A solid-state drive or SSD is a hardware device and a specific type of storage medium that uses interconnected flash memories or integrated circuit assemblies to store data persistently even without power.
Unlike a hard disk drive or HDD that stores data using a moving read-write magnetic head on a rotating metallic platter, an SSD has no mechanical parts. The absence of these moving components provides solid-state drives great advantage over hard disk drives.
This article lists and discusses the advantages and disadvantages or the pros and cons of solid-state drive when compared to a hard disk drive.
SSD vs. HDD: The pros of solid-state drive
1. Faster read-write speed than HDD: One of the notable advantages of a solid-state drive over a hard disk drive is speed. SSDs are 25 to 100 times faster than HDDs. Note that an HDD needs extra time to read or write data as it moves its magnetic head over a spinning metallic platter. This mechanism also fragments the arrangement of data. Nonetheless, an SSD is inherently faster due to the absence of mechanical parts and fragmentation, thus translating to faster boot times, quicker file transfer, and better bandwidth.
2. Energy efficiency: An SSD consumes less power than HDD. Remember than an HDD has moving parts. This means that it requires additional power input to do mechanical work and become operational. An SSD does otherwise. Energy efficiency is one of the reasons why solid-state drives are ideal storage mediums for computers and other mobile devices in which battery capacity and battery life are critical technical specifications.
3. Tougher than HDD: Longevity is another advantage of solid-state drive. Internal hardware damages and possible data loss from drops and shudders have been observed in hard disk drives due to their mechanical components. An SSD is more resilient against drops and shudders and less prone to data loss caused by external trauma due to the absence of moving parts. This also makes an SSD ideal for laptops and other mobile devices.
4. Noise-free operation: A hard disk drive can produce distracting sounds and vibrations while in operation dye to the movement of its read-write head and rotation of its metallic disk plate. This is especially true when processing large amounts of data. On the other hand, the absence of moving parts and mechanical work in a solid-state drive makes it essentially quiet while in operation.
5. More compact than HDD: Small form factor is also an advantage of a solid-state drive. An HDD is naturally bulkier due to its magnetic head and metallic disk placed in an enclosure. On the other hand, an SSD is made up of small integrated circuits. The compactness of an SSD has made it suitable for ultraportable laptops and consumer electronic devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.
SSD vs. HDD: The cons of solid-state drive
1. Pricey than HDD: One of the major disadvantages of a solid-state drive is the price. An SSD is more expensive than an HDD in terms of dollar per gigabit. Specifically, an SSD with a similar storage capacity as an HDD can be twice as expensive. Computers and other devices equipped with SSDs are generally more expensive. This is due to the added manufacturing cost from procuring solid-state drives.
2. Smaller base storage capacity: The base storage capacity of a hard disk drive is now at 500GB and manufacturers are pushing to standardize a higher capacity amounting to 1TB or more. On the other hand, the base storage capacity of a solid-state drive is 64GB and 128GB. This is the reason why entry-level computers equipped with SSDs have smaller available storage space. Note that there are SSDs with a capacity of 4GB and up. However, they are either rare or very expensive than an HDD.
3. Less available than HDD: It is easier to buy hard disk drives because they are readily available in most computer and consumer electronics retailers. Furthermore, the market for HDDs is flooded by a large number of manufacturers. SSDs are not only more expensive but are also harder to find, especially those variants with higher storage capacity. High manufacturing cost makes solid-state drives unappealing to produce while high end-user price points make them unappealing to retail. However, the market is now leaning toward mobility and SSDs are becoming more available but not as abundant as HDDs.
4. Concern about PE cycles: Another notable disadvantage of a solid-state drive is the supposed limitations in the number of times data can be written and rewritten. Unlike an HDD, an SSD cannot store a single bit of data in a particular block without clearing and rewriting that entire block. However, flash memories have a finite number of writes. Consumer-grade SSDs have 3000 to 5000 read-rewrite or program-erase cycles while the high-end and more expensive variants have 100,000 program-erase cycles. Note that upon reaching the limit, the integrity of an SSD deteriorates and data loss is possible.