Generally, solid-state and flash technology are one in the same, but whereas a solid-state drive connects to a computer with the same connections as a hard drive, flash storage can be plugged directly into the computer’s mainboard instead of at the hard drive level, not just allowing you to have the storage be fitted into place, but also minimising the amount of wires, if requiring any at all.
That makes flash and solid-state storage the better technologies to have in a mobile computer, because they’re faster, lighter, and better on batteries, which doesn’t matter as much with a desktop, but is a pretty solid reason to opt for them in a portable.
All machines — desktops included — prefer SSDs and flash media because they are much, much faster storage options, and while larger hard drives are generally preferable in bigger machines, the combination of technologies can be most helpful.
As such, you can find hybrid drives which take the massive storage from a conventional hard drive — HDD technology — and blend it with the flash media found inside solid-state storage — SSD — to create hybrids that move commonly accessed files to the solid-state section for faster access without needing to rely on a full solid-state drive, which would bring the cost up because it’s a more expensive technology.
Apple’s Fusion drive technology is one such example, which relies on a 128GB solid-state drive paired with a 1 or 3TB drive to do just that, providing a solid-state haven to move files to for easy access in a fast and timely manner.
In the desktop world, that sort of speed is useful, as is keeping a larger disk storage size, because you want as much space as you can possibly can for as many files as you can make or download.
In fact, you can still find HDDs inside laptops and desktops today, and they’re much, much more cost effective, a point proven when you see that a 1TB solid-state drive can cost over $500 (and as much as $999!) while a 1TB notebook hard disk drive fetches a tag closer to $100. That’s five times the difference.
Essentially, if you need lots of storage, hard drives with moving parts offer it up in spades, with 4 and 6TB drives for desktop computers or external storage solutions for between $200 and $400, storage amounts that would cost a fortune right now if they were offered in solid-state flash-based drives.
At one point, that will change, and solid-state will overtake completely, as it’s even beginning to show up in the world of external drives, beating its hard drive competitors in size and weight while costing a lot more in the process.
But if a laptop is where you’re going to be, and a mobile machine is what you’re using, with battery life being key, you’ll want to consider something with solid-state or flash inside, as it will just end up performing better overall, not just for the drive, but for the computer as a whole.