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SSD vs HDD: Pros and Cons

Updated on March 17, 2013

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These days SSDs are getting plenty of attention and a lot of people recommend using them instead of good old spinning disks. But is it a good idea to make the change already? Or not just yet?

What is an SSD?

First of all, I’d like to remind you what SSDs are. Basically, a solid-state drive (SSD) is a data storage device that uses solid-state memory to store data. It emulates a hard disk drive interface, thus easily replacing it in most applications. Most SSDs use NAND flash memory.

Reliability

Hard disk failures happen all the time. A lot of stories have been told about how data was lost and what agony it was to retrieve it. Why do HDDs fail? Because of wear and tear – after all, they have mechanical components that can break, just like a car.

A flash-based SSD doesn’t have that issue. It has no moving parts, therefore there is no wear and tear. Having no mechanical parts make SSDs immune to physical vibration, shock, and extreme temperatures. For example, nothing will happen to an SSD if you drop it. It is their ability to work in extreme conditions that makes them very attractive for military use.

However, they have their own problem. The NAND flash memory endurance cycles are still too low. That’s why data retention is much shorter than with conventional hard drives.

You can prolong the lifetime of your SSD by either using good quality SSD optimization software or be simply leaving it alone. Never-ever use traditional disk defragmenters on your SSD unless you want it to pack up way before its time. Defragmentation uses up precious write cycles and reduces the lifetime of your disk.

Speed

Speed is the main advantage of a solid-state drive. SSDs offer blazing-fast performance being 100 times faster than HDDs. This incredible speed difference is due to a much shorter access time (less than a millisecond for an SSD compared to 17 - 18ms). If you want a big performance gain, switch to an SSD.

Another advantage of SSDs is that they make computers blissfully quiet, since there are no spinning platters to make that typical grinding noise you hear when your hard disk retrieves data.

But then again, you need to keep in mind that NAND flash memory never gets better in performance over time – only worse.

Price and Size Matter

Price per GB and capacity are the two main disadvantages of solid-state drives. They still are a lot smaller than traditional hard drives, which means that you simply won't have a lot of disk space. This means that you will have to take extra care and manage your SSD space more effectively. A program like Folder Size will help you do just that by letting you review the size of your files and folders. But basically you'll need to think twice when you download something or install huge software, and you'll need to pay attention to maintenance, such as disk cleanup, duplicate files removal (any duplicate file finder will do - Easy Duplicate Finder, Auslogics Duplicate File Finder, Duplicate Cleaner, you name it).

SSDs are not that popular yet because they are really expensive. Most people are not prepared to pay extra $200–300 for a laptop just because it comes with a solid-state drive.

The Verdict

Solid-state drives are not going to replace hard drives yet, not until their price drops and they match HDDs in size. But if for you speed gain is crucial and spending more money is not a big issue, SSDs are a way to go.

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© 2010 Snurre

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    • Snurre profile imageAUTHOR

      Snurre 

      2 years ago

      TechGoki16, I'll have to do some research on that!

    • TechGok16 profile image

      TechGokSixteen 

      2 years ago from India

      Can you name the best SSD's available in the market no matter the price is...

      Nice Post by the way

    • Snurre profile imageAUTHOR

      Snurre 

      5 years ago

      Dataanalyzers, I agree! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      Dataanalyzers 

      5 years ago

      prices have come down a lot now for SSD's. I would say give it another year!

    • Snurre profile imageAUTHOR

      Snurre 

      6 years ago

      @Mason, actually it's not quite like you put it. Yes, SSDs have limited write capabilities. But when the write per sector cap is hit, it means that you won't be able to write new data to the disk. Your existing data will still be there. And it's not really an issue because HDDs develop bad sectors and have failures more often than SSDs, so actually your data is safer with an SSD.

    • profile image

      Mason 

      6 years ago

      Ive noticed you HARDLY dwelled on the BIGGEST issue with an ssd. you mentioned it, but you didn't stress it. THEY GO BAD. you only get so many read and writes per sector, and its done. after that read/write cap is hit, you CANT recover it. that's sort of a HUGE thing to ignore. i thought this was a pros and cons article not a pros and a slight downside article.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      6 years ago from Asia

      Good to know, thanks for getting back to me. I think the drivers may be an issue with Windows, but as long as it works on USB then at least I still have a full system during the change over :-).

    • Snurre profile imageAUTHOR

      Snurre 

      6 years ago

      To be honest, I'm not sure whether you can mirror your existing system onto the SSD or not. But you should be able to use the HDD from a USB box.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      6 years ago from Asia

      Hi Snurre,

      Thanks for the reply. Do you happen to know if I can either

      1) Mirror my existing system onto the SSD,

      or

      2) Continue to use the Hdd from a USB box while I setup a new system? (it has a boot manager installed on it)

      Thanks

    • Snurre profile imageAUTHOR

      Snurre 

      6 years ago

      Hi Brett, thanks for reading. I would go for an SSD, as it will not only make the netbook lighter, but also a lot faster.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      6 years ago from Asia

      Hi Snurre, I was happy to find this, as I have been considering switching to SSD. Do you think that it is worth it for a netbook? (1.6GHZ, 2GB RAM, Win7) I would like a power gain, but love the portability of the netbook size!

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • Snurre profile imageAUTHOR

      Snurre 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for your comments!

    • sarovai profile image

      sarovai 

      6 years ago

      Thank u for the information about the differences between SSD and HDD. As you said, the price is the factor.

    • icciev profile image

      icciev 

      6 years ago from Kuwait

      what a nice overview about SSD hard drive, thanks for sharing this and voted up

    • profile image

      Ken 

      7 years ago

      The fact is ideally a system would have both SSD and HDD with onsite back-up for redundancy. Most users just want their pc's to function well and at this point HDDs still offer the best compromise for most users. As for the reliability of NAND storage devices one need not look further than the smart phone in their pocket and consider how often you back up the information stored within. If you, as a pc user, are willing to go to the same lengths with your system then spend the coin jump in and enjoy the performance boost!

    • CoolTechToday profile image

      CoolTechToday 

      7 years ago from New York

      I like SSD, but it is too expensive to buy it.

    • Snurre profile imageAUTHOR

      Snurre 

      8 years ago

      @save my system Thank you! Well, SSDs don't prove to be cheaper, but they are certainly faster! :)

    • save my system profile image

      save my system 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom - London

      hey,this is really very informative hub. SS D's gives you experience of awesome speed and reliability's of data.They prove to be cheaper than HSD if you compare it on performance basis.

    • Snurre profile imageAUTHOR

      Snurre 

      8 years ago

      @2uesday Thank you! I really try to write my computer-related articles so that any user (even a novice) can understand what I'm talking about and learn something new.

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 

      8 years ago

      Well done, you have written this hub in a way that even I a non 'technical' minded person can understand and I learned something new today. I never knew how the hard-drive back up that I use for my photos worked but I have a better idea of that now.

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