For which applications are hard drives still important?

Since the introduction of flash memory, the end of the hard disk drive (HDD) has been predicted many times. But the classic storage device remains and remains the standard in many application areas. According to TRENDFOCUS, 259 million hard drives were shipped last year – a typical example. Their total capacity reached 1,338 zettabytes, which is almost a third increase compared to 2020. Hard drives with larger storage capacities have never been offered before.


But which hard drives are important today, and which hard drives will remain so for years to come?

Online storage in central and cloud data centers: Digital services now permeate almost every business and large areas of society. Whether in Industry 4.0 environments, connected vehicles, streaming platforms or social networks, huge and ever-growing volumes of data are stored on hard drives in data centers. Hard drives are simply the most economical medium for these large online storage devices; their capacity continues to increase due to the development of technology, while the price per terabyte continues to decrease. Flash memory is more expensive and cannot be produced in sufficient quantities. Therefore, it is mainly used as a cache when the data transfer capacity of hard disk arrays is insufficient.

Network-attached storage in businesses and homes: Network-attached storage (NAS) systems serve as central data storage and backup storage for many small and medium-sized businesses, but also increasingly for homes. There, they assume the responsibilities of media servers and control centers for the connected home. Hard drives are the ideal storage medium for these versatile devices, and not just for cost reasons. Moreover, they can easily handle transfer speeds on most corporate and home networks, where the high performance of flash memory is only noticeable when transferring many small files. In this case, a cache SSD is sufficient, in which some NAS systems have a separate slot.

CCTV: As people’s security needs increase and systems become cheaper and cheaper, the CCTV market is developing, making them affordable for private users. Most high-definition cameras now offer video streams that hard drives can store very well – high-speed sequential data recording is one of their strengths, and even parallel recording of multiple HD streams is no problem. They also offer plenty of storage space at a low cost, making them ideal for the large volumes of data generated by modern 4K and 8K cameras.

External storage for PC users and gamers: flash storage has replaced hard drives in almost all client systems, but users are using them less frequently in devices today, as PC, laptop, and game console manufacturers often install fairly small SSDs simply because of cost. have memory capacity. In the era of HDD. At the same time, their storage needs are increasing, as, for example, personal photo collections or the like multiply, and new, more complex games can take up several tens of gigabytes of storage space. Typically, data will be stored externally in the “cloud”, but people may prefer to access local storage for cost or security reasons. 2 or 4 terabyte external hard drives are therefore extremely popular and provide many users with an easy and inexpensive way to expand their storage space.

Archiving: When it comes to long-term data storage, hard drives along with tapes are the storage medium of choice. Hard drives cost a bit more for the same capacity, but score points for faster access times when certain documents need to be retrieved for analysis. In addition, hard drives can use optimization mechanisms to reduce the amount of data to be archived, which can significantly reduce costs, depending on the type of data.

So SSDs should never completely replace HDDs. The two environments will continue to co-exist for years to come, as the need for storage space increases almost everywhere and only HDDs can provide high storage capacities at low cost as required in data centers, cloud and other application areas.

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