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What is a Hard Drive and What Does it Do?

What is a Hard Drive and What Does it Do?

Let's talk about hard drives. What is it? What is the difference between a hard disk drive and a solid-state drive or m.2? What do these numbers mean? And what is best for you as a creative professional?

What is a Hard Drive

So technically it is a type of storage component that is a hard drive. It is a hard disk drive an HDD which has a spinning disk and an arm that reads the information. And we'll explain more of that in just a minute. And or it is a solid-state drive an SSD which is direct contact of the information. There's no moving disk there's no arm. It just reads and writes straight off of the drive similar to a thumb drive or a flash drive. But then underneath solid-state drives, we have SATA, m.2, NVMe, PCIe. What do these terms mean? And what is the best for you on your computer or laptop? 

So a common misconception. Let's close this up right off the bat. More gigabytes or terabytes make for a faster storage drive and system. And by the system, I mean laptop or computer desktop computer. Now that is a Yes and no answer. And here is why the size of your storage unit has nothing to do with its speed. So by having more gigabytes or terabytes you're not increasing your speed like you would with RAM.

So with RAM is used to quickly retrieve the information to run your computer so it's going to quickly store the information needed to open Premiere Pro. Quickly store the information to open Google Chrome and for you to start searching in web browsers.

Whereas storage is where it's storing all of your files, it's storing the programs for long-term use, it's storing your video files or your Photo files whatever it might be on your computer. So it does not technically make your computer faster by having more RAM. However, as a storage unit begins to fill up it will start to slow down because it's getting less and less room and there's less ability for it to work is fast.

So the more room means the slower it will fill up and run at its intended speed for a longer period of time.

Will it innately improve your speeds?

But could it over time as your drive fills up slow down?

Yes. So that's why people often go for bigger drives or they store most of their files on a separate drive that they run their operating system. You've seen setups with SSDs as the main boot drive and then a hard disk drive as a storage drive. That's because they want to keep their main drive where their computer boots from where their operating system is and a lot of their programs are on a drive that does not fill up and in turn possibly slow down.

Hard disk drive vs SSD solid-state drive

So I use the example of looking up a word and a thesaurus. So Let's look up the word ominous. So with a hard disk drive, it is the same as me getting up out of my chair walking over to a bookshelf and then picking a book the thesaurus off of the shelf opening it up and saying ominous. Okay, ominous means this.

Whereas if I go and I have my iPhone aka my SSD and I pull up my phone I search ominous definition search and immediately pops up my definition and Google search zero. And I have the term and definition right there. So you can see the physical Act of me getting up off of the couch is the physical Act of the hard disk drive spinning the platter searching with the arm and finding the information and then relaying it back to the system.

Whereas the SSD goes straight to the information and shows it to me just like me getting on my iPhone and looking up the word. And as you see these are very reminiscent of flash drives or thumb drives. And this is very reminiscent of an old computer part that uses the spinning disk to find the information with that arm.

What is a Hard Drive and What Does it Do?

So SATA SSD- Sata for short is the storage drive was developed for hard drives. So when the solid-state drive came onto the market they adopted the same interface so users could easily upgrade their storage drive. So this is where SATA comes from and they transferred it onto the new technology. So whenever you ask somebody Hey I want to improve the speed of my computer. What should I do?

Oftentimes swapping out a hard disk drive and then putting it in a solid-state drive is going to improve the speed of their computer. So they can do that by using a SATA solid-state drive not an m.2 because this takes some adaption to your system. So you can do a swap out of a hard disk drive to a solid-state drive. And that would be a good move. You will not be able to easily move over to an m.2. And we'll talk about that in a minute because you need the cable connectors that are in your computer to connect from HDD or SSD to SATA.

Which one is swappable?
A hard disk drive is able to be swapped by a SATA SSD drive.

What is NVMe?

NVMe is Data Read straight from a PCIe slot right onto the motherboard using these NVMe Data connectors. So it's very similar to how RAM connects to a motherboard. So the real advantage of the PCIe interfaces the ability to transmit data on up to four lanes so greatly increasing your speed similar to how RAM connects to the motherboard. As I just mentioned this is where your RAM memory would go. So you see it connects directly into the motherboard. And this is a desktop motherboard.

This is not necessarily what it would look like on a laptop but it's the best clearest picture of this understanding this information for instance there's where the CPU goes so on and so forth. This is where the drive would connect directly to your motherboard. So it's a direct connection which makes way faster speeds.

What is a Hard Drive and What Does it Do?

What is this? m.2?

The m.2 is the physical form factor of the storage device. It is not another protocol or technique on how the storage transfers data. So by the protocol, I mean NVMe or SATA. You can get an m.2 drive that uses either SADA or NVMe.

So if you can have either on an m.2 what is the difference?

Well, they use different host controllers. So the m.2 on the SATA drive uses the SATA 3 and it relies on an advanced host controller interface AHCI before a hard disk or an SSD can communicate with a computer system. So it must go through the host controller before it then reaches the computer system or the motherboard.

Whereas the PCIe relies on a host controller called a Non-volatile memory. Non-volatile memory express. so it's a lot faster. It's a direct connection from the device the storage to the motherboard. So that's why you remove the bottleneck of this advanced host controller interface using the data power and using Data data power, using the power connector and the data connector and you jump straight into the motherboard. So a faster system.

Here are the typical storage speed of devices the average read and write speed of a 7200 rpm hard drive which is the spinning disk and the eye that reads is around 80 to 160 megabytes per second. A SATA 3 SSD is going to read and write at around 550 megabytes per second.

What is a Hard Drive and What Does it Do?

Whereas at the end of the NVMe SSD is going to read and write. An average speed of 3500 megabytes. So the speeds are far faster as the technology is improved obviously. But Here's the differences on average that you're going to see.

So you just swap out the same for an NVMe right? Not necessarily. As I mentioned earlier the HDD hard disk drive in the SSD solid state drive were the ones that were made semi-compatible. So what you want to do is you want to switch out your hard disk drive if you're looking to get better speeds with a similar form factor SATA SSD that's going to be the direct switch. That's going to be the easy change.

Using an m.2 drive is going to take some modifications to your components. And actually, a lot of computers aren't necessarily compatible with m.2. It's more than a newer laptop.

So look into your specs find out what your computer can do a quick Google search and find out if your computer is able to make that switch. So that's all we have today for a solid-state drive vs HDD vs. SATA vs. NVMe vs. PCIe and I hope that you do that's all we have today and I hope you have a better understanding of hard disk drive versus solid-state drives and if you have any questions please comment below I'm always happy to answer them.

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