SSD vs HDD Recoverability

SSD vs HDD Recoverability

The new solid state drives are currently lauded as better than the traditional hard drives. In plain English, here is what consumers need to know.

For non-technical people, HDD is Hard Disk Drive, and has been used in computers for decades. It has a spinning platter and needle arm much like that of an old record player except all the information is written magnetically. Like any electronic instrument, if you drop this device, it is likely to break, skip data, scratch the platter, or something unsavory of this sort. There is nothing particularly technical about that.

An SSD is Solid State Drive and works much the same way as these new flash or thumb drive keys work. There are no moving parts. Instead, data is stored in tiny electronic switches that remember their position even when there is no power to the device. SSDs are both faster and generally more expensive than traditional HDDs. They may be ideal for certain applications that require higher speeds and robustness from vibration or drops. They are not however good for all applications.

The biggest concern we have with SSDs here at B.A. C.S. is their inability to recover from disk faults. The nature of an SSD’s method of storage makes them much more susceptible to immediate and unrecoverable loss of data and performance issues over time. We have done some research and are including a few quotes from engineers around the world:

[D]espite their performance advantages, SSDs only have a 10% market share compared to HDDs for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, they’re expensive. HDDs today average around 3-4 cents per GB, compared to 25-30 cents for SSDs. Dec 7, 2018 June 2019

… SSDs are quirky little devices that get slower as they fill up. And eventually, the flash cells reach a state where they can no longer complete write operations at all. June 2019

SSDs have a different and bigger problem – SSDs can only write to empty blocks. That’s okay when the SSD is new and all the blocks are empty. But over time, as blocks get filled up, overwriting data becomes an issue, because the only way an SSD can update an existing page is to copy the contents of the entire block into memory, erase the block and then write the contents of the old block in addition to the new data. If there are no empty blocks available, the SSD must scan for blocks marked for deletion, but not yet deleted, erase them, and then write the data to the now-erased page. Over time, as the SSD fills up, writing to the drive becomes more complicated and slower. June 2019

At B.A.C.S. we are of the opinion traditional HDDs are safer for data storage in the long run than SSDs and that safe data is the highest priority. However as with any storage device, we strongly recommend full backup of your data to another device. ANY single storage device can be corrupted and the best way to avoid total data loss is to duplicate the disk to a second or third device designed for long-term storage. B.A. C.S. offers the unique option of completely imaging your disk to another disk so that if you do lose your drive for whatever reason, an exact duplicate of the drive can be recovered to a brand new drive. The new drive will boot and act exactly like the old one: absolutely nothing lost (except whatever you added since last duplicating the drive). This method is also very private as it keeps all data in your possession alone. Cost is merely that of the new drive and the duplication effort (which requires special attention and drive removal in many cases.)