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SSDs vs. hard drives vs. hybrids: Which storage tech is right for you?

Marco Chiappetta | Jan. 18, 2013
With the fairly recent rise of solid-state drives and hybrid drives (which mix standard hard drives with solid-state memory), the storage landscape has significantly altered, creating a cornucopia of confusing options for the everyday consumer.

DIY hybrid storage configurations

That being said, some people create DIY hybrid storage configurations by linking a standard hard drive and an SSD with specialized caching software. (This is not the same as simply plopping both an SSD and an HDD into your PC.) Solid-state cache drives often ship with proprietary caching software included, though you can also take advantage of Intel's Smart Response Technology if you want to use an SSD that isn't specifically marketed as a cache drive.

Functionally, the setup performs the same as a typical hybrid drive, though stand-alone SSD caches often come in larger capacities than the paltry flash storage you'll find on most self-contained hybrid drives--meaning more of your data will receive an SSD-powered speed boost. On the other hand, you'll have to buy both a hard-disk drive and a solid-state drive, which can get pricey. You'll also need to configure the setup manually, whereas self-contained hybrid drives are much more of a plug-and-play option.


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