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SSD VS. HDD – How Are They Different and Which Do I Need?

If you’re looking into buying a computer, you’ve probably been looking into storage options and have found there are two types of drives to choose from: a solid state drive (SSD) or a hard drive (HDD). Why is one so much more expensive? Which one is faster? How are they different? This guide will hopefully help you make this decision based on what you need.

HDD – Old Faithful

Hard Drive
A hard drive (or HDD) with the cover removed.

Hard drives are the most popular form of storage; most likely the computer you are viewing this on has a hard drive in it rather than a solid state drive (SSD). A hard drive’s main components contain a spinning disk where data is stored and a head that moves and “reads” the data on the disk when you access information. One of the main draws of hard drives are that they can have large amounts of storage at relatively low prices; a definite plus for people with a lot of data to store. At Lotus Computer, we use hard drives in our models for customers who love the large storage spaces. This Lotus Astra i5 comes equipped with a 1TB HDD, perfect for storing family memories, music collections, and business documents.

SSD – The New Kid on the Block

Solid State Drive or SSD
A solid state drive (or SSD)

In function, SSDs are identical to HDDs. In form, they are radically different. While hard drives store their data on a spinning disk, solid state drives store information on flash memory chips; they work with the same technology as flash drives. This allows data to be stored without the need of a moving part to access it; this helps to improve access speeds for applications and processes that are running. Another type of SSD is the M.2 drive; the smaller and faster form of SSD that can also hold large amounts of data. Rather than being an actual drive it is a small card that plugs directly into the motherboard. But for what it makes up for in size, speed, and storage, it loses in cost; these can be more expensive than a regular SSD. At Lotus Computer, we prefer SSDs because of the great reliability, fast access speeds, and cost-effectiveness. Many of our laptops, such as this Lotus Eclipse 650, come with SSDs to provide our customers with a clean browsing experience. As for M.2 SSDs, this Lotus Axis 700 and other high-end Lotus models come with a lightning fast M.2 SSD, for those looking for a premium storage experience.

 

SSD or HDD – Storage Wars

There are many different factors to consider when deciding on an SSD or an HDD. If you need to access data and open programs faster, you would want an SSD. A hard drive is good for people who are worried about price and not concerned with fast access speeds. Hard drives are cheaper, but SSDs are quieter and store data in a way that can avoid fragmentation (i.e. it uses storage space much more efficiently).  Because of the architecture of a hard drive they will always be larger and bulkier than a SSD, and due to the nature of technology shrinking as new iterations come out, solid state drives could potentially get smaller as time goes on. SSDs are less prone to breaking since there is no disk that can get scratched or broken because of mishandling the computer.

Results – It’s in Your Hands 

In the battle between the drives, there is not clear winner. It comes down to personal preference and what your specific needs are. Someone looking for performance, form factor, and durability will steer more toward an SSD. An HDD is the better choice if you are worried about price or have high storage needs. If necessary, you could always get your computer with one of each to suit both needs.

HDD SSD M.2 SSD
Speed Slower due to moving parts Faster because of flash memory technology Lightning fast transfer speeds
Storage 60GB – 10,000GB (10TB) 60GB – 4,000GB (4TB) 120GB – 2,000GB (2TB)
Size (rough estimate) Large 3.5″ drive (brick) Smaller 2.5″ drive (deck of cards) Very small drive that fits on motherboard (stick of gum)
Noise  Louder due to spinning disk  Silent Silent
Price 250GB for ~$25.00  250GB for ~$100.00 250GB for ~$125.00
Durability Reading disc wears out after a few years, prone to failure  Very durable and long lifespan Long lifespan, but somewhat thin and delicate design