Selecting the best storage devices available is very important as they take care of crucial data and information. Every storage device has a life period and it is normal to get a new one after every few years either to replace the old one or to use it as an extra backup drive. Here are some of the factors that you should consider before buying a new storage device.
Hard Disk Drive vs Solid-State Drive
An SSD is a type of storage device that uses flash memory compared to the spinning metal disks that are found in classic HDDs. Try to imagine an SSD as a huge SD card or a USB flash drive.
We have already discussed the advantages and disadvantages of both HDDs and SSDs in a previous article. SSDs read and write data faster, draw less power and even operate silently compared to an HDD. But, SSDs are more expensive per gigabyte and have much smaller data capacities than HDDs.
SSD will always be the better option if the storage device is going to run an operating system or store a lot of files and programs that need to be accessed frequently. Performance and speed are the biggest advantages of an SSD over an HDD.
But it will be more reasonable to go with the classic HDDs, if budget is a limiting factor here and you need most of the storage space you can afford. It is better to go with a traditional HDD if you’re getting the storage device mainly for long-term data storage and data backups.
Hard disk drives are available in a wide range of storage capacities. The 3.5-inch internal hard drive that is available for PCs can go up to 10TB of storage capacities whereas top hard drives and SSDs that comes with laptops can offer only up to 2TB of storage.
There are no moving parts in SSDs, so they are usually smaller than HDDs and most SSDs are available in the 2.5-inch form factor. Although, there are some adapters that will allow you to turn 2.5-inch drives into 3.5-inch drives.
Performance or Transfer Speed
The performance of a storage device refers to the speed at which data is transferred within a single device or within multiple devices. There are several factors that affect the performance of a commercial HDD, but RPMs (revolutions per minute) is an essential one as higher RPMs mean a faster data transfer speed for both to and from the drive.
The Serial ATA interface standard or SATA defines the speed of a particular internal drive. It determines the speed of the drive to connect to a host like a personal computer, a server or to another storage device.
There are three generations of SATA available among storage devices. The SATA 3 is the latest and most popular one with a speed of six gigabits per second (about 770 megabytes per second). The SATA 2 limits data speed at 3 gigabits per second and the almost extinct SATA 1 limits data speed at 1.5 gigabits per second.
The cache or buffer is an area of embedded memory which is utilised when a hard disk tries to transfer data internally within the drive. A larger cache helps in quicker data transfer as more information can be stored at a single time. Cache sizes of commercial HDDs usually range from 8 MB to 256 MB.
Access times are another vital factor that affects the performance of the storage device. It means the amount of time it takes for the reader to position itself and to read or write data. Two drives with the same RPM can have different performances, but mostly hard drives perform at a similar level. There is still no known way of comparing access times.
In the case of SSDs, make sure to check the sequential read and write speeds (or sustained read and write speeds). It should work fine till its speeds are within the maximum speed of the SATA connector.
The durability of your storage device that is storing data, will be responsible for the safety of your data. You should always consider both the quality of the drive and how you will use it, especially in the case of laptops where single drives are the only option.
Hard drives are usually more sensitive to heat, moisture, vibration and shock compared to SSDs. You should always go for a product that is equipped with layers of physical protection if you want to use it as a portable storage device.