All of the files on your computer are stored on a drive, but which one is the right one for you? When using an SSD (or Solid State Drives), you will see some benefits over HDD (or Mechanical drives), and yet there are many benefits to using a mechanical drive over a solid state. In this article we will go over the positives and negatives of each type of drive.
Price Per Gigabyte
Although prices have been dropping over the years, Solid State Drives cost significantly more than mechanical drives when comparing drives of the same size. With that said, we find that most people do not use their entire hard drives. Whereas going from a Terabyte (1,024GB) to 256GB may seem like a downgrade, if you are only using 100GB of space this will not affect you in any way.
Solid State Drives are designed to be incredibly fast. Mechanical drives have spinning disks (called Platters) and a Read\Write Arm, which reads the data stored on the platters. This means whenever you need to access data, the read\write arm will need to physically move to the section of the disk containing the data in order to read it. This is a very long, time consuming process. With a Solid State Drive, the data is stored using electronic circuits, which means data can be accessed very quickly.
Physical drives typically come in 2 speeds, 5,400 RPM and 7,200 RPM. Just like on a motor, it is measured in rotations per minute. A 7,200 RPM drive can access data faster than a 5,400 RPM drive. Data read\write speeds are measured in IOPS, or Input\Output Operations Per Second. This is a measure of the number of times data can be read or written in one second. A 5,400 RPM drive can do about 55 IOPS, whereas a 7,200 RPM drive can do about 75 IOPS. A Solid State Drive can do about 100,000 IOPS, effectively removing the bottleneck of data storage. On some newer computers, a Solid State Drive with a different type of interface called M.2 can be used. M.2 drives can do about 300,000 IOPS.
Solid State Drives have no moving parts, which means there’s no daily wear and tear on the components. On a physical hard drive, data is stored in sectors, and these can occasionally get damaged. When this happens, the data in that sector is lost. Solid State Drives fail at a lower rate than mechanical drives, as there is less that can go wrong.
In the event a solid state drive stops working, it is significantly more difficult to recover data from it. If a physical drive stops working, lab technicians can remove the platters from it in a cleanroom environment, and reconstruct the data that was stored on the drive. With Solid State Drives, if the chips that store the data are damaged, the data is gone and cannot be recovered.
Winner: HDD (but this can become irrelevant if you have up-to date backups!)
Hard Drives and Solid State Drives both have use cases. We strongly recommend using a Solid State Drive as the primary drive on your workstation, as the performance benefits outweigh any of the potential negatives. For long term and\or high volume storage (such as archived files, backups, movie libraries, or a file server), a hard drive will be your best bet due to the low cost per gigabyte and the high recoverability rate in the event of a failure.
We absolutely recommend backing up both though!