If you are shopping for a hard drive then you will find yourself presented with two different types of drives to choose from: a solid state drive (SSD) or a hard disk drive (HDD). The latter is the most common and is currently the standard in the majority of computers and was invented by IBM in 1954. The former is a newer technology and is considered to be the superior, having increased in popularity over the years. However, it’s not as simple as going for a SSD since both offer their own positives and negatives. So which is best for you?


A hard drive works by hovering a read-and-write head over a spinning platter in order to access the data that is stored on it. A solid state drive is different and uses a memory chip, much like you’d find in a common USB stick, which stores data without using any power meaning that your laptop battery will last longer. Whereas in a HDD you have to wait for the platters to spin to access your data, with a SSD it is available straight away and is up to 30% faster when opening files than its counterpart. This means that you will be able to boot up your computer quicker, at around half the time it’d take for a disk drive. This also means that there is a reduced chance of failure, since a common problem with a standard hard drive is when the delicate platters can become damaged for a whole variety of reasons. For example, if there is a lot of vibration going through the drive then the platter and the head will collide and scratch the platter. Since this destroys your data, this is something you want to be steering clear of as far as possible. Although there has been advancements and drives are more protected then they used to be it still remains a common problem.

So far it may seem clear that a SSD comes out trumps. However, there are some pitfalls to consider. The amount of storage you get is far less than that of a HDD and it is comparably very expensive. If you need a lot of storage space for things such as games, videos and pictures and you’re on a tight budget then a hard disk drive is probably best for you. The money you’re saving could be used elsewhere on the computer - on the CPU for example - where the improvement might be more noticeable. Although it is slightly slower, the difference is not worth paying for if you’re a standard home user rather than an enthusiast. One option could be to get a SSD to store your operating system on (meaning a faster boot up time) and then getting a large HDD to keep all those big files on. In the end a solid state drive will become increasingly standard as they are technically superior, but at the moment they’re too expensive.

Another point to remember: although SSDs may be far less prone to physical failure, they are not immune. The best way to safeguard your data is to back it up regularly. If you are conscientious about backing up your data, it certainly makes sense to use a large capacity HDD.