Thoughts and ideas from My IT
The ROI of SSD vs HDD Hard Drives
April 11, 2019 at 1:00 PM
by Richard Berger

Solid state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives (HDD) are storage types that come in different shapes and sizes to fit all machines, but when it comes to selecting the right storage type for your workstations, businesses need to understand the distinctions between them.

Both SSDs and HDDs fulfill the same function of storing data, however they differ in their methods and performance. Here are the primary differences:

  • SSDs have no moving parts. A traditional hard drive, the HDD, stores data on spinning magnetic platters and reads that data with an actuator arm [like the one shown above]. This causes longer read/write times and has more points of failure, which causes shorter lifespans than an SSD. They are also much more prone to failure if dropped due to all of the moving components.

  • SSDs are more reliable. The average Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) of an SSD is 1.2 million hours. This means that about 2 out of 1,000 SSDs will fail each year when used at least 8 hours each day. HDDs are measured in Annual Failure Rate (AFR) percentage and the rates range from 0.5% up to 13.5%. Therefore, even at the lowest failure rate, that breaks down to 5 out of 1,000 HDDs failing each year when used at least 8 hours each day.

  • SSDs have higher performance. Users will notice significantly improved responsiveness on their PCs, and they will also experience faster boot times. An SSD will take your computer boot times from 30-60 seconds down to about 10 seconds or less. The increased speed of the boot time shows just how much faster files and programs will run on an SSD over an HDD. Also, SSDs do not require defragmentation to increase performance because data isn’t fragmented across multiple spinning platters.

  • SSDs use less power. They use on average 67% less power than HDDs, which can add up over the course of the year across multiple devices. This also allows laptops to have better battery life overall.

  • SSDs are silent.  As you can imagine, since there are no moving parts you won’t hear the clicking and whirring that naturally accompanies the HDDs.

  • HDDs are cheaper per GB of storage. SSDs are currently more expensive per GB of storage because it is the newer technology. HDDs average 5 cents per GB, while SSDs are averaging 13 cents per GB. With more businesses requiring data to be stored on servers, whether they are on premises or in the cloud, this becomes less of an issue. With the need for less storage, many companies opt for smaller SSD drives. In some cases, you could compromise and get a smaller SSD for the Operating System and critical programs, and a larger HDD for the files, and have them work in conjunction.

Based solely on the approximately 2.5x cost of an SSD, HDDs would look to have a better ROI. However, as the old saying goes “time is money”. When you factor in the 6x faster speeds, minimal power usage, better durability, and 2.5 to 67.5x greater longevity the ROI is easily in favor of SSDs. This is why SSDs are naturally replacing HDDs as the affordability continues to improve while the performance and reliability remain consistently better than HDDs.

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