An image of an SSD or solid-state drive manufactured by SanDisk

SSD: Advantages and Disadvantages of Solid-State Drive

A solid-state drive or SSD is a solid-state electronic device, a type of storage medium, and a specific type of solid-state storage device that uses interconnected flash memories or integrated circuit assemblies to store data persistently even without power. Hence, 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 moving components provides solid-state drives great advantage over hard disk drives. This article lists and discusses the benefits and advantages, as well as the limitations and disadvantages or the pros and cons of solid-state drive when compared to a hard disk drive.

Pros of SSD: Advantages of Solid-State Drive vs Hard Disk Drive

1. Faster Read-Write Speed

One of the notable pros or advantages of a solid-state drive over a hard disk drive is speed. SSDs are 25 to 100 times faster than hard disk drives. Take note than 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. An SSD is inherently faster because of the absence of mechanical parts and non-susceptibility to data fragmentation. These translate to faster boot times, more efficient read and write, quicker file transfer, and better bandwidth.

2. More Energy Efficient

An SSD also consumes less power than HDD. It has an idle power consumption of between 0.1 watts and 1.5 watts and an active power consumption of between 2 watts and 5 watts. This is lower than an HDD which requires about 1 watt to 2 watts while inactive and 5 watts to 10 watts during operations. This higher power consumption of an HDD comes from the needed power input do the mechanical work and become operational. An SSD is more energy efficient because it has no moving parts and is more efficient at storing and retrieving data.

3. Tougher Than HDD

Durability and longevity are 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. Devices equipped with hard disk drives are more prone to data loss due to mechanical failure when carried transported around.

4. Noise-Free Operation

A hard disk drive can produce sounds and vibrations while in operation due to the movement of its read-write head and rotation of its metallic disk plate. These become more noticeable during extensive reading and writing operations or when processing large amounts of data. The noises and vibrations are more evident in mid-tier and low-end units from several manufacturers. The noise can be distracting and annoying for certain users. 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

A small form factor is also an advantage of a solid-state drive. An HDD is bulkier because its enclosure includes a magnetic head and metallic disk. An SSD is made up of small integrated circuits. Hence, for comparison, a 256GB to 1TB solid-state drive can be about 90 percent thinner and about 80 percent overall smaller than a hard disk drive with similar storage capacities. The compactness of an SSD makes it more suitable for ultraportable laptops and consumer electronic devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.

Cons of SSD: Disadvantages of Solid-State Drive vs Hard Disk Drive

1. More Expensive Than HDD

One of the main disadvantages of a solid-state drive is price. An SSD is more expensive than an HDD drive in terms of dollar per gigabit. A particular SSD can be twice more expensive than an HDD with a similar storage capacity. The price of high-end SSDs such as an NVMe SSD can even be at least thrice the price of a SAS HDD. Devices equipped with solid-state drives are also more expensive. This higher price tag comes from the more complicated manufacturing processes and additional manufacturing costs of producing solid-state drives.

2. Smaller Base Storage Capacity

The base storage capacity of a hard-disk drive is now at 500GB. Manufacturers such as SanDisk and Samsung have now pushed to standardize a higher capacity of 1TB or more. The base storage capacity desktop-grade solid-state drive is between 128GB and 256GB. This is a notable disadvantage of SSDs. This smaller base storage capacity is the reason why entry-level electronic devices equipped with solid-state drives have smaller available storage space. There are SSDs with 4TB or more storage but they are very expensive and can be hard to find.

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. The specific market is flooded with HDDs from a large number of manufacturers. High-quality SSDs are both expensive and hard to find. This is also true for solid-state drives with high storage capacities. The high manufacturing cost makes solid-state storage devices unappealing to produce. However, because the greater market is leaning toward mobility, SSDs are becoming more available but not as abundant as HDDs.

4. Read-Write Cycles Concerns

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. 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 100000 program-erase cycles. The integrity of an SSD deteriorates and data loss is possible upon reaching the limit.

Takeaway: Advantages and Disadvantages of Solid-State Drive

Based on the pros and cons of a solid-state drive or SSD, especially when compared to hard disk drives or HDD, this storage device is more suitable for portable consumer electronic devices and in use cases in which power efficiency and faster data storage and retrieval are critical. However, because of their higher price point, in addition to concerns about limited read-write or program-erase cycles, hard disk drives or HDDs are still the best option for data-critical uses cases such as repeated data backup processes, long-term data storage, and extensive read and write processes. These use cases are prominent in enterprises or large organizations, and in data centers.