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Hybrid Drive vs. Hard Disk Drive

When it came to storage devices, it used to be simple when buying or putting together a computer. Now, however, there are different options out there, each with their own benefits. No longer is it just the hard disk drive. Released a couple of years ago by Seagate and Samsung was the hybrid drive which pairs solid state storage with that of a conventional hard disk. But which one is better?

A hybrid drive offers the speeds of flash memory while still offering high capacity at a relatively low price. Although the drive is essentially split into two, the operating system sees it as a single device. The SSD memory acts as a large cache, but it is non-volatile which means that it won’t disappear when the drive powers down. There are various algorithms in place which track which files are loaded the most (usually the operating system and program files) and stores them on the SSD side in order to improve access times.

As such, the hybrid drive boasts quicker boot up times than a standard hard disk drive and also reduced power consumption since it isn’t spinning up quite as much. However, the fact is that buying two drives could work out cheaper and that recovering data from failed flash memory modules is very hard (so make sure you have a good backup solution in place).

Hard disk drives have been the main storage device in computers for a long time. They work mechanically. A platter that stores your data rotates around and a read/write head hovers above in order to access or record data. They are capable of storing huge amounts of data at a relatively cheap price. In fact, they are getting less expensive by the day. The great thing about hard disk drives is that they are simple to connect and get the job done at an affordable price.

However, they do have downsides. The first of these is that they don’t compare performance wise against a hybrid drive. This is because each time you want to access data the platter has to physically spin up. The faster the platter spins then the quicker you get the data; a common speed is 7200 revolutions per minute. Another problem with hard disk drives is that they are vulnerable to damage, more so than flash memory. This is because even the tiniest scratch on the platter surface could cause data loss. With the read/write head hovering so close to it, it’s important that the drive is looked after well.

For those people who want improved performance that comes with flash memory, yet still want to maintain a decent amount of storage space, a hybrid drive could be a good bet. Although it still contains mechanical components, meaning that side of failure still exists, the ability to cache data that is often accessed could prove a great time saver. Buying a solid state drive and hard disk drive separately may work out cheaper, but the hybrid drive combines the two and does away with any troubleshooting issues that come from pairing two drives manually.


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