Hard drives come in multiple formats to allow users to store data in the most convenient way. It’s essential to keep important data such as documents, photos and videos protected and easy to access for your needs. The three main types of hard drives used currently are USB “thumb” drives, traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDD) that have been around for decades, and the newest form—Solid State Drive or SSD.
The Original – HDD
The first, and most common, type of hard drive is a standard HDD that goes inside of your desktop or laptop computer. It is the cheapest option and easy to locate at computer stores. The cost per gigabyte narrows down to from 20 to 30 cents per gigabyte, making it the most cost-effective storage solution. It is faster to access than a USB drive, but slower than the SSD.
Since the Hard Disk Drive uses mechanical parts to access data via moving heads and rotating platters, it is also subjected to failure with excess usage. When the drive first gets powered up after being turned off for any period of time, it needs to spin up. This also delays accessing the information which can result in a 5 to 10 millisecond wait before retrieving data. Additionally, data on a HDD has the tendency to become fragmented due to where it gets stored on the drive. This requires the drive to be defragmented occasionally to keep performance optimal. If you eventually get bad sectors it may take the use of a data recovery cableto recover this data.
Traditional Hard Disk Drives aren’t limited by the number of writes they can make to a single section of the platter and they can overwrite the data in any sector, regardless of where it is located on the drive. They are also boast the highest capacities of the drive types with affordable options available in sizes 1TB or larger. Use an internal HDD to store operating system information or programs that need to be accessed quickly.
Portable Large Storage – USB
USB hard drives are the optimal choice for portability. USB drives are more expensive than internal HDDs, but less expensive than SSDs. Sizes are adequate for storing pictures and videos, but read and write speeds are slower than with an internal drive. Even with the newest USB 3.0 technology, speeds are approximately half that of the internal HDDs. They are not ideal when you want to access information quickly, but have a convenience factor that cannot be rivaled.
Solid State – Faster Option
SSD or solid-state drives are the newest and rising technology for storing data. Their cost is the primary prohibitive factor. Even the most affordable SSD options cost up to $3 per gigabyte. Due to the costs, SSDs are made in much smaller sizes than traditional HDDs. Access speed is the major advantage available when using a SSD. Since the drive doesn’t need to spin up, like it does with a traditional HDD, access is nearly instant.
Additionally, since data can instantly be read from anywhere on the disc instead of in a specific section where it is stored, there is little, if any, latency time. Data only takes 0.1 millisecond for random access time due to the method of information storage. Performance of the drive does not depend on where the data gets stored and thus, does not require defragmentation.
SSDs do not have any problems with mechanical reliability because they don’t have any moving parts and also are virtually silent. Since heads and platters don’t rotate, shock and vibration don’t pose a risk of damage to the data. They do have a limited number of write cycles, however—typically in the 1 to 5 million range, which limits their lifespan. Security limitations also arise with SSDs since NAND flash memory cannot be overwritten. Special secure erase procedures must be built-in to the drive to ensure the data is not readable once deleted. Finally, SSDs use less power to operate than traditional hard drives.
In conclusion, one single drive does not conform to everyone’s needs and should be selected based on data and costs. In some systems you may find that it’s beneficial to have more than one type of drive for optimal performance and reliability.