Solid State Drives & Hard Disk Drives Compared


Solid (Photo credit: Jeff Hester)

SSDs are becoming the defacto standard for fast and efficient hard disk storage.  The speeds that solid state drives offer compared to their older counterparts are staggering.  Those that work with video and those that require fast data throughput are finding that SSDs are a must have piece of hardware. This article will explain some key differences between SSDs and traditional Hard Drives.

SSDs and the technology behind them have come forward in leaps and bounds over the last year or two, pushing them well up the ranks and getting consumers to sit up and take notice (with many already opting to make use of balance transfers to acquire this new technology) – SSDs are no longer just a gimmick, but a powerful alternative to the standard HDD that we have all come to know and love. Here’s a small comparison of some key features that both the drives share:

A Brief Introduction

Now, we know a little about SSDs, or Solid State Drives, and not only does the name sound great, but the technology behind it is rather enabling and fascinating in its own right. Already, one will notice a stark difference between the two, in that SSDs use solid state memory (a fact made fairly obvious by the name) and contain no moving parts, unlike the more commonplace HDD with its moveable heads and constantly spinning disks – thus leading to SSDs maybe having an acoustic advantage over the HDDs by having a lower operating noise, but at the end of the day, that’s hardly the most important thing going here.


Obviously, “speed” could refer to a number of things, which will be discussed as they arise. However, the first stop would be to use speed to refer to when the drive turns on, or the spin-up time. The spin-up time refers to the time it takes for an HDD to spin the internal platters up to an operational speed – a task which is clearly reserved for things with moving parts, of which SSDs have none. The spin-up time for an SSD is nigh-on instantaneous, as there’s nothing mechanical to spin up in the first place. HDDs on the other hand, can take up to a few seconds for each drive needing a spin-up process.

Random access time is also slightly quicker for SSDs over HDDs. SSDs can access 10-100x faster than HDDs, as their data is retrieved from the flash memory, whereas the HDD has to wait for its read/write heads to be in an optimum position for whatever data needs reading.

Data transfer speed with vary from model to model (both for HDDs and SSDs), but there’s not much different in the two as of the current technology. SSDs can manage consistent transfer speeds, depending on the size of block being accessed, whereas for HDDs it’s down to the positioning of the read/write head once again, combined with the rotational speed of the disks/platters.

Some Other Factors To Consider

Intel X25-M SATA Solid-State Drive (SSD)

Intel X25-M SATA Solid-State Drive (SSD) (Photo credit: IntelFreePress)

Storage/Fragmentation – While it might technically be true to say that both modes are well into the TB realm of storage, SSDs have only recently joined the TB club, with most consumer models being much smaller (typically 256GB), whereas HDDs have been storing upwards of 2-3TB for some time now, comparatively. As for the fragmentation side of things, it has always been necessary to defrag traditional HDDs in order to fully optimise their performance over time. Yet SSDs have no need for defragmentation, as the file structure (data is not read sequentially) is different and no fragmentation will occur in the first place.

Shock, the one-time nemesis of data storage components everywhere, is hopefully no longer an issue with SSD technology, as there are no moving parts to start with. Further points would be that SSDs are generally more durable than standard HDDs, being more resistant to shock/sudden vibration, as well as placing no importance on orientation within the computer case. As well all know by know, HDDs just are not as durable as we’d want them to be, with mechanical parts failing when placed under duress/vibration/shock as well as being prone to orientation problems. Magnetic fields also pose fewer problems for SSD, yet can potentially cripple a standard HDD (although not to the same extent as has previously been possible, thankfully).

All in all, it would seem that the SSD as a whole is shaping up to be a true contender for the foremost option for data storage. Like a sleek new tank design that can’t carry as many passengers, the SSDs are technologically and physically robust and only time will tell if SSDs will usurp the place that HDDs have long held in our hearts. Suffice it to say, this technological race will be very interesting to watch indeed.

The following two tabs change content below.


Digital Poet at BurnWorld Inc.

I am the Team Leader here at BurnWorld. I am an audio/video enthusiast and have been in this industry for over 10 years. I love testing DVD/Blu-Ray and Video software.

Free PC Matic Scan

Tags: , , , ,

One Comment

  • Neil says:

    Just one problem with this comparison, which, although very interesting, is lacking in one important detail. Cost!
    What a shame as a good article could have been a brilliant article if the prices had been compared. After all, in these financially challenged times, cost will be a deciding factor in this technological race more so than the technology itself.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *