What are the Advantages & Disadvantages of SSD Hard Drives?

By J.E. Cornett

When it's time to purchase a hard drive for your computer, make sure you consider all the options. There is always the traditional hard drive, but now there is a new option: the SSD, or solid-state drive. SSDs are being marketed as the next big thing in computing, and although there are several compelling reasons to consider purchasing an SSD, there are drawbacks as well.

SSD Advantages

Many of the advantages SSD drives offer are directly related to the very thing that makes them different from traditional hard drives: no moving parts. Mechanical failure is the No. 1 reason traditional hard drives often "crash." Over time, the moving parts that make up a traditional hard drive wear out or simply fail. Solid-state hard drives work more like the flash memory cards used in digital cameras and the thumb drives that have all but replaced CDs and floppy disks. They use no moving parts for data storage, so they have a lower failure rate. Speed is another advantage of SSD hard drives. Start-up time and disk-read time is faster in SSD hard drives than in traditional hard drives, again because of no moving parts. Traditional hard drives are literally "disk" drives; they must spin up at start-up and while processing data. With no disk to cue up, SSDs start and read data more quickly. Another plus to SSDs' lack of moving parts: They make little to no noise, compared with traditional hard drives.

SSD Disadvantages

Solid-state hard drives are a relatively new entry in the computing game. As with any new technology, the kinks are still being ironed out. Because SSDs are a new technology, they are more expensive than traditional hard drives. Expect SSDs to remain a pricier option until they become more commonplace. Another drawback to SSD hard drives: They currently offer less storage space than traditional hard drives. One reason SSDs have been slow to catch on is that most of the these new drives have slower write speeds and limited write-cycle lifetimes. In layman's terms, this means that although SSDs access data more quickly, it takes longer to save data to these drives. However, the limited number of write cycles is more troubling. Traditional hard drives have almost-unlimited write cycles, meaning that data can be erased and written over and over, but SSDs write cycles are more limited.


Solid-state hard drives have a clear advantage over traditional hard drives because they have no moving parts to fail or wear out. However, SSDs are a relatively new technology that is still developing. Waiting until this new technology is more advanced--and affordable--might be your best bet.