Choose the Right Internal Drive – HDD, SSD, SSHD?

Choose the Right Internal Drive – HDD, SSD, SSHD?

When it comes to choosing the right internal drive, not all drives are created equal

HDDs_Choose the right internal drive

There are a few things to consider when upgrading a drive in your computer or filling your new NAS or SAN. One of the most important will be to make sure it fits, the physical size. Consideration will also need to be given to your use of the drive or application and the weigh off between performance and budget. Keep reading to learn how to choose the right internal drive for you.

Physical Size

Desktop and Workstation computers give you more physical space for large drives and more of them. 3.5” Drives give you the ability to pack in more data on a single disk, currently up to 12TB. Be sure to backup though as that’s a lot of data to lose. Notebooks traditionally have a 2.5” drive, they come in two thicknesses 7mm and 15mm. Be sure to select the right one, otherwise you won’t be able to put the notebook back together. Some tablets and speciality devices have an even smaller 1.8” HDD, these have been discontinued and replaced by SSD.

Newer compact sizes are available for SSDs including mSATA and M.2. These can provide performance improvements as they run over the PCIe interface.


Great price per GB. Typically slower spinning spindle speed, either 5,400rpm or variable for energy saving. Lower mean time before failure (MTBF). A good option for those on a budget or archiving data.


Standard drives for notebook and desktops should spin at 7,200rpm, they used to be the best option but now SSD have come along.


Traditionally the best way to upgrade your notebook or desktop was to throw some more RAM in there and hope you notice the difference. Now with Solid State Drives (SSD) you can quickly and easily upgrade the performance of your computer. So if you have a setup that you love but just want a little more from it – upgrading to an SSD is the best option. There are lots of different types available but typically they will be a 2.5” slim option. These will fit in your notebook if it had a SATA HDD and for your desktop or workstation with the addition of a 3.5” adapter bracket if there’s no 2.5” slot. If you are using it to upgrade a system you are using (not building a new one) look for a drive that comes with cloning software. You may need a USB to SATA adapter or dock if you are using a notebook so make sure you have everything you need.


The major brands like Seagate and Western Digital all segregate their products into different classes and for different applications. Some of these include:

Surveillance: Made for continuous write operations and are available in large capacities.

NAS: Resist high vibration and can run a bit hotter as they are typically installed in multiples

Archive: A great option for offloading data to long term storage (preferably off site) they are low performance but come in cheaper per GB than other options.

Server: Typically servers will use the SAS interface which provides greater performance and throughput. Which is needed as SAS drives spin faster. Cheaper and smaller 2.5” options will spin at 10,000rpm. For better performance the 15,000rpm SAS rives are the right choice.


Our Recommendations


Upgrade to an SSD. You will kick yourself for not doing it earlier. You will experience much greater boot speeds and everything will feel quicker. If you’re on a budget or need larger storage on your device consider a Hybrid drive. These come in two flavours – either appearing as a single logical drive or two in your system.

Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) is a single logical drive that combines the speed of SSD with the cost and capacity of a HDD. Something like a 2TB HDD with an oversized cache that is SSD, preloading all your most commonly used files so you get up to 5x faster speed than a traditional HDD but still have the capacity of one.

Dual Drive Hybrid System gives you two logical drives in a single physical enclosure, one SSD for speed and one HDD for capacity. Install your operating system and applications on the SSD component of the drive and make sure to move your personal library folders to the larger HDD and save all your documents, pictures and movies there. This isn’t quite drag and drop so read up on it first of speak to us about it when you get your drive from us.

Desktop/Workstation Setup

The great thing about the extra size of a desktop or workstation is it gives you more room to play around with. The larger size also means we can use 3.5” drives allowing for much greater capacity and cheaper cost per GB options. Use an SSD with a 3.5” adapter bracket to load your OS and applications on. 128GB to 256GB should do the job. Then add a larger 2TB to 10TB 7,200rpm HDD for your data storage (be sure to move your personal folders so you don’t fill up your SSD). If you have the room and the right SATA controller (you can always add a new PCIe controller if needed) add two HDDs in RAID 1 (mirrored) to give you data security against disk failure.


Make sure you use NAS drives, they will last longer and fail less frequently than standard disks loaded in to a tower or rackmount NAS. There are two types

Standard: Variable rpm with lower mean time before failure (MTBF) and warranties, made for smaller annual workloads of up to 150TB/year.

Pro: 7,200rpm with a longer MTBF and warranty, they also deal with larger annual workloads of up to 300TB/year.

Server and Attached Storage

Servers and SAN/DAS devices will typically run the higher performance SAS interface. This provides greater performance of both the drives and the interface over SATA. Modern NAS devices and iSCSI allow companies to use cheaper attached storage but you will be limited to SATA which may not be suitable to your scenario.

Think about what you are using the server or storage group for as this will change the set up. If it is intensive database or high load email serving than consider 15k SAS HDDs or SSDs. Consideration needs to be given to the RAID level employed to gain the best performance.

Current SAN devices allow for fancy storage setups with the ability to tier hot and cold data dynamically allowing you to gain the best performance and largest capacity for the best price. You can install SSD at the top level, 15k SAS HDDs next and 7,200 SATA/SAS drives for the cold data. The system moves data between these tiers as required for best utilisation.

Let us Help you Choose the Right Internal Drive

There is a lot to think of so why not give us a call, or contact us here, and we can talk to you about the best options for your scenario.

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