SSD vs HDD: Which is the Best?

ssd vs hdd

SSD vs HDD: The Differences and Which You Need For Your Server

Your business is growing faster than your server can keep up with, and before you know it, your infrastructure is starting to act sluggish, space is running out, and your website or application is slowing down. You have been considering switching to SSD vs HDD, but you aren’t sure if it’s worth the pretty penny.

We give you a breakdown of the pros and cons between SSD vs HDD in terms of speed, capacity, reliability, power, and price, so you can make the best decision for your business.

ssd vs hdd: which one is better?

What is SSD?

A Solid-State Drive (SSD) is a storage device that retains data in flash memory as opposed to a magnetic-based system like a hard disk drive. By definition, “flash memory is an electronic (solid-state) non-volatile computer memory storage medium which can be electrically erased and reprogrammed.”

A solid-state drive is defined by its ability to store information using the reliable attributes of a durable cluster of semiconductors. Because solid-state drives do not depend on moving parts or spinning disks, data is saved to a cluster of memory banks or semiconductors.


What is HDD?

HDD, also known as a traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or Fixed Disk Drive (FDD), is a non-volatile, hardware data storage device attached to a computer or server. An HDD magnetically stores, retrieves, and outputs digital information using a series of stacked rotating metallic disks that have been coated with magnetic material. The rotating disks are paired with an actuator arm that reads and writes the digital data to the disks.


How Much Faster is SSD vs HDD?

Regarding speed, SSD continues to dominate the growth of the hard drive market because of the ongoing improvements being made to the solid-state drive sector by the major manufacturers like SanDisk, Samsung, Sun Microsystems, and Toshiba.

In the server market, SSD offers faster read/write times, which increases server speed by an average of 95% in some cases. This increase, in turn, decreases page load times, leading developers to invest more functionality in web-based applications, which allows users to utilize more functional websites.

Using SSD, the data transfer rate will increase your servers’ overall speed and responsiveness, which provides for a more predictable lifespan.

A typical SSD has access speeds of 40 to 100 microseconds, which is nearly 100 times faster than a HDD. Increased access speed means programs can run quicker, and work gets done with less stress on the server.

Because every storage block is available at the same speed as every other storage block, the rate at which data is accessed and provided is exponentially enhanced. This means that SSD throughput is dramatically faster than a HDD.

What are the Capacity Differences Between SSD vs HDD?

There are multiple offerings when it comes to SSD storage space options: portable, pocket-sized flash drives, external SSD drives, and the server-side internal SSD drives.

Western Digital currently offers the world’s highest capacity, pocket-sized, portable SSD at 8 TB. Samsung offers an external SSD with 16 TB of available for a little over $4000.00.

When it comes to HDD, the Seagate Exos X16 HDD is the world’s highest capacity 3.5-inch 16 TB 7200 RPM drive, which comes in at just shy of $400.

Compare the two price tags with the equivalent storage. Different technologies, different speeds, and much different pricing.

Liquid Web offers multiple SSD options for our Dedicated Servers.

Which is More Reliable Between SSD vs HDD?

SSD drives have no moving parts to wear down or break, which provides better performance and improved reliability over regular hard drives. Additionally, SSD provides enhanced data integrity and endurance since they retain data even when not powered up.

Conversely, according to this study by BackBlaze, 78% of HDD drives will last at least four years, if not more, and these HDD are writing 24/7 (which is not true for the HDD on your server).

Additionally, failure rates for HDDs continue at approximately 2-9 percent per year (based on 2016 numbers) versus SSD, which only have a failure rate of 1-3 percent per year.

This being said, SSD do have a downside. There is a finite number of writes available, which will cause the eventual need for a replacement SSD drive to be employed. Some estimates place about 3,000 write cycles average per cell before breakdown.

Additionally, some drives may arrive from the factory with degraded cells, which can cause an exponentially faster breakdown and cause the early failure of the drive.

Here are a few ways cell degradation can be dealt with for SSD drives.

Over Provisioning for SSD

Modern SSD producers are keenly aware of this issue and, in response, usually add additional memory cells to compensate for this loss. This addition is commonly called over-provisioning, and is typically included from most major manufacturers. This fact implies that in a 120 GB SSD drive, an additional amount of eight GB of NAND memory can usually be added. In enterprise-level SSD drives, some makers include up to 100% of additional over-provisioned memory in order to prevent this problem.

Garbage Collection for SSD

Another technique manufacturers use to prevent issues is called garbage collection. This process identifies when pages become stale, and acts to copy an entire block that has both good data and stale pages. Garbage collection then moves the good pages to an alternate block, and finally, it erases the original block entirely.

Trim for SSD

Additionally, the OS can use a command called Trim. Trim is a command that is sent to an SSD to signal that specific pages or blocks no longer contain valid data. This command doesn’t remove the existing data, but it simply lets the OS know that data in that cluster can be overwritten. This process continually frees up space by allowing for additional writes to take place in those “open spaces.”

As with all SSD processes, the continual use of these commands increases the number of writes, which contributes to the overall decline of the drive lifespan.

Are there Different Power Requirements for SSD vs HDD?

SSD drives require less power and cooling than other types of storage media. SSD produce less heat than HDD, which lowers the need for heat dissipation.

HDD drives generate more heat by the mechanical action of the disk. Under load, SSD use anywhere from 2.5 – 3.5W of power.

Because SSD drives perform better, they spend more time in an idle state compared to a HDD This simply means that an SSD delivers an order of magnitude of increased efficiency per watt than a HDD.

Cost Differences Between SSD vs HDD

There continues to exist a significant market share for HDD. As pricing continues to fall and raid array usage provides a large amount of storage space, SMBs often take advantage of the lowered total cost of ownership traditional storage mediums offer.

Typical costs for high-performance enterprise SSD are about $0.07 per GB, and HDD at around $0.03 GB.

The lower costs associated with larger HDD versus the newer SSD medium permit a reliable alternative option for many businesses, depending on their needs.

SSD vs HDD: Who Wins?

The benefits of using an SSD drive in your current server setup will be shown in an overall increase in capacity, performance, and reliability. This means that with the addition of this type of drive, the amount of data you will be able to store will increase, with an overall lower total cost per gigabyte.

If you are rendering graphics or processing video, SSD drives provide a critical time-savings in the overall conversion time of that data. If analyzing significant amounts of information, SSD offers a drastic reduction in processing time and server load.

Additionally, the ability to stream videos in real-time will dramatically increase, which will allow for no-lag video streaming.

Finally, SSD drives provide the required speed, endurance, and stability you need to ensure your information is shared reliably.

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