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FAQ

SSD and HDD Differences

Understanding the differences between SSD and HDD is pretty straight forward. A hard disk drive (HDD) is a traditional storage device that uses mechanical platters and a moving read/write head to access data. A solid state drive (SSD) is a newer, faster type of device that stores data on instantly-accessible memory chips.

If you bought an ultraportable laptop anytime in the last few years, you very likely got a solid-state drive (SSD) as the primary boot drive. Bulkier gaming laptops have moved to SSD boot drives, too, while only a subset of budget machines still favor hard disk drives (HDDs). The boot drives in prebuilt desktop PCs, meanwhile, are mostly SSDs now, too, except in the cheapest models. In some cases, a desktop comes with both, with the SSD as the boot drive and the HDD as a bigger-capacity storage supplement.

If you have to pick just one, though, how do you choose? Let’s get into the differences between SSDs and HDDs, and walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you decide.

Advantages and Disadvantages of SSDs and HDDs

Hard drives are still around in budget and older systems, but SSDs are now the rule in mainstream systems and high-end laptops like the Apple MacBook Pro, which does not offer a hard drive even as a configurable option. Desktops and cheaper laptops, on the other hand, will continue to offer HDDs, at least for the next few years.

That said, both SSDs and hard drives do the same job: They boot your system, and store your applications and personal files. But each type of storage has its own unique traits. How do they differ, and why would you want to get one over the other?

SSD vs. HDD Pricing

SSDs are more expensive than hard drives in terms of dollar per gigabyte. A 1TB internal 2.5-inch hard drive costs between $40 and $60, but as of this writing, the very cheapest SSDs of the same capacity and form factor start at around $100. That translates into 4 to 6 cents per gigabyte for the hard drive versus 10 cents per gigabyte for the SSD. The differences are more drastic if you look at high-capacity 3.5-inch hard drives. For example, a 12TB 3.5-inch hard drive that sells for around $300 to $350 can push the per-gigabyte cost below 3 cents.

Since hard drives use older, more established technology, they will likely remain less expensive for the foreseeable future. Though the per-gig price gap is closing between hard drives and low-end SSDs, those extra bucks for the SSD may push your system price over budget.

SSD vs. HDD Maximum and Common Capacities

Consumer SSDs are rarely found in capacities greater than 2TB, and those are expensive. You’re more likely to find 500GB to 1TB units as primary drives in systems. While 500GB is considered a “base” hard drive capacity for premium laptops these days, pricing concerns can push that down to 128GB or 256GB for lower-priced SSD-based systems. Users with big media collections or who work in content creation will require even more, with 1TB to 8TB drives available in high-end systems.

Basically, the more storage capacity, the more stuff you can keep on your PC. Cloud-based storage may be good for housing files you plan to share among your smartphone, tablet, and PC, but local storage is less expensive, and you have to buy it only once, not subscribe to it.

SSD and HDD Speed

This is where SSDs shine. An SSD-equipped PC will boot in far less than a minute, often in just seconds. A hard drive requires time to speed up to operating specs, and it will continue to be slower than an SSD during normal use. A PC or Mac with an SSD boots faster, launches and runs apps faster, and transfers files faster. Whether you’re using your computer for fun, school, or business, the extra speed may be the difference between finishing on time and being late.

SSD and HDD Reliability and Durability

An SSD has no moving parts, so it is more likely to keep your data safe in the event you drop your laptop bag or your system gets shaken while it’s operating. Most hard drives park their read/write heads when the system is off, but when they are working, the heads are flying over the drive platter at a distance of a few nanometers. Besides, even parking brakes have limits. If you’re rough on your equipment, an SSD is recommended.

SSD and HDD Form Factors

Because hard drives rely on spinning platters, there is a limit to how small they can be manufactured. Years back, there was an initiative to make smaller 1.8-inch spinning hard drives, but that stalled at about 320GB, and smartphone manufacturers only use flash memory for their primary storage.

SSD and HDD Noise, Power, and Lifespan

Even the quietest hard drive will emit a bit of noise when it is in use. (The drive platters spin and the read arm ticks back and forth.) Faster hard drives will tend to make more noise than those that are slower. SSDs make no noise at all; they’re non-mechanical.

The overall takeaway? Hard drives win on price and capacity. SSDs work best if speed, ruggedness, form factor, noise, or fragmentation (technically, a subset of speed) are important factors to you. If it weren’t for the price and capacity issues, SSDs would be the hands-down winner. opens in a new windowClickAway provides hard drive replacement services to whichever drive you prefer.

Category: hard drive upgrade

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MacBook Pro hard drive replacement

More On Hard Drive Replacement

One of the quickest and most cost effective performance upgrades to your laptop or desktop computer is an SSD upgrade. For as little as $99 you can give up to a 10x performance increase to your computer. ClickAway's repair experts are here to help! Our certified technicians can upgrade your laptop or desktop's hard drive or replace it with a blazing fast SSD and get you up and running quickly. If your new computer takes a long time to boot up, that's likely because it runs on a regular hard drive. This is also the case of most older computers. The good news is that swapping out the drives is quite easy to do and not too expensive either, thanks to the fact that SSDs are now much more affordable than they were a few years ago.

Looking to turbocharge an aging laptop? An SSD upgrade is not only effective, but nowadays, it can be downright cheap. SATA drives, M.2 SSDs, PCI Express, NVMe: ClickAway can tell you everything you need to know about laptop SSD upgrades

  • Lenovo ThinkPad, HP, Dell, and Toshiba laptop SSD upgrades starting at only *$99
  • Desktop SSD upgrades starting at only *$99

*Not applicable to all models as part prices will vary with drive types and capacity.

MacBook Pro Hard Drive Replacement or

Install New Hard Drive Windows 10

There are many ways to make a slow laptop faster, but few are as easy and cost-effective as replacing your existing hard drive with SSD upgrades. Even student laptops benefit from SSD upgrades. Making the swap will, in most cases, dramatically reduce the time it takes to boot Windows, load programs, and perform any activity that involves significant amounts of disk access (video editing, gaming, transferring files, etc.). When I swapped out my hard drive for an SSD, my Windows boot time dropped from a very-painful almost 10 minutes to well under a minute. And programs like Adobe Photoshop that could take a minute or more to open, now open in seconds. Your old computer won’t just be as good as new; it will be better than it ever was.

With an SSD, you’ll also get the added advantage of greater ruggedness (SSDs are much less susceptible to damage from drops than hard drives because they have no moving parts), better battery life and quieter operation.

Despite the advantages of SSDs, in the past, upgrading wasn’t an attractive option for many people because of the high cost. But with 1TB SSDs now available for around $100, it’s almost silly not to make the switch. We run a cloning program (which literally makes a clone of your existing drive, so your operating system, your programs and settings, and all your files will be exactly the same and ready to go on your new drive).

Here are the simple steps we take to swap out your hard drive for an SSD.

  1. Buy an SSD from ClickAway
  2. We transfer data to the new SSD
  3. We clone your HD for security
  4. We install the SSD & related software

ClickAway is a full-service computer repair, phone repair, network installation and IT services company. Above all, we provide professional and opens in a new windowClickAway Repairs Computers for all your home, personal, or small business technology needs. ClickAway combines all your tech needs in one stop. We are just a click away for new purchases, repair service or if you simply have a question.