What Is a Solid State Hybrid Hard Drive?

If you have been using computers for virtually any amount of time, you’re likely familiar with traditional hard disks drives. They are mechanical devices consisting of a spinning magnetic platter or “disk” and read/write heads that read and record data to the disk. Hard disks have come a long way over the past couple of decades with better performance, larger capacities, and lower costs. However, hard disks can only spin so fast which limits their ultimate performance. They also solve the performance problem by dispensing with the spinning disk in favor of flash memory, but they are extremely expensive. Enter the solid state hybrid hard drive, a new type of drive that delivers performance, reliability, and capacity without the high cost of solid state drives.

Solid state hybrid hard drives are just what the name implies: a hybrid between solid state drives and hard disk drives. A single housing contains both a traditional spinning magnetic disk and high speed flash memory. The traditional hard disk is like any other: it can store massive amounts of data, but offers limited performance. The flash memory contained in a hybrid drive typically is relatively small in terms of capacity (after all, solid state flash memory is costly). However, it is a fast performer.

Since both capacity and performance are available in a single disk, you get the best of both worlds without having to choose one over the other. They place your most frequently used files on the flash portion of the drive so that you get the best disk performance possible most of the time. Your other data resides on the traditional hard disk where it’s readily available whenever you need it. If you need to access data on the disk, it won’t be served up as quickly as the data residing on the flash memory. However, it will be served up in a manner consistent with traditional disks.

The benefits of choosing a hybrid storage device are numerous. For example, you get the performance of solid state drives most of the time without the costs of a full-blown solid state hard disk drive. You also get the capacity of a traditional hard disk. In addition, boot up times and application performance often improves.

They are available for individual PCs as well as well as for network storage components. Expect to pay more for a hybrid drive than a traditional hard disk due to the inclusion of the solid state components and the added complexity of caching frequently used data. In a network environment where performance is a must, hybrid storage is a cost-effective choice that is capable of delivering up to seven times the performance of hard disks without the capacity limitations or costs associated with all flash arrays.