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Hard disk vs. flash storage: The fight of the century?

Last updated:October 2017

Editor's note

In the hard disk vs. flash storage brawl, it may seem obvious which technology is the best choice. Flash arrays are thriving in the data storage market, and show no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, hard disk drives (HDDs) -- with years of use in the data center under their belt -- are seeing a bit of a slump in the current landscape. But could a supporting role in backup and disaster recovery extend their usefulness?

Solid-state drives (SSDs) have seen a consistent rise in popularity due to their performance and reliability. A lack of moving parts makes them less likely to wear out over an extended period of time or fail due to overheating. While consumers once balked at the price tag on flash storage, developments in the technology have reduced costs and made SSDs a more attainable option.

The major benefit hard disk storage had over flash storage was always price and the amount of storage an organization could afford. For higher capacity, HDDs were the much more budget-friendly option. But as flash technology has matured, prices have gone down and the advantage of HDDs has been almost erased. SSDs also tend to use less power than HDDs, which can mean a lower electric bill as well. Is there a compromise to be found in the hard disk vs. flash storage battle?

Disk and flash can work in harmony in a hybrid array, but they are also losing popularity with the rise of all-flash. With the cost of flash looking to consistently drop as time goes on, the decision to supplement all-flash array with HDDs may become less appealing. Hybrid arrays, it seems, are destined to disappear into the sunset. Does hard disk face the same fate?

In this guide, we will weigh the pros and cons of hard disk vs. flash storage, see where each approach fits best and allow you to decide, once and for all, if HDDs are down for the count.

1Down but not quite out

Flash storage may be taking the spotlight, but HDDs haven't lost the fight. Along with being a reliable storage option, hard disk is a leading data backup choice and helpful component of cloud-based disaster recovery.

2HDD vs. flash

When it comes down to it, pound for pound, which data storage option is superior? With all of the alternatives available on the market and recent evolutions in the technology, flash storage seems to come out on top. In this section, we pit the two competitors against each other to decide once and for all.