Technology Solutions: What’s the Difference with Storage Devices

Data storage has transformed over the years. In the beginning, data storage hardware was larger, and the amount of data you could store was much smaller. But now, storage devices like other technology solutions are smaller, can hold an enormous amount of data, and operate more efficiently. The most common types of storage devices are:

  • Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
  • Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA)
  • Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment (PATA)
  • Small Computer System Interface (SCSI)

What is HDD?

An HDD is a mechanical data storage device that uses magnetic storage to store digital data. HDD is made up of glass or aluminum and is coated with a  magnetic material. HDD consists of a spinning disk with a mechanical arm known as an actuator that reads and writes the data. If you’re familiar with how a record needle rides along a turntable, an HDD operates similarly. It has a lengthy lifespan but is slower and more fragile than other data storage devices because of its mechanical components.

A computer’s hard drive includes several hard disks encased with a metal case to protect them from dust. HDD uses SATA and PATA to connect to the system.

What is SSD?

An SSD is a newer technology that uses flash memory to store computer data. Flash memory uses independent memory storage bits. These are instantly accessed by the controller and make an SSD much faster than an HDD.

What Is PATA?

Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment acts as an internal port and was the standard used for a long time to connect hard drives to motherboards inside a computer. PATA cables are recognizable for their flat and wide appearance. They initially featured 40 wires that gradually increased to 80 wires. PATA can transmit 66.6 megabytes of data and requires 5 V power.

They feature mechanical parts and operate on parallel signaling technology, which enables them to transfer multiple data simultaneously.

What Is SATA?

Serial Advanced Technology Attachment was introduced in 2001 and has essentially replaced PATA. SATA features seven wires that can transmit up to 300 megabytes of data. They use only 250 millivolts of power and are much narrower than PATA. They use signaling technology that transfers data one step at a time.

What Is SCSI?

SCSI is a much more advanced version of SATA and PATA in terms of speed, pricing, and operation. You may have heard it pronounced as “scuzzy.” These devices have a processor directly on the drive, meaning performance is not as dependent on the computer. SCSI cables use a computer system interface for connecting to peripheral devices and hard drives. Its transfer speed comes close to 320 MB/S. You can use SCSI either internally or externally.

Technology Solution Differences Between HDD And SSD

While both HDD and SSD are storage devices, considerable differences exist between the two.

  • Mechanical Parts. HDD contains mechanical parts such as an actuator that helps spin the disks in a hard drive. SSD only has electrical components such as ICs and doesn’t contain any mechanical parts.
  • I/O Operations. HDD supports fewer I/O operations per second, while SSD supports more I/O operations per second.
  • Reliability. HDD is less reliable than SSD as it comprises mechanical parts that can be subject to failure and crash. SSDs are a much safer option for storing data and preventing data crashes.
  • Price. A considerable difference exists between the costs of SSD and HDDs. An SSD can be double the price of an HDD. The significant difference in pricing is due to the newer and more efficient technology solutions in SSDs.
  • Storage Capacity. HDDs have higher storage capacities, i.e., 500 GB to 18 TB. SSDs have lower storage capacities ranging from 120 GB to 8 TB.
  • Speed. SSDs have much higher speeds (3000 MB/S) compared to HDDs (160 MB/S). PCs that include SSD drives are faster in starting, opening, and saving data files. For example, booting a computer with an SSD storage device takes 10 seconds to boot, while one with an HDD takes four minutes to start. 
  • Suitability. HDD is suitable for extensive and long-term storage. In contrast, SSD is ideal for laptops due to their low power consumption.
  • Noise. HDD creates a lot of noise, whereas SSD is silent in operation.
  • Safety. If you ever dropped your laptop, you wouldn’t damage an SSD. However, HDDs can be easily damaged and can lose data.
  • Battery Life. Since an SSD doesn’t require a lot of power, your laptop’s battery lasts longer. Whereas HDD uses more energy, it’s not the best option for laptop computers.

Technology Solution Differences Between SATA, PATA, and SCSI

The functionality between PATA and SATA is very similar. However, there is a difference in technology and capability.  

  1. Type of Connector and Pins. PATA uses a 40-pin connector, whereas SATA uses a 7-pin connector. SCSI uses a 50-pin flat connector. PATA has four power connector pins, whereas SATA has 15 connector pins. SCSI offers 7 to 15 power connector pins.
  2. Transmission Technology. PATA uses parallel signaling technology. SATA uses signaling technology, and SCSI uses serial technology. These technology solutions have rapidly improved over time.
  3. Transfer Speed. The transfer speeds of SATA and PATA vary greatly. For example, PATA UDMA-6 has 133 MBPS speed, whereas SATA 6.0 has 600 MBPS speed. SCSI offers speeds as fast as 320 MB/S.
  4. Cable Length. PATA measures 36 inches, whereas SATA measures 40 inches. SCSI measures 1.2 inches.
  5. Power. PATA uses 5V, whereas SATA uses 250 mV. SCSI uses 5V to 12V power.
  6. Power Connector. PATA has a Molex power connector, whereas SATA has a Special SATA power connector. SCSI has a power connector named Centronics 50 or Telco 50.
  7. Connection. PATA does not support hot plugging. SATA and SCSI support hot plugging.
  8. Speed. The average speed of PATA is 133 MBPS, whereas the average for SATA is 3 GB. The average speed of SCSI is 80 MB/S.
  9. Bit Rate. PATA’s bit rate is 16 MB/S to 133 MB/S. SATA’s bit rate is 150 MB/S to 600 MB/S. SCSI’s bit rate varies from 10 MB/S to 40 MB/S depending upon the type.
  10. External Hard Drive. PATA does not allow you to use an external hard drive. SATA and SCSI allow you to use external hard drives in a system.

Just like all other technology, data storage devices continue to evolve. When looking for hardware, getting the latest and most advanced technology may not be necessary. What matters is how you will use it and whether older technology will work for your needs. Understanding the difference between data storage devices will help you select the one that’s best for your business needs.

Contact your managed services provider for additional information on data storage devices.  


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