Hard Drives 1: Solid-State Vs. Hard Disk

Hard Drives 1: Solid-State Vs. Hard Disk

October 3

Recently we posted a news article regarding the lifespan of hard drives. The article mentioned that hard drives can fail and that we need to make sure our backups are safe. The article didn’t mention what types of hard drives are available, how long each is likely to last, what we should look for when a hard drive starts to fail, and if there are measures we can take to avoid hard drive failure.

These are important questions, so let’s explore some answers.

Thinking about the type of hardware you’ll be using to store your backups is important. You’ll likely want to use an external hard drive in case the hard drive in your computer fails. The question is how long will an internal hard drive in your computer last? And how long will an external hard drive last?

According to a recent article, both are essentially the same thing, and have similar lifespans. As you surely know, an external hard drive is like an internal drive in a different casing and that lives outside the computer. An external hard disk drive is more likely to be bumped and jostled, so it’s important to keep it stationary, especially while it’s spinning.

A hard drive will usually last between five and ten years, but because many hard drives are shuffled around, and because so many people transport external hard drives all around, a more realistic lifespan for external drives is three to five.

But these are just estimates. In real life it’s difficult to say how long a hard drive will last, and important to realize that no hard drive last forever.


For only $30,000 dollars, you can buy a Sapphire hard disk that will last for 1 million years. I’ll go ahead and call that “forever.” According to gizmodo, this bad-boy has a sapphire disk onto which information is engraved in platinum—it sounds more like a piece of jewelry than a hard drive. This hard drive will be used for industrial purposes like recording locations of nuclear waste.  Although it’s super cool, it’s not likely to help your business unless the massive price is reduced.

Luckily there are good affordable options, and not only do you have options with regard to hard disk drives (HDD), you have growing options for solid-state drives (SSD).  A new article on channelprosmb.com suggests solid-state might be the way to go for a home computer, but what about for backup purposes?

SSDs have an advantage over HDDs because they remain stationary while HDDs require a lot of movement to spin the disk and have small parts that can come out of alignment. According to ChannelPro the consensus seems to be that both SSDs and HDDs have very similar lifespans, but since a SSD drive has no moving parts (and thus less likely to be damaged), it has the potential to last longer.

On a home computer, solid state drives have faster boot up and resume functions because they are more responsive than a mechanical drive and waste no time spinning up. SSDs also consume less energy and remain idle through much of a PCs running time, often four times less than a HDD while it idles. SSDs are superfast and can both read and write data much faster.

So why not store your backups on one? The issues are price and size. There aren’t a lot of external SSDs available to consumers, and the ones available cost around $600 for only 250 GB—compare that to a HDD with 1 TB for around $80 and the benefits hardly outweigh the cost. One thing you can do is purchase an internal SSD and an enclosure and use the internal SSD as an external drive. But you’re still looking at about $200 for around 240 GB, with $15 for the enclosure— it’s more than double the cost for a quarter of the space.

While a HDD is likely the most cost-effective option for your local backup, SSDs are great as an internal drive for your computer. In fact, one of our customers was very satisfied with his decision to switch to a solid state drive. Using Storage Craft ShadowProtect he was able to switch over in about an hour and a half. He was kind enough to share with us how he did it, check out the forum article to learn more.