SSD vs HDD vs M.2 – Super Storage Showdown

Kate SaundersHardware

SSD Showdown

A hard drive is one of the many critical components inside your computer or server. Hard drives are a storage device responsible for storing and retrieving important software and data files. Without certain software such as an operating system like Windows, your computer or server would not be able to perform many functions. There are several types of hard drives used for storing data files & software. Some of these include: hard disk drives (HDD), solid-state drives (SSD), M.2 and external drives. Lets have a look at the differences between them, as well as why SSD’s are currently a good option.

What is a Hard Disk Drive (HDD)?

A Hard Disk Drive, HDD for short, is an electromechanical data storage device that uses disks with magnetic coating to store and retrieve digital information. HDD’s are safe and easy to use making them an ideal storage device for many computers and servers. HDD’s are considered non-volatile, meaning they are able to retain data even when powered off.

Hard drives are currently the dominant type of storage on the market & have been around since the early days of computers. The IBM RAMAC was the first commercial computer to contain a hard disk drive, which was released in September 1956.


✔️ Cost friendly (more affordable than SSD’s & M.2’s)

❌ Slower than an SSD

✔️ Higher storage capacity

❌ Produces some noise while in operation

✔️ Availability

❌ Not as durable as an SSD (can be easily damaged if dropped or knocked)

✔️ Have been a reliable storage option for many years ❌ Bulky form factor

What is a Solid-state Drive (SSD)?

A solid-state drive, SSD for short, is a newer alternative to the more traditional hard disk drive. Unlike hard drives, solid-state drives do not have any moving parts and data is stored electrically rather than magnetically. Majority of SSD’s use flash memory, the same type of memory that is found in USB flash drives and memory cards for digital cameras and mobile phones.

Despite being slightly more expensive than a standard HDD, SDD’s are quickly gaining popularity as more and more users are choosing SSD’s as their preferred storage device in their computers. Due to their higher durability, speed and smaller form factor, it’s easy to see why people are making the switch. With the cost of SSD’s gradually coming down, and the size capabilities of SSD’s increasing, it can be expected that SSD’s will surpass HDD’s in popularity in the near future.

Modern solid-state drives are fairly new to the market, making their debut in May 2006 with Samsung launching the world’s first high volume notebook using SSD’s. However, did you know that SSD’s have been around for nearly 60 years? The first SSD, called a Card-Capacitor Read-Only Store (CCROS) was first invented in the mid 1950’s by IBM. SSD’s have come a long way since then, evolving to offer exponentially more speed and storage.

✔️ No moving parts ❌ Cost (more expensive than HDD’s per GB)
✔️ Speed & mobility ❌ Availability (may not be as commonly stocked as HDD’s)
✔️ Low failure rates & longer life span ❌ Smaller storage capacity than HDD’s
✔️ Less bulky than HDD’s
✔️ Improved boot times & video game load speeds

What is an NVMe M.2?

An M.2, originally known as the Next-Generation Form Factor (NGFF), is an internally mounted small form factor computer expansion card. M.2’s are a relatively new form of solid-state drive and are designed to be powerful and compact. This makes them a great fit for small power-constrained devices such as Ultrabook’s, tablets and small form factor (SFF) computers. With the desire to have smaller and more powerful machines, M.2’s will become increasingly common as the main storage device in computers.

✔️ Speed ❌ Computer (motherboard) compatibility
✔️ No cables ❌ May be difficult to install due to compatibility
✔️ Very compact in size ❌ M.2 compatible motherboards may lack other expansion slots for components such as HDD’s & DVD/Blue-ray drives due to the limited amount of PCI-Express lanes between the processor and the rest of the computer.
✔️ As reliable as other storage device options ❌ Expensive compared to HDD’s
✔️ The future of data storage (plenty of upgrade options will become available in the years to come) ❌ Availability (currently not as commonly stocked as other storage devices)
✔️ Improved computer boot times & video game load speeds

As with any data storage device it is essential to have appropriate backup solutions in place. This will minimise the risk of data loss and help your home or business keep running smoothly. Talk to us about an effective backup solution. You can also keep up to date with emerging technology and articles on our facebook page.