Despite computer technology and other sectors of the tech industry developing exponentially faster, magnetic hard disk drives (HDDs) are still the technology of choice for storing computer and server data. However, the popularity of HDDs may begin to wane as other storage options like SSDs become more prominent. This begs the question – Will hard drives become obsolete?
This article will detail all you need to know about this subject, including the role of hard drives, their future, the different types of storage technologies that could replace hard drives, and whether or not they’ll become obsolete in our daily lives.
What Is a Hard Drive?
A hard drive, also known as a hard disk drive or hard disk, is a type of external drive that stores all formats of digital content such as data files like music, videos, and documents, as well as operating systems, and applications in your computer. The other components in your computer work to show you the files and applications you have stored on your hard drive.
All stored files on a hard drive are measured by the file size. Files like documents (txt) are smaller in size than pictures and music, while videos are usually the largest-sized files. Files are measured in terms of kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes.
Will Hard Drives Be Replaced by Future Technology?
Yes. As the storage market is changing, it’s very likely that hard drives will be replaced by future technology. According to research from the online company Backblaze, the use of hard disks could come to an end soon. Solid-state drives (SSDs) are already replacing hard disks as a primary storage source for computers. Hard drives are still relevant for commercial storage though, this is largely due to the high cost of SSDs.
The fact that solid-state drives are more reliable than hard drives for long-term use has made the idea of switching to SSDs more attractive, despite the much higher cost to storage capacity ratio. This is something very important to consider when building your own computer or your own server.
The speed of a hard drive is dependent on the revolutions it makes per minute (RPM). This can vary with the different variants of hard disks. A traditional hard disk will, however, perform slower in comparison to flash memory due to its mechanical nature and the fact that data in HDD is fragmented. What this means is that computers with hard drives will boot slower and take more time transferring files.
HDDs rely on the rotation of platter disks as well as the movement of a read/write head to write data. Substantial power is consumed for all these mechanical parts to function optimally, which is why many manufacturers lean towards SSDs when building computers with a limited battery capacity.
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The constant rotation of platter disks and movement of read/write heads causes hard drives to produce a distracting noise and cause vibrations. The noise becomes more prominent when hard drives carry out heavy operations such as the storage of large files. SSDs on the other hand, produce virtually no noise at all.
Hard disk drives have a high chance of experiencing mechanical failures since they contain moving parts, many of which are located close to each other. A sudden drop or shudder could result in friction between these parts and result in damages which could, in turn, lead to overall device corruption. This is why hard drives should be handled with the utmost care.
Technologies and Trends That Could Make Hard Drives Obsolete
While hard drives still enjoy a good measure of popularity as a medium for data storage, they may soon be phased out as other technologies and trends continue to rise. Some of these exciting new technologies that you should look out for are listed and briefly explained below.
DNA storage uses DNA density to store large amounts of data in very tiny formats. A single gram of DNA can store up to 215 petabytes or 215,000,000 gigabytes of data. This density far outweighs that of other storage technology. It will, however, take a while before this technology can become viable due to its writing speeds being only 400 bytes per second. DNA is also very expensive, as just one megabyte can cost thousands of dollars.
Crystal etching is a technology that uses laser pulses to write data in nano-scale dots form. The data is written on the 3-dimensional structure of a quartz disc with the capacity to store up to 360 terabytes of data. Data in this format can stay stable for billions of years, hypothetically speaking, and, though this technology is promising, it’s still in its early stages and may continue to be too costly for everyday data storage applications.
Increasing Popularity of SSD Storage
Solid State Drives (SSDs), also referred to as semiconductor storage devices or solid-state disks, are devices that use an integrated circuit assembly to store data and use flash memory as secondary storage. SSDs do not have a physical spinning disk and lack the movable read/write heads found in floppy disks and hard disk drives (HDDs).
Cloud storage is an exciting newer technology that stores data on the Internet. Gadgets are quickly becoming just tools or dumb terminals from which we can store data on the cloud rather than physically. Any user with a fast wired or wireless interface can store data without having to do so locally. Although data centers still require hard drives, cloud storage could easily mean an end for hard drives.
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When Will Hard Drives Become Obsolete?
In a while. SSDs may be catching up to hard drives in popularity, but hard drives are still a long way from becoming obsolete. This is because hard drives remain the most cost-effective for computers and servers. More recent technologies may supersede magnetic storage when it comes to capacity and longevity, but the cost of ownership is very expensive.
SSD drives will see an increase in use over time if prices eventually drop, but when there’s a need for large databases to be stored, magnetic storage will have the advantage thanks to its cost-effectiveness.
What This Means for Businesses
The imminent phasing out of hard disk drives will most likely happen as soon as more efficient technologies become more mainstream. This should have a positive effect on businesses, as faster, less fragile storage options will save time and be less risky. Below, let’s consider some of these advantages over disk drives that alternative storage systems possess.
Hard drives can take a while to process heavier files. With alternative storage technologies, this may not be the case as files can be processed at a faster rate of up to 10 times depending on the task. This means that a lot of time will be saved and channeled into other activities to make businesses more productive.
Businesses will benefit from fewer mechanical damages. The need for repairs that may cost money will be much less common. Also, unlike hard drives where power must be consumed for the mechanical parts to function properly, these new technologies consume a lot less power, leading to fewer energy costs.
With less distraction from noise coming from rolling mechanical parts in hard drives, workers using laptops with alternative storage can focus more on work. Additionally, with less time, wasted on waiting for files to be transferred, workers will have more time to work on their tasks.
Do Hard Drives Have a Future?
Despite the sale of SSDs on the rise, traditional hard disk drives still see some popularity with private users and businesses. Despite this, there has been a bit of a threat to hard disk drives due to the decreasing price of SSDs in recent years.
Traditional hard drive producers understand that they must either improve HDD technology to ensure that SSDs don’t render hard drives obsolete or join the SSD market themselves. For now, the main advantage that hard drives have over SSDs and other storage technologies is the fact that they are a cheaper alternative. If other storage technologies become more accessible and cheaper, this might lead to the death of hard drives.
Will Hard Drives Become Obsolete FAQs?
No. PCs with hard disk drives are still very much common because other options are quite pricey.
A major advantage of hard disks is the fact that it is a source of cheap storage. These days, storage space on hard disks could be up to one and two terabytes for laptops.
Yes. SSDs could render hard drives obsolete in the future because of their stronger performance. SSDs can be faster than hard drives up to 10 times, depending on the task at hand.
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A typical hard drive can last between three to five years, according to a 2013 study by Backblaze.
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