Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Drives: What Are They?
Hard disk drives (HDDs for short)are the most well known form of storage in computers. They use magnetically sensitive platters, an actuator arm, and a motor that spins the platters. On these platters are circles known as tracks, and each track is divided into sectors that have specific addresses for data on the hard drive. Once the data is written onto the track, the actuator arm returns to that location each time a request is made to retrieve or update that data. This method of data storage is tried and true, but should the internal components be damaged by being dropped or coming into contact with a magnet, the data is at risk of being lost forever.
Solid State Drives (SSDs) are a more recent form of data storage. By using flash memory, they use less energy, and run much cooler within a computer or server. Unlike hard drives, where data is stored in a circular pattern, SSDs store data in a grid-like fashion. Grids are organized into blocks, and a row of blocks is called a page. Unlike hard drives, SSDs erase and replace the whole block of data when it is retrieved or updated. During this, a process known as TRIM allows the drive to skip the rewriting of certain bits of data when erasing those blocks, and does garbage collection when idle to make sure no useless data is left behind. SSDs also have an inaccesible section of storage that is not reported to the OS to allow the deletion and movement of files without compromising storage capacity. All of these factors of more efficient data collection and speed make the SSD a much more popular choice for modern computers, especially with the newfound popularity of PC gaming.
As a result, SSDs are becoming much more common in computers and servers than HDDs. So much, that many modern computers are manufactured with SSDs over HDDs. In fact, a main selling point of the newest video game consoles (The Xbox Series X and Playstation 5) are that they incorporate SSD technology to allow for faster loading times than any console gamer has ever experienced. While the SSD seems superior in a lot of ways, and might seem like an easy decision when it comes to preference, there are more factors to consider on what is the right choice for data storage.