When To Use HDD Over SSD?

Western Digital 2TB WD Blue PC HDD

When it comes to storage solutions, Solid State Drives (SSDs) have become increasingly popular due to their speed and reliability. However, they are not always the best choice for every situation. In some cases, a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) may be more suitable than an SSD. In this article, we will take a look at when it is beneficial to use an HDD over an SSD.

What is an HDD and What is an SSD?

An HDD (Hard Disk Drive) and an SSD (Solid State Drive) are both types of storage devices used in computers to store and retrieve data. However, they differ significantly in terms of their technology, performance, and price.

HDDs are traditional mechanical storage devices that have been used for several decades. They consist of one or more spinning platters that store data magnetically and a read/write head that accesses the data. The spinning platters rotate at high speeds, and the read/write head moves here and there across the platter to read and write data.

HDD consist of spinning disk
Inside of an HDD

HDDs are available in various capacities, ranging from a few gigabytes to several terabytes, and are relatively inexpensive compared to SSDs.

Seagate BarraCuda 2TB Internal Hard Drive HDD

On the other hand, SSDs use flash memory to store data, similar to those used in USB drives and memory cards. They have no moving parts, which makes them faster, more reliable, and less prone to mechanical failures. SSDs are available in smaller capacities than HDDs, ranging from a few gigabytes to a few terabytes, but they are more expensive per gigabyte of storage than HDDs.

Holding a SATA SSD (Left) or HDD (Right)

When it comes to performance, SSDs are significantly faster than HDDs, particularly in terms of read and write speeds. This means that the computer can boot up faster, programs can launch quicker, and files can be transferred at a much faster rate. SSDs are also more durable and can withstand shock, vibration, and extreme temperatures better than HDDs.

Samsung 980 PRO PCIe 4.0 NVME SSD

One of the major drawbacks of SSDs is their higher cost per gigabyte of storage. They are generally more expensive than HDDs and may not offer the same value for those who require large amounts of storage. However, as technology has improved, the cost of SSDs has come down, and they are becoming increasingly affordable.

When To Use HDD Over SSD?

There are a few scenarios where an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) may be more suitable than an SSD. Here are some points to consider:

1) Cost

Money in the Pocket

When it comes to choosing a storage device, the price is an essential factor to consider. If you’re on a tight budget but still need to store a large amount of data, then an HDD may be the better choice for you. This is because HDDs are significantly cheaper than SSDs regarding storage per dollar.

The cost of an HDD is relatively low due to its older technology and the fact that it’s been around for much longer. An HDD uses mechanical parts to read and write data, while an SSD uses memory chips. These memory chips used in SSDs are much more expensive to manufacture than the mechanical components of an HDD.

If you need to store video files or backups that take up much storage space, an HDD may be the better choice due to its low cost per gigabyte of storage. This allows you to store large amounts of data at a lower cost than an SSD.

Of course, it’s essential to keep in mind that HDDs do have their limitations. They are slower than SSDs and are more prone to physical damage due to their moving parts. However, if your primary concern is storage space and cost, then an HDD is an excellent option that provides a balance between storage capacity and affordability.

2) Storage Capacity

Storage capacity is another crucial factor to consider when choosing a storage option for your needs. HDDs are known for their high storage capacity and can store much more data than SSDs. For example, the Seagate Exos HDD (Check on Amazon) offers up to 20TB of storage capacity, while the largest SSDs in the market currently offer up to 8TB of storage.

If you want to know more about the highest capacity, SSDs refer to these posts.

The storage capacity of an HDD is mainly determined by the number of spinning disks it has and the amount of data that can be stored on each disk. An HDD with more disks can store more data. Additionally, the larger form factor of an HDD allows manufacturers to fit more disks into a single drive, increasing the storage capacity even further.

HDD arm
Spinning disk and the read arm of an HDD

On the other hand, SSDs use a different technology to store data, and their storage capacity is limited by the number of memory chips they can accommodate. Although SSDs are becoming more common in high-capacity models, they are still lagging behind HDDs in terms of storage capacity.

3) To Use in DVRs


When it comes to using storage devices for DVRs, it’s essential to keep in mind that reliability is more important than speed. While SSDs are incredibly fast, they may not be the best choice for DVRs since they can wear out more quickly than regular HDDs.

DVRs are designed to record and store footage continuously, which means that the storage device needs to handle frequent writing and overwriting of data. SSDs are prone to wear out over time due to the finite number of write cycles they can handle. Therefore, using an SSD in a DVR may result in a shorter lifespan of the storage device and potentially cause data loss.

On the other hand, regular HDDs are a better choice for DVRs since they are designed to handle frequent writing and to overwrite of data. Additionally, they have a much longer lifespan than SSDs, which means they can provide reliable storage for your DVR for an extended period.

While SSDs may offer faster read and write speeds, the difference in speed may not be noticeable in the context of DVRs. Therefore, it’s more important to prioritize reliability and longevity when choosing a storage device for your DVR.

Refer Can I Use SSD for DVR?

4) For NAS system ( Using RAID Configurations)

If you’re like me, you might have a collection of HD or 4K movies, music, or other media that takes up a lot of storage space. While services like Netflix and Spotify can provide some of that content, having a personal archive can be convenient and enjoyable.

However, if you’re already using cloud storage for photos and videos that you take with your phone, you might not need a lot of local storage. For a typical user, a great way to use HDDs would be to create a personal NAS with 4 or 5 drives and use it to back up family computers’ data and as a media server. I’ve found that this is a more private and cost-effective solution than relying on paid cloud-based services.

One great benefit of using HDDs in a NAS is that they can work much faster as a group in RAID 5 than they can on their own. For example, if you wanted to host your own movie server at home with 4, 4TB drives in RAID 5, The entire setup can hold up to 16TB of data and will read at about the same speed as a basic SSD. While this may require a one-time cost of around $800, it can provide a reliable and cost-effective solution for your storage needs.

5) For Media server – streaming video/music

When it comes to streaming media, such as video and music, speed is not necessarily the most important factor. In fact, what’s more, important is the ability to store large amounts of data reliably and affordably. That’s where HDDs really shine.

HDDs are designed to provide ample storage capacity at a lower cost than SSDs. This makes them ideal for media servers, where you need to store vast libraries of music and video files. HDDs also have a longer lifespan when it comes to writing operations, which means they can be written more frequently without wearing out as quickly as SSDs. This makes them more reliable and better suited for 24/7 operation, which is what you need for a media server.

While SSDs can be faster regarding read and write speeds, speed benefits are less pronounced in streaming media. Once the video or music file has been loaded, it’s streamed to the user at a rate that is limited by the network connection, not the drive speed. Therefore, it makes more sense to prioritize capacity and reliability over speed, especially when it comes to streaming media.


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