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Which is better an SSD (solid state drive) or a hard drive? Honestly, it’s like asking, “Which is better a bike or a motorcycle?” You may think that’s an odd and unhelpful comparison and you may be right. Here’s the reason for that: They’re just different!

Performance

SSDs blow hard drives out of the water where speed is concerned.
SSDs blow hard drives out of the water where speed is concerned.

Let’s start off with performance. When it comes to raw speed, SSDs are much, much faster. Many people compare the sequential speed of an SSD to the sequential speed of a hard drive and say, “Oh, well, they’re kind of similar.” However, the reality of it is unless you copy large files back and forth all day, this specification is pretty much meaningless. It has nothing to do with the way that they will perceive the performance in the real world. SSDs are all about little data transactions that happen all the time, all over the place, when you’re running something like an operating system on them. An instant message comes through. A program launches and needs to access a ton of little files all over the place.

Realiability

Head and platters detail of a hard disk drive Seagate Medalist ST33232A
Head and platters detail of a hard disk drive Seagate Medalist ST33232A

What about reliability? Now, this one is a little bit complicated. Hard drives are pretty reliable these days, but as devices with moving parts, they will die eventually. The good news is they usually give warning signs. If your hard drive is making clicking noises right now, for example, then chances are it may be on it’s last legs. The bad news is that any kind of use will wear them out. For SSDs, reading from them a lot won’t really wear them out very much at all, especially, if you keep them running cool, however if you write to them heavily, you can kill a consumer-grade model relatively quickly.
I guess I’d put it this way. In an environment where shock and constant bumping and moving is an everyday occurrence, such as in a notebook or tablet, I would choose an SSD every time. In an environment where that’s not the case, then reliability to me is a secondary factor after I determine my performance and storage needs, which leads us to the in-between solution, hybrid drives. These leverage the technology of hard drives and SSDs at the same time.

And one last point, many people often ask “should I buy an SSD for gaming?” in my opinion this should be your setup: 1 SSD for your operating system and whatever files/games you want to get best performance from, and 1 large HDD for your mass storage of files such as music, movies, and all that other stuff you torrent.

TL;DR:

SSD: Speed and longevity.

HDD: Better price per gig, better for mass storage.

Best of both worlds: Hybrid drives.