Should I use an SSD or HDD for backups?

When it comes to choosing between a solid-state drive (SSD) or a hard disk drive (HDD) for backups, there are some key differences to consider. SSDs and HDDs both offer effective ways to back up important data, but they have different strengths and weaknesses that impact performance, reliability, and cost.

SSDs use flash memory with no moving parts, allowing very fast data transfer speeds. HDDs store data on spinning platters like a record player, which is slower but allows for much larger and cheaper storage capacities. Looking at speed, reliability, capacity, cost, portability, power consumption, noise, and security can help determine if an SSD or HDD is best for backups.


SSDs are faster than HDDs for data backups due to their higher read and write speeds. SSDs have no moving parts, allowing data to be accessed instantly. In comparison, HDDs rely on spinning platters and moving head arms to locate and retrieve data, which is a slower mechanical process. According to Tekie, SSD read speeds can reach up to 550 MB/s while HDD read speeds top out around 200 MB/s. For write speeds, SSDs average around 160 MB/s compared to HDDs which average 80 MB/s.

The faster data transfer rates of SSDs make them better suited for backup tasks where speed is important, like incremental or differential backups. Their speed advantage is most noticeable when backing up large numbers of small files. Overall, SSDs provide faster backup and restore times compared to HDDs.


SSDs tend to be more reliable than HDDs in the short term because they have no moving parts. However, some studies have found that SSDs can become less reliable for long-term data storage compared to HDDs.

For example, one analysis by Backblaze looked at SSD failure rates over time and found they started failing at higher rates after 3-4 years of use. They conjectured this could be due to wear and tear on NAND flash memory cells from repeated write/erase cycles 1. Other factors like controller failure can also reduce SSD lifespan.

In contrast, HDDs have moving parts like platters and heads that are more prone to sudden failure. But their failure rates tend to be more consistent over time. HDDs can often last 5 years or longer if stored properly.

So for backups and archival storage, HDDs may be a safer long-term bet. But for live drives with active daily use, SSDs provide better short-term reliability.


When it comes to storage capacity, HDDs generally offer more storage space compared to SSDs of the same form factor and price point. HDDs can store larger amounts of data thanks to their lower cost per gigabyte. For example, a common 3.5″ HDD may offer capacities from 500GB to 10TB, while 2.5″ SSDs in the same price range typically max out at 2TB ({“url”:””}). This makes HDDs better suited for tasks that require enormous amounts of storage like backups, media libraries, and enterprise storage. However, SSD capacities continue to grow while costs decrease, making them viable options for more storage use cases. Still, dollar for dollar, HDDs offer substantially higher total capacity.


When it comes to cost per gigabyte of storage, HDDs are generally cheaper than SSDs. HDDs can offer more storage capacity at a lower price point compared to SSDs. According to this source, HDDs were initially 10x lower in price per GB than SSDs. While the gap has narrowed over time as SSD prices have come down, HDDs still provide more affordable storage per GB.

For backups where large capacity is needed, HDDs allow you to maximize the amount of storage you can get for your money. If cost is the primary factor, an HDD will allow you to back up more data affordably. However, the tradeoff is slower performance compared to an SSD.


When it comes to portability, solid state drives (SSDs) have a clear advantage over hard disk drives (HDDs). SSDs use flash memory and have no moving parts. This makes them much smaller and lighter than traditional HDDs. According to Crucial, SSDs can weigh as little as 50 grams, whereas 2.5-inch portable HDDs weigh around 100-200 grams.

The lack of moving parts also makes SSDs better able to withstand vibration, shocks, and drops. So if you’re looking for a durable backup drive you can easily carry around, an SSD is a safer bet. Though HDDs have improved in portability over the years, they still rely on delicately spinning platters and moving read/write heads. Sudden impacts can damage these internal components and cause errors or failure.

In summary, if portable storage for backups is important, SSDs are much smaller, lighter, and more resilient. Their flash memory construction makes SSDs the superior choice for on-the-go data storage and transportation.

Power Consumption

SSDs tend to use significantly less power than HDDs. According to Window Central, SSDs use around 2-3 watts when active, while HDDs can use up to 7-10 watts. SSDs also use less power at idle, drawing only around 0.5 watts compared to over 5 watts for many HDDs.

The lower power draw of SSDs provides advantages for laptops and other portable devices where battery life is a concern. SSDs generate less heat as well, allowing computers to run cooler and quieter. For data centers focused on energy efficiency, SSDs can also provide meaningful power savings, especially when scaled across many drives.

Overall, SSDs are the clear winner when it comes to power consumption. Their lower energy needs give them a decisive edge for many applications.


One of the key advantages of SSDs over HDDs is that SSDs generate significantly less noise during operation. This is because SSDs have no moving mechanical parts, unlike HDDs which rely on spinning platters and moving read/write heads (source: The noise difference is quite noticeable, with HDDs producing audible spinning and clicking sounds during access, while SSDs operate almost silently.

For applications where a quiet computer is important, such as recording audio or video, SSDs are greatly preferred over noisy HDDs. Gamers also tend to prefer the silent operation of SSDs over HDDs. Comparative noise tests demonstrate the significant noise reduction offered by SSDs (source:

In summary, the noiseless operation of SSDs makes them better suited for noise-sensitive applications as well as for general users who prefer a silent computing experience.


When it comes to encryption, both SSDs and HDDs can utilize encryption to protect data. However, there are some differences in how encryption works on each type of drive.

SSDs can make use of full-disk encryption through TCG Opal compliance. This allows the entire SSD storage to be encrypted and decrypted on the fly through the drive’s controller. SSDs also have an advantage in encryption speed due to their faster performance compared to HDDs (cite:

For HDDs, encryption is done through software rather than by the drive itself. The encryption/decryption process can cause a noticeable performance hit on HDDs. However, software encryption allows for more flexibility, like encrypting only certain partitions rather than the full disk.

Overall, both SSDs and HDDs allow for protecting data through encryption. SSDs may have a slight edge for full disk encryption performance. But HDD software encryption provides more flexibility if only encrypting certain data.


In summary, HDDs tend to be the better option for most backup needs due to their larger capacities and lower costs compared to SSDs. HDDs allow you to back up more data for less money. However, SSDs may be preferable for backups in certain situations where speed, reliability, portability, or noise are critical factors.

For personal backups or archival purposes, a large high capacity HDD is usually the most cost-effective option. The large capacity allows you to keep years worth of backups on a single drive. HDDs can offer speed boosts when paired with caching, allowing faster access to frequently used files.

For travel or frequent transport, an SSD may be preferred for backup due to its durability, silent operation, and resistance to fragmentation over time. The faster speed of SSDs also makes shorter backup windows ideal for on-the-go backup.

For mission critical or real-time backups, the speed, reliability, and durability of SSDs may justify their higher cost. The faster transfer speeds allow quick backup windows. SSDs lack moving parts that can fail and have lower risk of bad sectors over time.

In situations where noise, power consumption, or fragmentation are not priority concerns, HDDs will generally provide the most storage capacity per dollar for backups. But the portability, speed, durability, and reliability of SSDs make them better suited for certain backup needs where those factors are critical.