Hard disk, hard drives are a fundamental part of computers, that play a major role when it comes to storage of data and we have all seen how time changes and improved versions have been brought into the market such external hard dives and now the recent SSD.

Standard HardDisks contain multiple disks called platters, which are covered in a magnetic coating and then rotated at high speed. Drive heads then move across the platters, changing the magnetisation of the material beneath to record data, or reading its state to return the stored information. Both reading and writing data requires a lot of work, for instance. Heads must move around, and the platter must spin to exactly the right point before the drive can do anything. This all takes time, and is why hard drives are one of the major performance bottlenecks in many PCs. Having to move all these components around also means there’s a constant power drain, an issue with laptops and netbooks. And the drive heads gets incredibly close to the platter – a tiny fraction of the thickness of a human hair – so if there’s a shock at the wrong time then the two may collide, damaging the drive and losing data. Drive manufacturers employ a range of technologies to prevent this from happening, and as a result these head crashes are rare, but they can’t be ruled out entirely – there’s always some risk. You don’t have to live with these issues, though: SSD technology can address them all, though at a significant price.

SSD vs HDD: The SSD alternative

Solid state drives (SSDs) take a very different approach to data storage.

They ditch the platters, the heads, all those fast-moving components which cause such problems, replacing them with something much simpler: memory chips. The exact type of chips vary, but most drives use flash memory (essentially the same technology that’s used in cameras, MP3 players, memory cards and more) which is able to store data even without any power.

This technology can be expensive, and means SSD drives generally have low capacities and high prices.

But by way of compensation you do get excellent performance. A standard hard drive may take several seconds for its platters to reach full speed, for instance: SSDs are always ready to go immediately. And an SSD doesn’t have to move its head around, or wait for the platter to reach a particular point before it can read data, so its access time can be 50 times faster than a regular drive.

SSD read and write speeds are much closer to HDD technology, though, so the overall performance gain won’t be nearly so spectacular. Still, equipping a PC with a solid state drive could easily halve the time it takes to boot the system, and that’s a benefit worth having.

Other SSD advantages include excellent shock resistance (you’re not going to lose data just because you drop one). They’re also silent, and lighter than their HDD cousins.

And SSDs have very low power consumption, especially when idle or reading data. The hard drive is responsible for only a small fraction of total power use, so this may only extend laptop battery life by 5 or 10 minutes, but, again, even that could be a benefit worth having.


When you look at the two technologies, then, it’s clear that solid state drives are technically superior in many areas. But there’s a problem: they’re also expensive, and with much lower capacities.

Right now, for instance, you can buy two terabyte HDD drives from as little as £87

Spend the same amount of cash on a solid state drive, though, and you’ll get only around 3% of that capacity: 64GB, at best. Higher capacity drives are available, but they’re prohibitively expensive: a 480GB model, say, might cost you close to £1,000.(FUCKIN EXPENSIVE)!!!.

Unless you have unlimited funds, then, your first drive for a desktop should always be a standard HDD model. Prices are incredibly low – you can buy a budget 750GB drive for under £30, say – and while the performance may not be up to SSD standards, it’ll be adequate for most tasks, and the money you save can give you a more significant speed boost when used elsewhere (you might buy a faster CPU, for instance).

If you’re looking to optimise an existing desktop, though, then an SSD can be very useful. The idea is that you buy a fast 40GB drive for under £100, where you’ll install Windows, while your data and applications are then installed on a regular hard drive.

You’ll then benefit from faster boot times, and a general speed boost as Windows components are loaded more quickly. And while your SSD is small, it’ll still have the space to install one or two drive-intensive applications – games, say – to ensure they deliver the fastest possible speeds. COURTESY OF TECHRADAR.COM

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