Hybrid Drive vs SSD vs HDD: A comparison

With Flash storage devices picking up, you would want to know which type of storage device to buy for yourself. Solid State Disk or SSDs are faster than conventional Hard Disk Drives or HDDs, but a lot costly. There is a significant difference between HDDs and SSDs.

Hybrid Drive vs SSD vs HDD

This article focuses on the difference between Solid State Drives and Hard Disk Drives and then compares them to Hybrid Drives.

Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

Hybrid Drive vs SSD vs HDD

The main points one needs to know about the Hard Disk Drives are as follows:

  1. Hard disks contain several disks that rotate and as many heads that move forward and backward on each disk to read/write data – The time taken to read/write data on an HDD is significant as the disks have to rotate before any action
  2. Movable parts mean wear and tear – The technology used in current hard drives is good and hence hard drives have a long life; this again depends on the usage of the HDD
  3. Hard disks do not die out all at a time – A hard disk first starts failing and then dies normally unless any brute force is applied to crush all disks at the same time (an HDD has many disks; and data on disks that are not damaged, can be still read)
  4. The technology used in Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) is cheap and hence you can get large amounts of storage space for low cost
  5. The Hard Drives available in market do not need any kind of special software as they are easily recognized by any operating system

Solid State Drives (SSD)

SSD vs Hybrid Drive

Solid State Drives, as we have seen earlier, are also called Solid State Disks though no disks are involved. It is just because their counterparts are often called Hard Disks, they can be called Solid State Disks. Main points to be noted are as follows:

The main points to be noted are as follows:

  1. There are no mechanical parts involved – There is no need to move anything inside the drive to read data and hence time taken to read and write data is much faster compared to HDDs
  2. SSDs are basically a complex circuit where data is stored in ON/OFF (1/0) phases – As such, there is no physical wear and tear in SSDs
  3. You cannot tell if an SSD is about to die; unlike the HDDs, they do not send out any kind of warning signals and if an SSD dies out, it dies completely without allowing anymore read/write operations
  4. The technology used in SSDs is costly and thereby the drives too, are costly as compared to Hard disks; for example, if you can buy an HDD of a certain capacity at ‘n’ dollars, an SSD of same capacity may be as costly as ‘3n’ dollars.
  5. Solid State Drives are addressed in a fashion similar to how the OS addresses the RAM and hence the speed is faster as compared to Hard Disks, where not only the latter has to convert magnetic scratches into binary, it also has to deal with disk rotations and moving heads


Based on the above points-

  1. SSDs are much faster compared to Hard Disk Drives
  2. SSDs are much costly compared to Hard Disk Drives
  3. SSDs, if die, they die without any warning so you may lose your data if not already backed up

SSDs are good for people who need higher speeds as in gaming and real-time computing etc. Hard Disk Drives are okay for people who require more of storage space compared to speed.

Read: How to tell if the Hard Drive is SSD or HDD.

Hard Disk Drive, Solid State Drive, Hybrid Drive comparison

Hybrid Drive vs SSD vs HDD

Hybrid Drives, as we have seen yesterday, combine both SSD and HDD where the SSD is used as a cache between Hard Disk and RAM. Hybrid Drives are actually Hard Disk Drives that employ some SSD to act as a cache. They come with a firmware that figures out what data is being required frequently and stores it on the SSD part (cache) of the Hybrid Drives. This results in faster operations with time (as you use the Hybrid Drives). To make the previous statement a little more clear, you will not see any difference in speed of Hybrid Drives initially but as you use the Hybrid Drive – over time – you will notice that your programs and operating system (and other data) are much faster than before.

Hybrid Drives are good for people who need both speed and space. Being part HDD and part SSD, Hybrid drives are less costly while providing you with better storage space. In comparison, Hybrid drives are faster than regular Hard Disks and slower than standalone SSDs, while not compromising on storage space.

These are my observations on Hybrid Drive vs SSD vs HDD.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN


  1. Question: If the SSD portion of the Hybrid dies, is the data on the Hard Disk portion of the drive still accessible?

  2. Arun Kumar

    It should be. I am yet to come across any statement that negates my theory.
    Anyway, it would be saved and not ruined so you can access it using special tools if it cannot be accessed directly. But I think the SSD, being just a cache, if dies, the data on Hybrid drive can still be accessed without any problem.

  3. Dregun

    Their could be a potential for data loss if the sad portion of the drive fails.

    If the data within the SSD is merely a backup of data on the HDD portion then the data loss would be minimal. However, if the data is only stored in the SSD portion then many important files will be lost.

  4. Pip

    Based on the above points,
    SSDs are much faster compared to Hard Disk Drives
    SSDs are more costly compared to Hard Disk Drives
    SSDs can die without any warning so you may lose your data if not already backed up

  5. pippincp

    If you know of a Hybrid 4TB HDD that has a SDD cache that can back up the data on the HDD PLEASE let us know!

  6. pippincp

    The problem here from the two replies seems to be that some don’t seem to see what the cache portion of the drive is.
    The cache is a temporary store whilst the data is written to the disc, once written the cache is emptied.

  7. Mano

    which would be a better option 1TB – SSD or 500GB Hybrid drive ?

  8. Gareque

    I know this is a fairly old post, but the answers seem to have died off…

    My understanding of the SSHD is not that it actually, physically stores data on the flash memory. After all, 8GB is nothing, I am not even sure that’s enough space to store Windows these days.

    From looking into it, it doesn’t store the data, only the cache information needed to boot up the program, much as RAM does.

    As such, if the SSD section dies, you shouldn’t lose any information as the data is physically on the HDD section.

    If that seems a bit confusing, think of it like this: Say you load Diablo 3. The game needs certain files to run. The drive learns what these files are and if you frequently use them, transfers the data to the flash memory, so it loads that ‘particular’ information much faster.

    The result is a drive that gets faster with your most common programs the more you use them.

    Apologies if I am wrong on this and feel free to correct me :),

  9. Ralphsoft

    500GB Hybrid drive is the best option, since it’s cost is lower than an SSD. Things like Applications will run at almost the same speed as an SSD.

  10. Zeke Krahlin

    It’s not “much costly,” it’s “much costlier” or “more costly.”

  11. Jamie Powell

    appalling spelling full of grammatical errors. How could I ever take anything in this article serious?

  12. Jamie Powell

    lol appalling grammar.

  13. Jamie Powell

    He don’t know what he’s talking about “The technology used in Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) is cheap and hence you can get large amounts of storage space for low cost” LOL REALLY. MY SCSI hard drive are certainly NOT made with “cheap” components. Running for 8 hours now in a server and never switched off. The guy is an idiot. Needs to go back to school for his grammar / spelling and college for I.T. Idiot

  14. Jamie The Poo

    I bet the authors knows multiple languages and English is not his first one. How many languages do you know you turd? And anyway who the F cares about grammar! 😀

  15. Jamie Powell

    people who want to read something credible and reliable and those with the brains to interpret it. Clearly they don’t know multiple languages owing to the fact they cannot figure out the most basic most spoken one in the world 🙂 Regards

  16. Jamie The Poo

    You imbecile, the most spoken language in the world is Mandarin! Ever heard of it??

    Anyway be happy in your ignorance. Over and out.

  17. Jamie Powell

    1. Mandarin Chinese

    Native speakers (2010): 955 million
    Non-Native speakers: 194 million2. English

    Native speakers (2010): 360 million
    Non-native speakers: 603 million

    Depends if you go native or non speakers. Doesn’t require world war 3.

  18. Jamie The Poo

    It should be – “Appalling spelling; full of grammatical errors! How could I ever take anything in this article seriously?’

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