Do I need a Solid State Drive (SSD) or a Hard Drive Disk (HDD) in my Laptop?
March 16, 2021 | By Ryan Deckard
This has been an age old question asked over and over throughout the last few years as SSDs have become more common
in devices other than gaming computers. Previously a HDD or platter drive as it's also called has been plenty for
the average user, however as time goes on things change and so does the tech required to power the highly advanced
apps we have at our fingertips. The short answer is yes, an SSD is absolutely required for day to day computer use, but
read on to understand why they this is still allowed to happen and how to make an informed decision when purchasing your
next personal computer.
What is a Hard Drive Disk (HDD)?
Record Player by
To start off, Hard Drives have been around for a very long time and still to this day serve a very important purpose in the
computing world and tech industry. They were previously the primary means for running massive servers and providing the main
operating capacity. A standard hard drive has a close relation to the record player of yesteryear, just amplified. Instead of one
disk rotating on an axis you have 3 disks rotating at incredible speeds being written and read from 3 separate very tiny needles
all stacked on top of one another in a compact form. This design has been revised to improve over many years.
The size of the
disks themselves have improved dramatically to make them more compact and provide higher storage capacities. You'll no longer
see previously avaiable 5.5" disks available to the consumer as they were simply too large and antiquated. The standard offerings
now are 3.5" disks for desktop computers and 2.5" disks for laptop computers. We've also seen improvements to the connector
types or Input/Output interface moving away from delicate and bulky ribbon cables to the new and improved SATA connectors
which offer much higher data transfer speeds.
Unfortunatley even with all of these improvements you can only spin a disk so
fast and read at certain speeds from a needle. At a certain point there's too much heat being generated and the moving parts
wear out much faster than preferable. This is where the Solid State Drive comes into play. If you'd like to read more on the
history of the Hard Drive
check out this article for an interesting recount.
What is a Solid State Drive (SSD)?
An SSD is more of a blanket category these days for all current drives without moving parts. Any SSD off the shelf will
automatically be about 10x faster than it's predecessor. That's why here at Deckard Tech in Summerville we offer a wide range
of hard drive upgrade options to meet all of your needs. SSDs are able to acheive these speeds, because they're based off
flash-memory instead of spinning disks. If you know anything about Random Access Memory (RAM) you know why that's such a big deal.
RAM allows a computer to "load in" the necessary components into the Operating System so things like moving your mouse or clicking
through an app isn't based off the speed of your hard drive.
RAM has always been based off flash-memory and it leverages that
speed to provide a better experience to the user. With these much faster speeds and improved performance SSDs come in a little bit
more expensive, but only about $15-$20 more these days. You'll generally see them used as the "OS drive" and be around 128GB or 256GB
in size just to support Windows 10 and a couple pieces of software. Below are a couple different SSD options you might have
available for upgrades on your computer:
- 2.5" SSD - Standard Hard Drive likeness
- SATA M.2 SSD - Still solid state, but much smaller form factor with the popular SATA connector. This is still a newer
technology so most computers out right now won't have this, but is the most common small form factor option
- NVMe M.2 SSD - Improved connector for the M.2 drive for increased speeds. Not very popular in standard computing,
but becoming more common everyday.
As you can see, the tech has come a long way and improvements are always being made. This is by no means an all inclusive list.
If you'd like to read further into the history and technical features of the Solid State Drive
How do I know if I have a Hard Drive or an SSD?
The easiet way I've found to determine if a user has an SSD at a glance is by pulling up the File Explorer or little yellow
folder and clicking My PC. From here you can see the size of your Windows drive. If your computer was made in the last 15 years
and that drive is smaller than 500GB you most likely already have an SSD installed. If that drive is larger than 500GB it's
highly likel you have a regular hard drive. The most commom size is 1TB.
A more technical way of gathering this information is by clicking the start menu and searching "System Information". In that
screen on the left side menu, expand Components > Storage > click Disks. The main screen should change at this
point and it will mention the SSD type in the model and tell you it's Fixed Media.
Why are outdated drives still being used in computers?
There are a lot of different sides to this question, and I'd like to address them all individually:
- Personal Computers - The simple answer to this issues is that they're cheap, and it's an easy marketing tool. Computers
sold these should not use a spinning Hard Drive for the primary functions. The main issue here is that the average user is not
informed when purchasing a new computer. People still like to see those big storage options, which really aren't needed these days.
Sizes like 500GB or 1TB in a computer should generally be associated with large, outdated and clunky. If you pull up a search on
Amazon right now each listing has 8 different configurations for different options you can add for more money. It's like buying
a car. Make sure when deciding on your next device it includes an SSD.
- Servers - Hard drives are still very common in servers due to the amount of storage you can get for the cost. These
drives are extremely cheap for the amount of storage you can get, plus they have more sophisticated tech like RAID arrays that
allow you to write to multiple drives at the same time to improve write speeds. Users also expect data stored on shared drives
to be a little slower so it's not generally seen as an issue if it takes a little longer as long as they can store their
- Backup/Archive Storage - This is the largest reason these drives still exist. Like I mentioned before you can get
a very large amount of storage space for pennies with these types of drives. A popular options my customers choose is to have
me install a second drive alongside their main SSD to store large amounts of data. This typically includes family photos,
large computer games, or backup data for the office. This is also true small business servers and the number 1 defense against
ransomware attacks. These drives are used to make regular backups and then stored offline in a closet. If anything happens to
the live data they have these offline backups they can plug in and get back online much quicker.
To recap what we've gone over here Solid State Drives (SSD) are the newer higher performance drive on the market place compared to
outdated Hard Drive Disks (HDD). Hard drives definitely have their place for storage solutions and backups, but are not a good
option for personal computers even if you don't plan on doing much on the computer. The number one issue I deal with when users
bring their computer in for poor performance is swapping out their old drive with a new SSD. We can generally save all of the users
data and make an exact copy of the computer, but that's not always guaranteed.
Have you started noticing poor perfomance on your
computer? Does it take more than 30 seconds for your computer to turn on? Do you read the news while your emails opens? A simple
hard drive upgrade might be all you need. Give as a call or text at 843-900-4690,
view our services and pricing, or email at