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Coexist: SSDs and HDDs

November 29, 2018

Coexist: SSDs and HDDs

Remember when you really didn’t have much choice when it came to storage types? If you owned a standard desktop or laptop, it ran on traditional hard drives with spinning disks (HDD). If you had a small, lightweight, mini laptop, it ran on solid-state flash memory (SSD).

Fortunately, depending on needs, pros and consumers can now configure their systems with HDD, SSD or even a hybrid of both. After all, they both accomplish the same tasks, just in different ways.

Make no mistake, spin-free SSD technology is the cool kid on the storage block. After all, Gartner predicts that up to 25% of data centers may use all-flash arrays for primary storage by 2020, with ROI of under six months in some cases. However, there’s still a market for high-capacity, low-cost hard disk drives—or a combination of both technologies.

What our experts say about SSD, HDD or hybrid storage:

The need for speed
Let’s cut to the primary reason SSD is gaining market share—speed. As in much faster than HDDs. An SSD-enabled system can boot up in seconds. It also runs apps faster, launches faster and transfers files faster. Think of the SSD-powered speed needed for genome research, graphics rendering and thousands of other data-heavy undertakings.

Have you ever heard anyone complain that their computer was too fast? Since speed plays in all markets—business, consumer, government, education—the future is bright for SSD manufacturers. 

Cost counts
HDDs win in this category, as SSDs can cost up to six times more per gig than HDDs. That prices many consumers and SMBs out of the SSD market. But let’s not forget the obvious—technology costs can decrease quickly, which results in ROI being recognized earlier. In 1981, hard drive prices were as high as $500,000 per gig. Yikes.

Today, HDDs can cost only pennies per gig. Although SSDs are more expensive, at least consumers can now afford them. A few years ago, only enterprises considered SSDs.  

There's brilliance in resilience 
Since desktop usage decreases each year, laptops dominate how end users live, work and play. Being carried back and forth from home to office, laptops are often at risk for being dropped and are subjected to numerous other forms of daily abuse. Since HDDs consist of spinning platters with a read head, these mechanical parts can easily be damaged in transport. This can create an unsafe environment for your stored data.  

Because SSDs have no moving parts, they’re much more shock resistant. They can survive better during your daily commute and travel, withstanding up to 1500g during operation. Plus, in the enterprise market, with rack space at a premium, the smaller SSD drives are becoming more essential and practical for businesses.

The hybrid advantage
Want to have your storage cake and eat it too? (That sounds odd, but you get it.) OEMs produce hybrid storage drives that include HDD and SSD storage in a single encasement. For what reason, you ask? The operating system and often-used production applications go on the SSD, and the HDD stores files and lesser-used applications.

This best-of-both worlds scenario is used at the server level as well—hard drives are used for backup and performance-heavy needs are met with SSD.

Are you a data center pro? Learn how high-density data centers can reduce operational costs.