Differences Between Solid State and Hard Disk Drives

 In TSM Studio Blog
  • Whether you’re a hobbyist or a seasoned veteran working on music production, it’s essential that your means of protecting vital session data are ergonomic, reliable and robust. Among the most popular forms of backing up your work are Solid State Drives (SSD’s) and Hard Disk Drives (HDD’s).


Differences Between SSD’s and HDD’s 

  • As technology has rapidly evolved over time, Solid State Drives have become a highly sought-after hardware medium for data storage due to their highly compact construction that contains no moving parts. On the contrary, Hard Disk Drives, the traditional form of data storage, utilize mechanical parts that continuously move a read/write head on an arm to access data. Because these mechanical parts are constantly writing and recording data, there remains an underlying risk that abruptly moving the drive can cause written errors to occur, resulting in lost or damaged data.
  • SSD’s have become the gold standard for file storage because although they functionally perform the same duties as HDD’s, data is instead stored on flash-memory chips that have the ability to retain data even with the absence of power. These flash-memory chips enable the SSD’s price tag to be a bit steeper in order to reflect the high-speed efficiency packed into a more conveniently designed, smaller format.


          Pros and Cons 

  • If you’ve put any time into browsing Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy or any other drive retailers, you’ll immediately notice the price gap between SSD’s and HDD’s is quite substantial. There’s no surprise that SSD’s run a higher price tag than HDD’s due to their high speed, compact packaging and reliable construction. The price point difference is what allows for HDD’s to continue to be a go-to medium for digital storage. For the audio engineer that backs up endless pre and post-production sessions, the music producer who’s seemingly endless plug-in library can’t seem to stop expanding or the multi-talented producer/composer/engineer all-in-one creative who does it all, 2-4 TB HDD’s will allow for a ton of storage at a price point that’s marginally cheaper than that of a SSD.
  • There’s no doubt that SSD’s are on the radar for creatives with extensive media collections, however common capacities for HDD’s and SSD’s differ dramatically due to calculated consumer and production costs. A 256GB SSD can cost the same as a 1TB HDD, so if you’re seeking a large storage medium within a smaller budget, HDD’s are likely the way to go. Fortunately, the price gap between SSD’s and HDD’s seems to be closing as time goes on and technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace.
  • As far as durability is concerned, there are many military-grade HDD options that allow peace-of-mind for those who are rough on their equipment, however because SSD’s have no moving parts, they’re more likely to keep your data safe in the event that TSA decides to assault your workbag.
  • Odds are that if you’re in a pinch and need to head to your nearest Best Buy to grab a backup drive at a moments’ notice, you’ll find that HDD’s will be readily available for most budgets.
  • If you’re an engineer whose client prefers to record in the control room or you’re a bedroom producer who does the bulk of their recording from home, any additional room noise will likely factor into your creative decisions. If you’re intent on avoiding a few more decibels of added room tone, your best bet would be to go with an SSD as their non-mechanical construction allows for no noise to be produced. The same can’t be said for HDD’s whose read and write arms constantly tick back and forth and produce additional noise.
  • The truth is that all drives will wear out over time, however, SSD’s flash-memory cell deterioration occurs at a marginally slower rate than that of mechanical read and write arms from HDD’s. The physical recording methods of HDD’s will cause it to deteriorate at a much higher rate, but no drive is perfect (yet).


          What Storage is Right for You?

  • General users or anyone working within a budget would likely benefit from investing into a HDD due to accessible, cheap storage space. HDD’s are also recommended for consumer music, photo and video enthusiasts who have a heavy-hand for downloading content. The ease of accessing multiple terabytes of storage is a must-have for anyone routinely downloading large format files such as full-length movies or sizeable music libraries. Ultimately, it may not be practical to invest in an expensive SSD if your needs are minimal.
  • For those who are constantly traveling from studio-to-studio and need tasks done efficiently with hasty boot-up and launch times, SSD’s are likely worth the investment. Considering the ability of SSD’s to suppress noise, operate efficiently and occupy a smaller portion of desk real estate, they’re the go-to choice for audio professionals seeking to improve productivity.