Is HDD good for storing videos?

Hard disk drives (HDDs) have been a popular storage medium for many years, but with the rise of solid state drives (SSDs), many are wondering if HDDs are still a good choice for storing videos. There are pros and cons to using HDDs versus SSDs for video storage, and the best option depends on your specific needs and budget.

Quick Answers

Here are some quick answers to common questions about using HDDs for video storage:

  • HDDs tend to be cheaper per gigabyte than SSDs, making them good for large video libraries on a budget.
  • HDDs have higher capacity options available, with 10TB+ drives on the market.
  • SSDs are faster at reading/writing data, so they have better performance for editing video files.
  • HDDs are prone to fragmentation, which can degrade read/write speeds over time.
  • SSDs are more durable as they have no moving parts and are shock/vibration resistant.
  • HDDs use less power and generate less heat than SSDs in most use cases.

Storage Capacity Needs

When evaluating HDDs vs SSDs for video storage, one of the first considerations is your storage capacity needs. Video files tend to be very large, often into the gigabytes for high resolution or long recordings. A typical Blu-Ray movie in 1080p format is usually 4-8GB, for example. Even short smartphone videos at 4K resolutions can easily be hundreds of megabytes in size.

HDDs are well suited for massive video libraries thanks to high maximum capacities. Consumer HDDs are available at up to 20TB per drive as of 2023. Enterprise HDDs can go even higher. This makes it easy and relatively affordable to store thousands of videos in a single storage unit.

SSDs currently max out at around 8TB per drive on the consumer market. While enterprise SSDs can go higher, they are prohibitively expensive for most home or small business users. The lower capacities make SSDs less ideal for giant video collections, though they may be sufficient if your needs are more modest.

Example HDD and SSD Capacities

Storage Type Example Consumer Capacities Example Enterprise Capacities
HDD Up to 20TB Up to 40TB+
SSD (SATA) Up to 8TB Up to 64TB
SSD (NVMe) Up to 8TB Up to 64TB

As the table shows, HDDs can store substantially larger video collections on a single drive compared to SSDs. For massive libraries, the higher capacities of HDDs make them very competitive still.

Cost per Gigabyte

Another area where HDDs shine is in cost per gigabyte. HDDs remain much cheaper than SSDs for the same storage capacity. Let’s break down some estimated costs for consumer drives as of 2023:

  • 8TB HDD – Around $150, or $0.01875 per GB
  • 4TB SATA SSD – Around $300, or $0.075 per GB
  • 4TB NVMe SSD – Around $400, or $0.10 per GB

As you can see, HDDs are between 4-5x cheaper per gigabyte than the equivalent SSDs. This means you can store a lot more videos on an HDD while staying within a target budget. If affordability is a major factor in your video storage needs, HDDs are hard to beat.

Read and Write Speeds

One advantage of SSDs over HDDs is much faster read and write speeds. This improved performance is due to the lack of moving parts and more efficient data access.

For example, a typical 3.5″ HDD may have maximum sustained transfer speeds of around 150MB/s. A SATA SSD can reach 550MB/s, while an NVMe SSD can exceed 3,000MB/s. This makes a big difference when transferring large video files to and from the drive.

Faster speeds also have benefits when editing videos stored on the drive. The improved access times mean less lag and stuttering during timeline scrolling, applying edits, preview rendering, and export.

If your priorities are fast transfer rates and smooth editing performance, SSDs are the superior choice. However, HDDs can still handle basic playback, storage, and transfers adequately for many users’ needs.

Example SSD vs HDD Speeds

Sustained Read Up to 210MB/s Up to 550MB/s Up to 3,500MB/s
Sustained Write Up to 210MB/s Up to 520MB/s Up to 3,000MB/s

Durability and Reliability

HDDs contain moving parts like actuator arms and spinning platters. This can make them more prone to failures and reduced lifespan compared to SSDs.

SSDs have no moving parts and are better able withstand shock, vibration, dust, moisture, and other environmental hazards. Their average lifespan is typically much higher in terms of total data read and written over the drive’s life.

So while modern HDDs can still last many years with proper care, SSDs are the safer choice for long term storage of irreplaceable videos. Their improved durability and resistance to wear makes the chances of catastrophic drive failure much lower.

Power Efficiency

When it comes to power draw and energy efficiency, HDDs tend to have an advantage over SSDs. The spinning disks and mechanical operation of HDDs use less electricity overall in typical consumer use cases.

This means HDDs generate less heat and can help reduce your electricity bill if you have many drives running. The savings are relatively small per drive, but could add up significantly for large storage arrays.

If you want to minimize power consumption and heat output, HDDs may be preferred. SSDs are making strides in efficiency though with each new generation, so the gap is narrowing.

Example HDD vs SDD Power Consumption

Idle Power Draw 3-5W 2-4W
Load Power Draw 5-7W 3-7W

As you can see, HDDs tend to use 1-2 watts less power than SSDs on average. This advantage in efficiency can add up over time.

Noise Levels

Due to having no moving internal components, SSDs make absolutely no noise when in operation. HDDs have audible clicks, spins, and whirring from the platters and mechanical arm movements.

The noise levels are not extremely loud, but can be distracting in a quiet room. If you want completely silent storage, SSDs are the only choice. The sound profile of HDDs rarely is an issue when installed inside a desktop PC case though.


HDDs can suffer fragmented data scattered across different sectors of the disk platters over time. This occurs as files are modified, deleted, and rewritten. Fragmentation takes a gradual toll on HDD performance.

SSDs do not have the same fragmentation problems due to their different internal architecture. Their read/write speeds remain consistent even after heavy long term usage.

Periodic defragmentation can offset the declines in HDD response times. But SSDs maintain peak speeds throughout their lifespan without requiring any maintenance.

Encryption Support

For increased data security, many drives now support full disk encryption. This scrambles the contents of the disk at the hardware level so no readable data is accessible without the password.

Both HDDs and SSDs have robust encryption options available from major manufacturers. For example, Western Digital offers 256-bit AES encryption on many HDDs and SSDs. Seagate has similar encryption technologies on drives.

So encryption support is not really a differentiator when choosing between HDDs and SSDs. Both offer strong safeguards to prevent unauthorized access if a drive gets lost or stolen.


In terms of compatibility, HDDs and SSDs function with the same SATA interfaces on computers and storage servers. They use the same cables and power connections.

For general usage, HDDs and SSDs work interchangeably in most cases. Switching between the two does not require any hardware or software changes. Though SSDs tend to require adaptors for installation in drive bays designed for larger 3.5″ HDDs.

NVMe SSDs have greater compatibility considerations, as they require NVMe PCIe slots and drivers. But for SATA SSDs, the integration is seamless with existing HDD infrastructure.

Lifespan and Longevity

HDDs traditionally had a longer useful lifespan than early SSDs. However, SSD technology has improved substantially in reliability and endurance over the years.

Modern SSDs can withstand hundreds of terabytes written over several years at minimum. Some SSDs are rated for total bytes written in the multi-petabyte range over a decade.

Assuming moderately heavy use, SATA SSDs can realistically last 5-10 years on average. HDDs have comparable overall longevity now, typically in the 3-10 year range depending on the model and amount of use.

For achieving maximum lifespan, SSDs tend to edge out HDDs slightly. But both storage media can serve adequately for videos and other data storage needs over an extended period of time.

Example HDD vs SSD Endurance

MTBF Rating 1 million hours 1.5 million hours
Lifespan Estimate 3-10 years 5-10 years

Backup and Redundancy

No single storage drive lasts forever or is completely immune to failure. Whenever storing important videos, having backups is essential.

Both HDDs and SSDs should be combined with a solid backup strategy. This can include external drives, RAID arrays, cloud storage, tape drives, or duplication across multiple devices.

Ideally any videos would have at least one additional copy on a separate storage medium. Critical recordings may warrant even more redundancy. This minimizes the risk of catastrophic data loss.

The improved durability and lifespan of SSDs does not remove the need for backups. All storage media can eventually fail. Treating any single drive as the sole copy of valuable videos is asking for trouble.

Hybrid Drives

A middle ground option for video storage is hybrid drives (SSHDs). These combine a traditional HDD with some NAND flash storage onboard. The flash portion acts as a cache to improve speeds of frequently accessed data.

SSHDs do not reach full SSD speeds, but can be 2-5x faster than HDDs in many workloads. They also have large capacities from merging SSD and HDD technology.

As an alternative to pure HDDs or SSDs, SSHDs offer a decent compromise. They are worth considering if you want improved speeds without the full cost of an all SSD storage solution.

Custom NAS Appliances

Beyond standalone HDDs and SSDs, another option is a custom NAS (network attached storage) appliance built to your specifications.

Businesses like Synology and QNAP produce NAS units that can be equipped with multiple HDDs and SSDs in a RAID configuration. This allows great flexibility to balance price, performance, and capacity.

For example, a video editing team could outfit a NAS with SSDs for active project files and HDDs for archival storage. There are many ways to customize NAS units by mixing and matching drive technologies.

Cloud Storage

Backing up videos to the cloud is another strategy that can complement on-premises HDD or SSD storage. Major cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google offer relatively low costs for massive storage.

Cloud backups make it easy to securely access video files from anywhere. And geographic redundancy protects against damage or destruction at a single physical site.

However, restores from the cloud can be slow. So cloud services work best for archiving and disaster recovery rather than active editing and sharing.


So is HDD good for storing videos? In many cases, yes. HDDs still offer compelling advantages like huge capacities, low costs, and energy efficiency. They remain very viable for video storage needs, especially large collections on a budget.

SSDs do have benefits like faster speeds, more durability, and resistance to fragmentation. An SSD or combination of HDD and SSD in a NAS may be ideal for certain professional or high performance video workflows.

Consider your specific storage requirements, lifespan expectations, and budget when deciding between HDD and SSD. Either technology can be part of an effective video storage and backup strategy.