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SSD vs. HDD – Which is Best for You?

By ·Categories: Tech Explained·Published On: February 2nd, 2022·3.5 min read·

SSD vs HDD – a common question among computer enthusiasts. When it comes to storing data on your computer, you have quite a few options. One key decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to use traditional hard disk drives, called HDDs, or solid state drives, known as SSDs. But what’s the difference? And how do you know which is best for your particular build? Check out our Tech Edge video or continue reading the summary.

HDD – Hard Disk Drive

Hard Disk Drives work by storing information on a series of spinning platters. Information is read by a head, similar to the way a vinyl record player produces sound. This is a mechanical process that happens very fast, but is still limited by the physics of the HDD head moving from place to place on the platters.

SSD – Solid State Drive

Solid State Drives on the other hand, store information on flash memory. It can be accessed by the memory controller in a purely digital exchange. As such, the term solid state refers to the fact that SSDs have no moving parts. It also means that they’re capable of accessing information faster than HDDs.

SSD More Reliable in Vibration Prone Environments 

So, given those key differences, if your PC is installed in an environment that’s subject to vibration or movement, an SSD is likely going to be the best choice. Tests have shown that an SSD can handle as much as 25 times more shock and vibration than an HDD without resulting in damage or data loss. 

Returning to the record player analogy, you can imagine how terrible your listening experience would be if you tried to play a record in a car driving down a bumpy road. When it comes to writing data to a spinning HDD, imagine each of those skips representing potential data loss or damage to the disk itself.

SSD is Faster

Another disadvantage of HDDs is speed, and that’s related to the mechanical design we referenced earlier. It takes time for the section of data you want on the spinning platter to line up with the read head. The technical term for this delay is access latency. And, it can have a significant impact on performance, especially on smaller read requests that aren’t sequential. Conversely, SSDs have a direct digital pathway to each storage area. This significantly reduces the time it takes to access it. 

HDDs are Less Expensive

In general, we tend to recommend SSDs to the majority of our industrial computing clients because of their speed and reliability. That said, while SSDs have come down in price over the years, HDDs still generally have a lower cost per gigabyte. If you need to store large amounts of data in a cost effective way, can accommodate the access latency and your installation isn’t subject to any vibration or impact forces, HDDs are still an option.

HDD Has Better Write Endurance

One other characteristic of SSDs worth noting is that their flash cells can only be rewritten so many times. This limitation is called write endurance and it is typically measured in DWPD – drive writes per day – or TBW – TeraBytes Written. As an example, the Transcend 652 series has a DWPD of 2. This means that you can fill the entire SSD with data 2 times per day and it will last through the 3 year warranty period. As such, applications with heavy, repeated sequential disk writes, like surveillance or image acquisition, might be better served using HDDs to optimize the longevity of the drives.

SSD vs. HDD – Power Considerations 

The way you deliver power to your computer is also a key storage consideration. An unexpected power loss can damage both HDDs and SSDs. And, going long periods without powering an SSD can result in data loss over time. How impactful this will be on your application will depend on the way you use your data. That is why we always recommend working with one of our solutions architects when configuring an industrial computing solution.

Ready to start your project? Explore our solutions or contact our knowledgeable and helpful technical sales team today! 


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About the Author: Sarah Lavoie

Sarah Lavoie is a content creator for OnLogic. When not writing, she can usually be found exploring the Vermont landscape with her camera looking to photograph something amazing.

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