Is HDD better or SSD? SSD Vs HDD lifespan? To all these questions, I would say there is no straightforward answer.
Choosing the right storage with a better lifespan isn’t just about reading the package of your hard drive and warranty given by manufacturers. There are other things to consider as well.
So, let’s dive in to understand about the differences between HDDs and SSDs, the form factors available, how they compare in lifespan, reliability, and more.
That is why we will see what is best in what condition
Basics of HDD and SSD
Before discussing the lifespan or reliability of SSD or HDD. We first need to have a bit of understanding about them both and how they work.
What is an HDD?
A hard disk drive (HDD) is a data storage device which stores data magnetically with the help of spinning disks (Also called platter because of being rigid in structure).
The data is written on the disks with “heads” which are arranged on an “actuator arm”
HDD has been available in the market much before the SSDs. They come majorly in two form factors –
- Big 3.5 inch used in desktop computers
- Smaller 2.5 inch, used in laptops
What is an SSD?
Solid-state drive (SSD) is a data storage device which stores data electrically through circuit boards which has flash memory chips on it.
The Flash memory which used SSD’s is NAND Flash (Know more about it here). Then there is a controller unit which controls the data on SSD.
SSDs do not have any moving parts in them. They are called solid state because they have no moving state.
Because of no moving parts in, SSDs are lighter and smaller than HDD’s. Making them flexible for smaller use cases.
Quick reference Table – SSD vs. HDD
Now that we have some heads up, let’s jump right in to the actual discussion.
|Factor||Hard Disk Drive (HDD)||Solid-State Drive (SSD)|
|Performance||Offer much better performance|
|Cost||HDDs are cheaper|
|General Lifespan and Reliability||SSDs are better|
|Very Long-term storage/Archival storage||HDDs are better|
|Physical Damage (drops, vibrations etc.)||SSDs are better at handling|
|Energy Consumption||more efficient|
|Size, Dimensions, and Weight||SSDs are more compact and lightweight|
|Failure Rate in General Usage||Less fail percentage|
|Data recovery in case of failure||Easier to recover data|
SSD vs. HDD : lifespan
The general life span of an average consumer hard drive (SSDs or HDDs) is roughly similar to around 4–5 years. Most manufacturers give a warranty period of 3–5 years. But in most cases, it goes much beyond that.
Even though, SSDs have limited r/w cycles (also called p/e cycle or program/erase)–which is how many times a drive can read and write data in its lifetime. This is because of the electrical nature of IC used in SSD.
Still, most modern SSDs can will easily outlast average consumer use case. The manufacturers of SSD give this estimate in terabyte(s) written (TBW). This means how much TB of data can be written to drive over its overall lifespan.
The average TBW given for a typical 250 GB SSD ranges from 70TBW to 150 TBW. Let’s take 70TBW. If you write 30 GB per day on your hard drive. It will take approximately 6 years to reach that 70 TB limit.
For your normal usage, 30 GB is still a lot. Add to it, these reported numbers are still lower than the real TBWs. As per the test conducted by a German tech magazine here. The real TBW are around 3 to10 times more than the reported figures.
For higher capacity and higher quality SSDs, the TBW is even higher. This clearly proves fear of a limited lifespan is just exaggerated, mostly.
Even though HDDs have no such limit, HDD usually fails earlier because of mechanical reasons like damaged head, motor failure, etc.
In most general use case scenarios, modern SSDs will have more lifespan
To conclude, the rule of thumb should be to seek for replacing your hard drives after 5 years.
SSD vs. HDD : Reliability
In most cases, SSDs are more reliable than HDD. Because of no moving parts in SSDs. They are less prone to mechanical failures, more resistant to accidental drops and rough usage.
On the other hand, HDD has moving parts and is more prone to failure if dropped. As, the head and disk (platter) can get misaligned or lead to other issues.
HDD or SSD? Long-Term Storage/Archival storage.
Here, we are talking about a scenario in which you just copy your data on a hard drive and just stash it away for a very long duration, may be for multiple years.
Here, HDDs are preferable. Mainly due to two reasons. Cost and the storage type.
HDDs store data in magnetic form, which is more suitable for long-term storage compared to SSDs, which store data electrically as electrical charge. They can lose their data if left disconnected for a long time because of leakage of charge.
With that said, the modern SSDs are becoming more and more efficient for the long-term situation. But still HDDs are preferable for the long term, because of their magnetic storage type.
Moreover, what makes HDD more suitable here is cost. HDD are comparatively cheaper than SSD. And why you will buy your premium SSD just to keep it in your cupboard stashed away.
SSD vs. HDD: Failure
The failure rate of modern SSDs is less than that of HDDs. In a scientific study conducted, it shows that the failure rate of SSDs (failure rate of 0.5% to 1%) is much lower than HDDs (failure rate of 2-5%).
But, one thing to keep in mind is, even though SSDs fail less than HDDs. They fail abruptly compared to HDDs. That is why keeping a check on SSDs working becomes important. Luckily, you can use disk monitoring tools like crystaldiskinfo (for windows) or Smart Reporter Lite (for mac) which helps in identifying how the SSDs are working.
For HDD, they will frequently give warning signs before failing – weird sounds, slow performance, corrupted files, etc
Finally, your SSDs will fail less often than HDD in most normal usages.
Data Recovery : SSD vs. HDD
While SSDs are more reliable and durable than HDD. Data recovery is a whole another game.
Recovering data from SSD is very difficult compared to HDD.
This is because of the complex circuit design of SSDs and the use of controllers to manage data in SSDs.
In contrast, data recovery from HDDs is easier than SSDs.
Bonus Tip : Backups are the most important
Whether you go with SSD or HDD. Everything will eventually fail. Backup is the most significant thing you should have. Backups are the only thing that will help you in case of any failure.
Ideally, follow a 3-2-1 scheme.
- You should have 3 copies of your data
- Your data should be backup up in 2 different mediums (like–HDD, cloud backups etc.)
- Keep 1 copy in some off-site location. Different from your usual locations.
This may sound over the top. But you have to decide how significant is your data to you.
Summing it Up
The world of storage and Hard drive is constantly changing.
While SSDs are getting more and more popular because of their high-performance and good reliability. HDDs are not going anywhere soon. Because of their cheap costs and many innovations coming in them.
SSD vs. HDD topic is here to stay. Please let me know in comments if I have missed any point? How has been your experience with SSD or HDD?
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