Data storage solutions are still evolving with higher capacity, data transfer rate, and efficiency with every upgrade. Traditional Hard Drives were taken over by SSDs and still, they are the most reliable storage technology in the world. But there is another type of storage that many of us don’t know.
Hybrid drives or SSHDs are a combination of Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Flash memory storage. It combines the mechanical components of HDD and the NAND memory of flash storage. But can a hybrid drive be better than the current champion, the SSD?
Are Hybrid Drives better than SSD?
Hybrid drives act like SSD but they are not better than SSDs. SSHDs are standard mechanical hard disks that use caching software to store frequently accessed data which aren’t very efficient at all times. Especially when you are writing new data in an SSHD, it takes time to learn whether the data is frequently accessed to cache it in. If the data is not frequently accessed, it will work like a standard HDD.
In order to understand why hybrid drives aren’t better than SSDs, you must know how they function. Let us discuss the working of SSHDs and discuss the differences between Hybrid drives and SSDs.
Working of Hybrid Drives
Hybrid drives have the traditional magnetic hard drive system which uses mechanical parts to read and write data. Along with this HDD, it has a small flash storage memory (NAND memory). This flash storage is the primary highlight of hybrid drives.
The hybrid drives use software that monitors which data is frequently accessed from the HDD. After recognizing the frequently accessed data, it will cache them in the flash memory which is high-speed NAND memory.
So, when you access the data again, it will be produced from the cached bit from the flash memory which is slightly closer to the performance of an SSD.
But where the SSHD starts to show its true color is when you write new data in it. Since the hybrid drive depends on software to recognize frequent data access, new data will still be accessed from the HDD part of the drive. Until you start accessing the data frequently, the data will not be cached on the flash memory.
The major advantage of the SSHD is that you get the benefit of the large storage present in the normal HDD. Along with it, flash memory helps you with faster data access.
Since there is a large storage space available, you don’t have to choose between data like an SSD. You can simply store anything in the SSHD including the OS. OS files will be frequently accessed. Therefore, you can have faster boot times without any lag.
Those who work with new data every day may not find this hybrid drive useful. They can go with SSDs to get faster access to the data and better performance in data transfer, reading, and writing.
So, to conclude, hybrid drives are not entirely better than SSDs. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on high-performing SSDs and HDDs, you can choose these SSHDs.
Read: Is PCIe SSD faster than NVMe?
Hybrid Drive vs SSD
|Available Form factor||Only 3.5, 2.5 SATA||3.5 & 2.5 SATA, M.2|
|Maximum Storage capacity (Commercially available)||10TB||2TB|
|Performance||Faster than HDDs but slower than SSDs||Fastest data storage solution at present|
|Reliability||Less reliable with the risk of mechanical failure||More reliable and stays for years|
|Price||Affordable price range||Higher capacity drives are very costly|
SSDs and SSHDs are only similar in one way. The use of high-speed flash memory makes hybrid drives similar to SSDs. But in terms of performance or reliability, they can nowhere match the quality of SSDs.
When you are working with relatively new content and data every day, you cannot expect blazing-fast performance from hybrid drives. They tend to be slower unless you access the data regularly. But in the case of SSD, there is no such disadvantage. Because it doesn’t rely on any software to cache data.
An SSD can be considered as a big RAM. The only difference is that the data stored in RAM is volatile while the SSD can retain the data without any issues. So, can anything match the performance of a RAM-like storage solution? As of now, NO!
SSHDs are more traditional hard drives than SSDs. Flash memory is just a very small part of it. You can even consider it insignificant if you are writing new data every day. Flash memory is more like an accessory to the HDD and aids like RAM for the HDD data.
So, hybrid drives can never match the performance of an SSD. You can simply get a better solution than hard drives with them and not more than that.
Read: Why are Flash Drives slower than SSD?
What are the best places to use hybrid drives?
Those who don’t frequently write new data can make use of hybrid drives. If you are looking for a snappy storage solution, then it is not the best choice. Since there is always the risk of mechanical failure with hybrid drives, those who consider reliability must not choose this drive.
But if you want to expand your storage with a cheaper alternative to SSDs and you want a higher storage capacity, then these are the best choice. They provide you with the storage of HDDs and when you read data from it regularly, you can have faster performance than a normal hard disk.
So, if reliability and performance are not a big concern for you, then this can be used without any doubt to expand your storage capabilities.
Read: Do NVMe Drives Need Heatsink?
Hybrid drives are not bad entirely. They are not big on the SSD part and this makes them less capable than SSDs. When you are trying to have a better storage solution than HDD, hybrid drives can lift you up. But true performance can only be experienced with SSDs if you have the strength to afford them. When budget is a big concern, you might find comfort in hybrid drives.