For price-conscious clients, there’s no question: HDDs are a better choice than SSDs. At least, that is their usual knee-jerk reaction when they look at the prices of comparable-capacity SSDs and HDDs.
Of course, only looking at any product’s initial price is a mistake for anyone doing long-term financial planning. This is because the 'total cost' of a product goes well beyond its initial price. Over time, a product’s total cost encompasses how much time has to be devoted to it by paid service staff; the lost productivity caused by its downtime, and the actual averaging of the purchase price against how long the product actually worked for. The cheapest storage media is no bargain if it only works for two months.
All of these expenses factor into a product’s total cost, because at some point or another all of these costs have been generated by the product in question.
Based on this understanding, how do SSDs stack up against HDDs in the long term? Well, if you hoping for hard-and-fast numbers, you are out of luck: The variability between makes and models of SSDs and HDDs makes it difficult to say that – for instance – an SSD lasts precisely X times longer than a comparable HDD.
Given this fact, the logical way to form a long-term HDD and SSD comparison and to assess their lifetime total costs, is to consider the differences between their respective architectures.
Without a doubt, the biggest architectural difference between SSDs and HDDs is that SSDs have no moving parts, while HDDs have many of them. It’s all those HDD spinning platters and actuator arms that do the moving; suffering ongoing damage due to friction and just plain wear.
This same difference explains why SSDs are so much tougher than HDDs when exposed to shocks and bumps. SSDs have no moving parts to knock out of alignment; let alone bend, break and shatter. HDDs have many of them. That’s why you don’t want to ever drop one.
The second big difference is data access: Because they don’t use mechanical means to read/write data, SSDs are up to 2.75 times faster than the fastest HDDs.
Faster access means faster boot times, better multitasking, and thus better PC performance. This is particularly noteworthy on older PCS who have had SSDs installed to run their operating systems and programs.
Faster data access also means less frustrated users, which means higher productivity and better staff morale. That last benefit is akin to the psychological difference between using broadband and dial-up Internet access. Those who can get fast access to the web are in a better mood, and more able to focus on the work to be done -- rather than sitting impatiently, waiting for that work to load.
Remember that lack of SSD moving parts? No parts to power means that SSDs use less electricity than HDDs. They also run cooler – again because there’s no friction-based heat being generated by SSDs – and don’t make all of those annoying clicks, buzzes and other noises that HDDs emit.
Put it altogether, and here’s the storage media choice that your customer has to make:
A) They can choose less-expensive HDDs that are comparatively frail and more vulnerable to failure, with noisy moving parts that wear out, gobble power and spew out heat – and access data faster, with ever-slower access as their files are fragmented into noncontiguous disk locations due to repeated read/write cycles.
B) Your client can spend more upfront on SSDs that are tougher and less failure-prone. Lacking moving parts, these SSDs run quiet, sip power, and stay cool. They also access data faster than HDDs, even as they age – and never need to be defragmented.
Which one would you choose?