to SSDs, they also come with more storage in the market. The bad? They use physical power. The moving parts can stop working when your computer is mishandled, especially laptops.
The drawbacks to HDDs are a result of the mechanical parts used to read and write data, as physically finding and retrieving data takes more time than electronically finding and retrieving data. The mechanical parts can skip or even fail if they are handled roughly or dropped. This is a concern in laptops, but not as much in desktops. HDDs are also heavier and use more energy than comparable SSDs.
An SSD, on the other hand, utilizes flash memory. This means that its processes are electronic, not physical.
Solid state drives use flash memory to deliver superior performance and durability. Because there are lots of small, moving parts inside your hard drive — magnetic heads, spindles, and spinning platters — it’s easy for things to go wrong and you could lose your important data. Without moving parts, SSDs are more durable, run cooler and use less energy..
SSDs run on NAND technology. And no, it is not an acronym. Unlike HDDs, SSDs have gates and charges.
SSDs can be thought of as large USB drives; they use the same base technology. NAND, the technology in solid state drives, is a kind of flash memory. At the lowest level, floating gate transistors record a charge (or lack of a charge) to store data. The gates are organized in a grid pattern, which is further organized into a block. Block size can vary, but each row that makes up the grid is called a page.
An SSD controller that performs several functions, including keeping track of where data is located.
If you love your games and movies, then you’ll love an SSD. All thanks to its modern technology which makes it light and better to resist and endure movement like chucking. And as mentioned, it utilizes less energy compared to an HDD. This makes the computer significantly cooler. The cons? They don’t come cheap.
SSDs are newer technology, and as such, are more expensive than HDDs. Although they are catching up, it can be harder to find large-capacity solid state drives. HDDs can be as much as 2.5 times larger.