Which is the right Hard drive for you SSD vs HDD?
Up until this year, PC buyers had very little choice for what kind of primary storage they got with their laptop, netbook, or desktop. If you bought a netbook or ultraportable, you likely had a solid-state drive (SSD) as the primary drive, all desktop or laptop form factors had a hard disk drive (HDD). Now, you can configure your system with either an HDD, SSD, or in some cases both. But how do you choose?
The traditional spinning hard drive (HDD) is the basic nonvolatile storage on a computer. Hard drives are essentially metal platters with a magnetic coating and that coating stores your data. A read/write head on an arm accesses the data while the platters are spinning in a hard drive enclosure.
An SSD does much the same job functionally as an HDD, but instead of a magnetic coating on top of platters, the data is stored on interconnected flash memory chips that retain the data even when there's no power present. The chips can either be permanently installed on the system's motherboard, on a PCI/PCIe card, or in a box that's sized, shaped, and wired to slot in for a laptop or desktop's hard drive.
Hard drive technology is relatively ancient in the terms of computer history. The first known pictures of IBM 350 RAMAC hard drive from 1956 that used 50 24-inch wide platters to hold a whopping 3.75MB of storage space was the size of two commercial refrigerators standing side by side. The IBM 350 was only used by government and industrial users, and was obsolete by 1969. The PC hard drive form factor standardized in the early 1980s with the desktop-class 5.25-inch form factor, with 3.5-inch desktop and 2.5-inch notebook-class drives. The internal cable interface has changed from Serial to IDE to SCSI to SATA over the years, but it essentially does the same thing: connects the hard drive to the PC's motherboard so your data can be processed. Capacities of Hard drives have grown from multiple megabytes to multiple terabytes, an increase of millions fold. Current 3.5-inch HDDs max out at 4TB, with 2.5-inch drives at 2TB max.
The SSD has a much more recent history. The first primary drives that we know as SSDs started during the rise of netbooks in the late 2000s. The SSD chips on low end PC units are permanently soldered to the motherboard. As netbooks and other ultra portables became more capable, the SSD capacities rose, and eventually standardized on the 2.5-inch notebook form factor. This way, you could pop a 2.5-inch hard drive out of your laptop or desktop and replace it easily with a SSD.
Next week we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages between SSD and HDD hard drives.
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