Secondary data storage is paramount for the standard operations of a computer, allowing for files, pictures, programs, and other forms of data to be retained over time. Hard drives commonly serve as the most widely used secondary data storage types for building PCs, typically coming in the form of hard disk drives (HDD), SATA, and solid state drives (SSD). As each device varies in its construction, capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages, having a general understanding of each and how they compare to one another is beneficial when making a purchasing decision.
The HDD is an electromechanical device, capable of storing and retrieving data with the use of rotating magnetic platters and an actuator arm. Hard disk drives are a form of random-access device, meaning that reading and writing blocks of data can be done in any order. Furthermore, such devices are non-volatile and are capable of retaining their data even when power is lost or shut off.
SATA, or Serial ATA, hard drives are devices that superseded PATA devices to become a standard of data storage. SATA devices are a form of bus interface, utilizing host bus adapters to attach mass storage devices. SATA devices are also rewritable, permitting data to continuously be erased and rewritten as desired. Additionally, they have optimal speeds for reading and writing information and are compatible with most computers and motherboards.
The solid state drive is a data storage device that relies on integrated circuit technology to store data. Unlike HDDs and SATA devices, SSD Devices are completely devoid of moving parts such as platters and heads, instead using semiconductor cells and charges to store bits of information. While not as quick in their operations as compared to random access memory (RAM), SSDs are capable of reading and writing data at a much quicker pace as compared to advanced HDD technology. Additionally, they are also able to operate silently with low latency and provide resistance to physical shock. Nevertheless, they tend to be a more expensive option due to being a more recent technology as compared to other data storage types.
When it comes to reliability and lifespan, some devices may be more beneficial than others. For instance, the SSD is a much more reliable option as compared to HDDs, due in part to their lack of moving parts. As such, they avoid breakdowns of mechanical components and are more resistant to drops or physical shock. For lifespan, on the other hand, HDDs often have longer lives as SSD cells will face degradation over time with continued charges. As SATA drives are considered more of a type of HDD interface, such devices are comparable to HDDs in their performance and characteristics.
When deciding between various types of data storage IT hardware, the best fit will often depend upon one's particular needs. When storing large amounts of data where speed is not an issue, HDDs are the clear winner. On the other hand, an SSD is best for speed and flexibility. HDDs are also beneficial when one is not too concerned with features and simply wants a cheaper device that will provide long-lasting service.
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