WHY HARD DRIVES FAIL WHEN SSDS DON’T
Tiny mechanical moving parts can put your most important files at risk
Wherever you are right now, it’s a safe bet that something nearby is under construction. Exactly what’s being built will vary widely - from skyscrapers and subdivisions, all the way down to blanket forts and building blocks – but those actually safe will have been built according to industry standards. Ignoring these codes wouldn’t just be bad, but to use a term embraced by the insurance industry, it would be a “risk.”
Whether we’re talking about a building, walking across the street, or a reaching retirement, it’s our everyday decisions to avoid risk which can determine our rates of success. At home and at work, much of what we do today lives on a computer. We store spreadsheets, emails, photos, games, movies, and more on these machines, and it doesn’t get much worse than having your hard drive die. Where you choose to store your files and data – on traditional hard drives, or on the newer solid state drives (SSDs) – is one of those decisions that can help you bypass an expensive loss by avoiding unnecessary risk, based on how they’re built.
How hard drives work
If you have many terabytes of data and money is extremely limited, hard drives (HDDs) can be a decent option. Hard drives used to be cutting-edge technology. In a nanometer-thin space, they use tiny moving arms to read and write data magnetically from platters spinning at 7,200 RPM. However, these intricate moving parts are also why there’s more risk that they fail.
How SSDs work
Unlike hard drives, SSDs do not use mechanical moving parts to read or write data. Instead, they use flash memory technology, which uses electrons to read, write, and store data. As a result, they’re faster, more durable, and more likely to last longer. No moving parts means less friction, less energy consumption, and smarter technology that makes it easier to extend the life of the drive – and all the photos, videos, and files on it.
How big is a nanometer?
A nanometer is one billionth of a meter– yeah, microscopically tiny. To put it in perspective, here’s what’s measured in nanometers.*
One of the ways that storage drive durability can be measured is the amount of shock in gravitational forces (Gs) it can survive, and still function. ‘Shock’ is essentially the acceleration or deceleration of an object, and it’s higher when it happens very quickly – as in a drop, crash, or impact.
Here’s a bit of context. When your uncle slaps you on the back, you’re experiencing about 4.1 Gs of shock*. Kicking a soccer ball will yield roughly 300 Gs. A traditional hard drive when “parked” (completely powered off) is rated to survive up to 250 Gs worth of shock over 2 milliseconds. In use however, hard drives are rated to endure 30 Gs of shock when writing (saving), and 60 Gs when reading.
A Crucial® SSD in comparison, is rated to survive up to 1,500 Gs over 0.5 milliseconds.*
Why does shock matter with your hard drive or SSD?
Since hard drives operate using recording arms, each only nanometers above spinning platters, there’s less room for error if a drive is put through shock – perhaps by getting dropped or hit. If the arm in a hard drive gets bumped and moves only a few nanometers, it could scratch the platter and ruin the drive. This is why it matters that SSDs don’t use moving parts – there’s less risk of something going wrong.
It matters how drives are made
Storage drives are often like safe deposit boxes that hold your digital memories. The files that tell the story of your life are there – videos from vacations, photos of your children and family, résumés, financial spreadsheets, and the movies and music albums that set the tone for all of it. Don’t risk losing these irreplaceable files by relying on intricate mechanical parts and spinning platters. If your laptop or desktop came with a hard drive, maybe it’s time to upgrade to a more reliable SSD.
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