Hybrid Drives and Data Recovery

Over the past ten years, solid state drive (SSD) usage has soared. Using essentially the same flash memory chips found in USB flash drives and SD cards, solid state drives offer huge advantages over traditional hard disk drives. But a new, third drive is now available – the hybrid drive. So what is it? While hard disk drive (HDD) technology has advanced in terms of capacity, performance wise, they’ve stalled. There is a simple reason why we haven’t all ditched our HDDs and replaced them with SSDs – cost per gigabyte is still a lot less, meaning SSDs are much more expensive.

In the past few years, though, manufacturers like Samsung and Seagate have begun to market a third option – the solid state hybrid drive, or SSHD. The hybrid drive combines the speed of an SSD with the cost-effectiveness of an HDD. This is achieved by combining a small amount of flash memory found in SSDs with the electromagnetic platters of HDDs. Data that needs to be accessed quickly – also known as ‘hot data’ – is stored on the SSD component, and all other data is stored on the HDD component. It is essentially the same as installing a hard disk drive and solid state drive on your machine, only with added optimisation.

So what are the advantages of having a solid state hybrid drive (SSHD) over a traditional mechanical hard disk drive (HDD) or a flash-based solid state drive (SSD)? As you’d expect from a drive utilising NAND flash memory chips, SSHDs are a lot faster than HDDs, without the hefty price tag of SSDs. Although they are pricier than HDDs, an SSHD won’t set you back as much as an SSD will, due to only a small portion being flash-based. Another benefit the SSD component brings is decreased power usage, which is achieved by the ‘hot’ data being processed by the SSD.

There are some disadvantages, however. Firstly, you still have all the potential physical hard drive problems you get with an HDD – head crashes are still very much possible if the SSHD is bumped, knocked or dropped. Similarly, retrieving data from the hard drive component is a certainly not as speedy as it would be if it was entirely flash-based. There is also the issue of noise – although much of the operations are performed by the SSD component, there are still moving parts in an SSHD. In saying this, though, solid state hybrid drives offer a great compromise for businesses and home users alike. While SSD data recovery is typically very difficult, HDD data recovery isn't. As SSHDs typically store only operating system data and program files on the flash portion, with the rest of your files (photos, documents, videos etc) on the HDD component, it is relatively simple to recover your data

Data Recovery