Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

A Hard Disk Drive (HDD), also known as a hard drive, is a computer storage device holding magnetic disks or platters spinning at high speeds. It’s the only long-term storage device on most machines. Unlike random access memory (RAM) where data is stored while a computer is in operation, a HDD can store your data after power has been removed and the system has been shut-down. HDDs store your operating system, software programs, and personal data. For years improvements in speed and performance for permanent storage in computing devices were tied to spinning these magnetic disks faster and shrinking the size of the digital tracks on the magnetic media.  Early hard disks spun at 5400 revolutions per second.  Today the most advanced and speediest HDDs spin at 15,000 RPM.  However, there is a brand new alternative that is 50 times faster than even the most advanced 15k HDD – and that is a Solid-State Drive (SSD). HDDs differ from SSDs as SSDs have no moving parts. SSD’s don’t “spin up” from a sleep state, and don’t need to move a drive head to different parts of the drive to access data. SSDs can read and write data at least 50 times faster than traditional HDDs and are much more common today as their prices have come down significantly in recent years.

Source: Techopedia, TechTarget

Related Terms: Solid State Drive (SSD), Random Access Memory (RAM)

What does this mean for an SMB?

Business owners should take a look at the machines they have their staff using. Ensuring that you have up-to-date systems, operating at peak efficiency is helpful to employees performing work tasks in a reasonable time frame. Below are the distinct advantages and disadvantages of HDDs compared to SSDs so you can determine the right storage devices for your SMB.
  1. Cost
    • Traditional HDDs cost much less than SSDs of the same capacity.
  2. Storage Capacity
    • HDDs have much larger capacities in general than SSDs although this gap is closing rapidly.
  3. Compatibility
    • For users upgrading older PCs, it may be easier to find a compatible HDD than a SSD.  However, if you can find a compatible SSD for your aging computer, that will provide you dramatic system performance improvement.
  4. Availability
    • Solid-state drives can be slightly harder to find than the ubiquitous HDD. However, because SSDs are more efficient and powerful, production has risen. In the near future, SSDs will be more available than HDDs.
Hard Disk Drive Disadvantages
  1. Speed
    • HDD speeds depend on its Revolutions Per Minute (RPM).  HDDs perform slower compared to flash memory (SSDs) due to their mechanical nature.
  2. Form Factor
    • Because of the presence of mechanical parts, HDDs have miniaturization limits. For this reason combined with performance and power consumption reasons, SSDs are more suitable for portable devices such as the laptop, tablets, and smartphones.
  3. Power Consumption
    • HDDs rely on rotating disks and the read/write movement of the drive head. These mechanical parts need more power to function than an SSD.
  4. Noise
    • Due to the constant rotation of the hard drive disks and the movement of the read/write head, there is a distracting noise produced by the hard drive; also contributing to vibrations. Their noise is more noticeable when the hard drive is in heavy operations like accessing large files. SSDs produce no noise at all.
  5. Reliability
    • A hard disk drive is more vulnerable to mechanical failures since they contain moving parts. The disks and the read/write head present in HDD is located in close proximity to one other. Whenever there are drops and shakings they can scrape each other causing damages. This can result in overall device corruption. Manufacturers of laptops have largely migrated to SSDs for this reason in addition to temperature and humidity considerations being more damaging to HDDs than SSDs.

CyberHoot loves SSDs a good deal. Performance, reliability, compatibility, and capacities are now a compelling reason to consider using SSDs for all but a few special cases.  For example, applications that record and therefore write a lot of data repeatedly are not good for some types of SSDs.  Outside of this edge case, CyberHoot recommends you consider an SSD for your desktop and laptop equipment purchases.

To learn more about the difference between HDDs and SSDs, watch this short video:

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