Should I store my samples on SSD or HDD?

Should I store my samples on SSD or HDD? |

This article will discuss whether you should store your samples and libraries on SSD or HDD.

SSD and HDD debate has been a commonly discussed debate for quite some time. Both have pros and cons, and one may be more suitable than the other in certain situations. For music production purposes, storing samples, and loading samples on the go, we shall consider, discuss, and give you clear guidelines for how you should use external storage.

Let’s start by discussing what SSD and HDD are. Both are storage devices that can be stored internally (within your system) or externally (outside your system). SSD is called Solid State Drive, and HDD is called Hard Disk Drive.

The primary difference between both comes from how data is stored and accessed. HDDs use mechanical spinning disks and a moving read/write head to access data, whereas SSDs use memory chips. SSD is a modern-day technology, which is faster in terms of reading-writing speeds and more efficient in many ways, but it is also more expensive.

It’s a good practice to store your samples on an SSD, HDD, or any external storage device, so that you have created a backup of all your samples, loops, and instruments data, which you can access anytime you want, in real-time or in case of data loss.

Should I store my samples on SSD or HDD?

SSD is a better but more expensive solution than HDD for storing samples and accessing them in real-time while running your sessions because SSDs are at least 10x faster than HDDs, have a longer lifespan, are more reliable, and are quiet as they produce lesser heat and noise

Let’s do an in-depth comparison of HDDs and SSDs and analyze which one is better for your needs. 

SSDs are faster, as they use sequential reading and writing speed, and hence are better for accessing samples in real-time while your session is running. You can get 500-3000 MBPS of data processing in SSD. 
The speed of HDD depends on the drive’s rotation speed and hence gets limited by its mechanical properties. An HDD can copy/paste and read data at about 50-300 MBPS of speed. 
Modern SSDs can handle approximately 3,o00 write cycles, but their life span has been prolonged by a new data processing algorithm called the wear-leveling principle. Also, since SSDs have no moving parts, they can last longer. They can last up to ten years
HDDs tend to last around 3-5 years because the spinning disk wears down and tends to get slower. Hence, you will need to find a better place to store your samples every 3-5 years. 
Security & Data Recovery
As SSD is a newer technology, engineers and technicians charge higher to recover data. 
You can recover the data in an HDD more easily and at more affordable rates
A 1 TB SSD typically costs around $100-$200, with $99/TB of increase in space. 
On the other hand, an HDD costs $50/TB
SSDs draw less power as it has no mechanical components. 
HDDs draw more power because of their spinning disk technology. 
SSDs are shock resistant and are more durable. Some manufacturers mention the shock resistance of drop from a certain height (in meters). 
HDDs are more fragile than SSDs, as they have more tangible components. HDDs also produce more heat and wear off faster due to constant spinning. 
Noise & Heat
SSD produces less noise and can create quiet studio environments for monitoring and recording. SSDs also stay cooler over longer periods of time. 
HDDs create more noise due to the spinning disk mechanics and get heated more easily. That may interrupt your workflow, especially during recordings, mixing-mastering, production, and other monitoring purposes. 

Is SSD or HDD better for long-term storage?

SSDs are better for long-term usage, more reliable, and faster, but they’re also more expensive. If space is your priority, then HDD is a more affordable alternative, as it costs roughly $50/TB compared to an SSD, which costs $100-$200/TB. But the lifespan of an SSD is more than twice as compared to an HDD, so keep that in mind.

Note that some SSDs with thunderbolt connectivity may lack connectivity, as you may not be able to connect them with USB slots. So I recommend you be careful about it. Apart from that, even for other purposes, like storing videos, images, films, etc., SSD is a better solution

Should I store my samples on external drives?

Yes, storing your samples, instrument data, loops, etc., on external storage devices helps you organize your samples better, as you can also split your sample libraries on separate disks, and most importantly, they give you the convenience of having your data backed up securely. Creating clone drives of your samples or saving them on the cloud is also important.  

What are the best external drives for storing sample libraries and Kontakt data?

Samsung T7 Portable SSD, SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD, Samsung X5 portable SSD, Pluggable Thunderbolt 3 SSD, and LaCie rugged Mini are some of the best external drives for storing your samples and Kontakt libraries. You can read an in-depth breakdown of these drives and more devices here


As we have seen, when it comes to storing samples, you should look for a device that is reliable in the long term, suits your production & recording workflow, and is within your budget. Keeping all that in mind, we have provided all the information. 

To conclude, there are SSDs that you can find, which start from about $70 per 500 GB. Affordable SSDs may not have thunderbolt connectivity or the faster NVMe technology, and hence may not be faster than 800 MBPS of data reading/writing speed, but they are still reliable, heat less, create lesser noise, are more durable, and affordable.

For storage, the priority is durability & reliability, as compared to speed. However, if you have no budget constraints, you can go for SSDs with thunderbolt and NVMe features, and you can find drives with great storage capacities and speeds. So you can also efficiently run these storage devices with your sessions in real time. 

Alternatively, there are some decent HDDs as well, like WD My Cloud Home, that lets you store data on its cloud system as well, without charging any additional fee for it. Then, the LaCie Rugged Mini HDD is of great quality, trustworthy hard disk.

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