According to a new report from TechRadar Pro, three of the world’s largest computer manufacturers no longer produce laptop computers with hard disk drives (HDDs).
Researchers reviewed available laptops from HP.com, Dell.com, and Lenovo.com and were unable to locate models with standard HDDs. While none of the manufacturers have publicized plans to move towards solid-state drive (SSD) exclusivity, none currently offer an HDD-equipped model to consumers in the United States.
For years, laptop manufacturers have gradually moved away from HDD storage.
Of course, the report doesn’t mean the complete obsolescence of hard drives — the older storage technology is still essential for servers, large-scale storage environments, and conventional desktop PCs.
Even so, hard drives simply aren’t the best storage option for portable computers. Even with major advances in HDD design, hard drives are more susceptible to physical damage than solid-state media. They also consume more energy and create more heat, which requires engineering considerations.
Solid-state drives are generally preferable for most consumers, but they have one major drawback: capacity. A 2.5-inch hard drive can hold upwards of 500 gigabytes (GB) while maintaining a low cost-per-gigabyte of storage. However, thanks to the rise of cloud computing and data backup services, most laptop buyers have little use for high-capacity storage devices.
While SSDs provide advantages, they’re still susceptible to data loss.
TechRadar’s article notes that laptop hard drives are “far slower [and] more fragile” than SSDs. That’s largely true — but consumers should remember that no storage technology is perfect.
While SSDs are less susceptible to physical damage (and therefore more likely to survive a fall), they have a limited operating lifespan. Solid-state media usually uses NAND flash chips, which store data with electrical charges; over time, the cells that hold those charges become less reliable.
Techniques like wear leveling can extend the lifespan of SSDs by distributing write operations equally across the NAND memory. Unfortunately, wear leveling isn’t a magic bullet: Under normal operating conditions, an SSD may begin to fail after about five years.
SSDs are also susceptible to other common causes of data loss including:
- Electrical damage
- Data corruption
- Virus or malware infection
- User error (including accidental deletion)
That doesn’t mean that you should avoid laptops with SSDs — solid-state storage is a better option overall. Just don’t assume that your brand-new laptop will hold your data forever, regardless of whether it arrives with a state-of-the-art storage device.
Data backup remains an important practice for personal computer users.
At Datarecovery.com, we operate fully equipped laboratories at every location, and we’ve received cases with every conceivable configuration of storage media. Laptop data recovery makes up a large percentage of our daily caseload, and SSD-equipped models receive quite a bit of our attention.
The takeaway: If you store important files on your computer, make sure they’re backed up to at least one other physical location. Cloud storage services are an effective option, but check your backups regularly to make sure that they’re usable.
If you lose data from a hard drive, SSD, or from any other device, our team is ready to help. We offer free media evaluations, and our no data, no charge guarantee provides peace of mind as your case progresses.
To start a new case, click here for our online evaluation form or call us at 1-800-237-4200.