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Written by Jan

What are the differences between an internal hard drive (HDD) and SSD?

If you want to replace and expand the storage of your laptop, desktop, console, or NAS, you can choose between a hard drive (HDD) or SSD. While an HDD is more affordable, an SSD is 4 times as fast and more silent. But what exactly do you base your choice on? We'll explain what the differences are so you'll know whether to choose an HDD or SSD.

Differences SSD vs HDD

Solid State Drive (SSD) Hard drive (HDD)
Storage capacity Low (120GB to 4TB) High (500GB to 16TB)
Speed High (Up to 3000Mb/s) Low (Up to 160Mb/s)
Energy consumption Low High
Reliability High Low
Noise level Low High
Price High Low

What are they?

SSD

What is an SSD?

The word SSD stands for Solid State Drive. This means an SSD literally doesn't have any moving parts and is solid. By contrast, an HDD has moving parts. Data is stored in single flash memory chips on an SSD. This is done by means of an electric charge in the memory chips. This makes an SSD 4 times as fast as an HDD.

HDD hard drive

What is a hard drive (HDD)?

The word HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive. It's a digital storage device with a magnetic, metal disk. This disk spins around like a record player and is read by a read-write arm. The spinning makes a buzzing sound that is clearly audible. On top of that, the way the read-write arm physically looks for data on the spinning disk also makes noise.

Speed

The inside of an SSD.

SSD: 4 times faster

An SSD is 4 times as fast as an HDD. This is because an SSD transfers data directly. You can tell by the boot time of your PC, which takes about 15 seconds with an SSD. On top of that, you load programs and games at half the speed compared to an HDD.

The inside of an HDD. The spinning parts are clearly visible.

HDD: slow

Since HDD technology has been around for years, the speed has hardly changed. Due to the spinning mechanism, an HDD has to execute mechanical tasks to read and write information. As a result, it takes 45 seconds to a minute or even longer to boot your computer with an HDD, depending on your operating system.

Storage capacity

An SSD often has less than 4TB of storage space.

SSD: little storage space

There are SSDs with 4TB storage space, which equals 400,000 photos. While that is a lot, the price per gigabyte is higher with an SSD because it's relatively more expensive to make than an HDD.

An HDD has up to 16TB of storage space.

HDD: a lot of storage space

The technique for hard drives has been around for over 50 years. Manufacturers have managed to make HDDs smaller and more compact over the years, so they have a large storage capacity. There are HDDs with a storage capacity up to 16TB. Per gigabyte, HDD are more affordable than SSDs.

Reliability

An energy-efficient SanDisk Ultra SSD.

SSD: solid condition and energy efficient

An SSD doesn't have moving parts, so it becomes less warm than an HDD. This also makes your SSD more energy efficient. Thanks to lower levels of heat production, your drive remains cool and undamaged. Still, an SSD can wear just like an HDD. Since the lifespan of SSDs is expressed in TBW (Terabytes Written), you'll know for sure how long your SSD will last at the very least. The lifespan isn't always better, but it's easier to predict thanks to the TBW.

The vulnerable, spinning parts of a hard drive.

HDD: vulnerable parts

An HDD has moving parts, which means it's a lot more vulnerable physically. The spinning around of these parts generates heat and vibrations, which can cause wear. Modern hard drives have integrated techniques to reduce wear from heat and vibrations, such as anti-shock sensors.

Conclusion

Want to make your computer experience faster, including a boot time of less than 15 seconds, loading programs faster, and playing your game sooner? Use an SSD. Want more storage space because you have a lot of digital games or photos, or need a lot of storage for the media server on your NAS? Choose a hard drive (HDD).



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