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The main difference between solid-state drives (SSD) vs a hard drive is in how data is stored and accessed. A hard disk drive (HDD) is a traditional storage device that uses mechanical platters and a moving read/write head to access data. A solid-state drive (SSD) is a newer, faster type of device that stores data on instantly-accessible memory chips.

What Is an HDD?

An HDD is a data storage device that lives inside the computer. It has spinning disks inside where data is stored magnetically. The HDD has an arm with several “heads” (transducers) that read and write data on the disk. It is similar to how a turntable record player works, with an LP record (hard disk) and a needle on an arm (transducers). The arm moves the heads across the surface of the disk to access different data.

They are available in two common form factors: 2.5 inch (commonly used in laptops) and 3.5 inch (desktop computers).

What Is an SSD?

SSDs got their name – solid state -because they use solid-state devices under the hood. In an SSD, all data is stored in integrated circuits. This difference from HDDs has a lot of implications, especially in size and performance. Without the need for a spinning disk, SSDs can reduce to the shape and size of a stick of gum. Their capacity – or how much data they can hold -varies, making them flexible for smaller devices, such as slim laptops, convertibles, or 2 in 1s. And SSDs dramatically reduce access time since users don’t have to wait for platter rotation to start up.

SSDs are more expensive than HDDs per amount of storage (in gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB)), but the gap is closing as SSD prices decline at a faster pace than HDD prices year over year.

How much faster is a SSD than a traditional HDD

A solid-state drive reads up to 10 times faster and writes up to 20 times faster than a hard disk drive. These are not outlying numbers, either, but the speeds of mid-range drives in each class. And the differences in speed are expected only to increase as computer motherboards progress from PCIe 3.0 to 4.0 connectors.

SSDs work so much faster than HDDs that a new interface – the connection between the drive and your computer’s motherboard – had to be invented to unleash their full power. They previously made use of the SATA interface, a holdover from the days when hard disk drives reigned supreme. This allowed people to easily replace their HDDs with SSDs, which was a necessary step in the transition to solid-state drives.

What’s the lifespan of an SSD

There are lots of myths surrounding SSD life spans, and the assumptions go back to the early days of SSDs in the 1990s and early 2000s. It is true that SSD cells have a limited lifespan, but this isn’t really an issue today.

In theory, the more data written to a cell, the faster it wears out. Nowadays, an SSD cell survives about 3,000 write cycles, which doesn’t sound like much at first. However thanks to the principle of put on leveling, the SSD controller makes sure that write operations are unfolding lightly across all cells if you want to decrease “mobile death.” moreover, modern-day SSDs incorporate spare cells with a purpose to update cells that move horrific. This is known as terrible block management, and it’s why the large the SSD, the longer its lifespan.

However, even if you were to constantly (24 hours a day) write data onto a hard disk, you’d still have decades until the disk eventually dies.

Price differences between HDDs and SSDs

The market for flash storage is volatile and varies based on supply and demand. While the price for SSDs has decreased a lot, there is still a significant price difference. A 500 GB HDD costs between $25 and $50 (for faster, higher-end models), whereas a 500 GB SSD costs anywhere from around $60 to $150. Naturally, these prices will change over time.

The Storage of Tomorrow

It’s unclear whether SSDs will totally replace traditional spinning hard drives, especially with shared cloud storage waiting in the wings. The price of SSDs is coming down, but they’re still too expensive to fully replace the terabytes of data that some users have in their PCs and Macs for mass storage that doesn’t need to be fast, just simply there. Cloud storage isn’t free, either: You’ll continue to pay as long as you want personal storage on the internet. Local storage won’t go away until we have reliable wireless Internet everywhere, including in planes and out in the wilderness. Of course, by that time, there may be something better.

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