Both a solid-state drive (SSD) and hard disk drive (HDD) store computer data and they’re widely used for backups. How data’s stored and accessed is the main difference.

Here we’ll dive deeper into each and explain why you’d choose one over the other.

Solid-state drive (SSD)

Solid-state drive (SSDs) are a newer type of storage media that uses memory chips to store data. Think of a USB thumb drive (aka flash drive) that can store a lot of information.

The advantage of an SSD is faster access to data by using memory chips rather than a physical spinning disk that’s found in hard drives.

One typical use of an SSD includes using it as the primary operating drive for your computer.

Its fast access makes the overall experience snappier and streamlined. No more waiting 30 seconds for a program to load. No more “warming up” the computer for 5 minutes.

We’ve also seen a huge uptick in the multimedia industry for SSD usage. Videographers shooting raw 4k to 8k video are using A LOT of storage capacity for their creative projects. And they also need the performance from an SSD while they edit their projects.

For example, one minute of raw footage in 8k full format is about 4 GB, according to Red’s Red Ranger camera shooting in 24 frames per second and a 10:1 redcode ratio.

Hard disk drive (HDD)

Hard drives (HDDs) are the most ubiquitous type of data storage media around. For decades, we’ve used hard drives in a 3.5-inch physical form factor (and later in a laptop 2.5-inch physical form factor).

Even today, you likely have a hard drive in a computer sitting at home, school, or workplace.

By 2020 standards, hard drives are the most affordable way to store data locally (meaning not using the internet or “the cloud”).

You can store hundreds of thousands of computer files and thousands of hours of music and/or video for less than $100 USD (using a 4TB HDD).

Hard drives are quite affordable for their capacities. They’re great as general-purpose archive storage devices when you don’t need to access your data every day.

However, the HDD is limited to how fast it spins on its platters (like a CD or vinyl record) to access and display its information. So, it would not be advisable for businesses and individuals to use spinning hard drives to store large amounts of information that you need regularly.

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Solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard drives (HDDs) both store computer data and they’re widely used for backups. How data's stored and accessed is the main difference.

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