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How SSD vs. HDD Affect Video Editing, and Which one You Should Use

by Nathaniel Cooper, on Jul 23, 2019 5:59:47 PM

man thinking ssd hdd options

Time is money, the same goes for video editing. With the arrival of ultra-high definition 4K and 8K production workflows, editing now means working with extremely large file sizes - making storage the backbone of editing and presenting you with all kind of issues, from slow performance to reliability and mobility.

Do You Need a Solid-State Drive - SSD for Video Editing?

We need to understand the role of an SSD in a video editing lifecycle. To put it explicitly in a video editing environment the throughput depends on several factors, one of which is video files being read from and writing back the edited files on the storage disk – drive speed. SSDs access information instantaneously as they don’t have any moving parts – 4 times faster than an HDD, while HDD runs at moderately slow speeds with its mechanical moving parts limitation. Now let’s dive deeper.

Storage Problems

Video is rather a unique type of file when it comes to storage, as each frame contains a lot of information i.e. visuals, metadata, audio, timestamps, and much more. Video editing requires quick access, fast transfer speeds, along with large capacity. It also has to be reliable over time. However, unless you have a very high budget, you’ll only typically get capacity OR speed. For this, there are some solutions, we’ll review a few of them here.

Video Storage Solutions

Now which one is the best drive for video editing, an SSD or HDD? You can employ different video storage solutions to accommodate a diverse workflow and volume requirements: Internal, Portable (external), RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks), Server, LTO tapes, etc. depending on the following criterion: 

Budget

This is the starkest factor you’ll notice. In terms of dollar per gigabyte, the SSDs are pretty expensive when compared with HDDs.

Work Requirements/Speed

Speed is where one sees the real difference between an HDD and SSD. With SSD 4 times faster transfer rate and with NVMe SSD nearly 10 times the speed of the regular hard drive. The applications work blazing fast and workflow improves.

Capacity

In the video editing environment, storage space is everything. But what about the editing process itself where a traditional HDD will fail to prove itself with HD video loading, rendering, and saving? Overall, an HDD wins in the capacity race.

Solid State Drives are Faster

SSD speed is particularly the most important factor where they shine. With the advancing SSD technology and bottlenecks removed the difference is now starker. SSDs can locate, retrieve, or write back data swiftly. While on the other hand, the HDDs have to mechanically move the read/write head to locate and then access the data.

Modern HDDs are capable of hitting 150MB/s, whereas an SSD can go up to 550MB/s read and 520MB/s write speed. This is a glaring speed difference. SSDs store data on flash memory, with access speeds of 35-100 microseconds in comparison to an HDDs 5000-10000 microseconds, virtually 100 times faster. With this speed, the programs and data load more promptly, which is applicable in our case of large-sized video files to be accessed instantly for editing.

CPU Processor Speed does matter in order to realize the full SSD potential

Editing experts have found that the full potential of an SSD is only achieved when the overall system hardware, particularly the CPU (processor) can handle the whopping data transfer flows. Most video editing softwares like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro cache the upcoming frames or the whole video file in RAM for rapid access, which makes RAM important as well.

Solid State Drives Are Noiseless & Smaller

By nature, HDDs are rackety and bigger in size, as they have to spin the read/write head on the platter to retrieve or write data. The SSD, on the other hand, has no moving parts to make any sound. This becomes significant if you need a peaceful space to record audio, or for freelance videographers and vloggers, the portability matters a lot as they have to move around shooting and editing on the go.

Solid State Drives Are Safer

SSDs can withstand severe temperatures, can’t be erased by magnets, survive shocks and accidental drops & vibrations way better than HDDs. By design, flash memory can last longer times compared to an HDD whose lifespan is only 5-10 years. Mechanical moving platter and head make HDDs more likely to fail sooner.

Solid State Drives Are Energy Efficient

The SSDs use far less energy than a traditional hard drive because SSDs don’t have any moving mechanical parts. Fast data read/write speeds and no platter spinning even after the read or write makes them more power saving. And power utilization is a key aspect for the use of solid-state drive in portable computers. For video editors, it is more of a blessing to work more with less power consumption.

Solid State Drives Are Reliable

For portable devices, reliability is a crucial factor. The HDDs are fragile and sensitive to even low drops or shocks. While portable SSDs are mechanically better, though can wear out over time by extensive use, defined by P/E cycles (programmed and erased). As opposed to hard drive disk, SSDs have a software mechanism that can usually predict failure for you to prevent permanent data loss. Even if an SSD does fail you will be able to read data written on it and can be configured to store data in cache memory in case of unanticipated power loss.

Though Solid-State Drives Are More Expensive...

The SSDs are pricier than their HDD counterparts but the trends are now changing and SSDs are becoming more economical. For the reliability and durability of SSD, you have to pay more per gigabyte (1TB drive) while the per gigabyte of HDD is less (4TB model). It’s typically 4 times more money for the same size SSD compared to HDD, but worth it. SSDs are more robust, faster, and power efficient, HDDs are more affordable – especially when it comes to larger capacities.

Buying an SSD

Finding the right storage solution for your editing needs can be a rather difficult job. The ProMAX technology provides the right solution for every video editor whether a novice or a professional requiring high performance, scalability, compatibility and much more.

ProMAX MediaHub

This shared storage solution gives you all the things you’d need for your video editing environment. With the maximum performance of 1400MB/s read/write speed at 12-Bay, and 1200MB/s at 8-Bay. Easy scalability up to 2 internal SSD and 16TB of internal storage. Active storage is available up to 192TB plus 192TB of offline storage.

Sustained video performance at 900MB/s or simply put 12 streams of ProRes4K at the rate of 560MB/s. Network connectivity of 10GbE. With the software interface access to storage is much faster, the collaboration made easier, and with the platform offering the highest performance on the market it is the best solution for freelance or even expert editors.

Platform 16/24-Bay Server

The 16/24-Bay and server gives 6500/5500MB/s read/write speed on an SSD, 4400/3300MB/s read/write on HDD. Sustained video at 5000MB/s or plainly 70 streams of ProRes4K at the rate of 560MB/s.

The platform offers scalability up to 64 drive bays which translates into 768 Terabytes per server. The software performs automatic and easy backups of a single project or the entire system depending on your needs. The real time performance monitoring tool allows you to see how everything is working. Collaborations made even faster and easier for teams working together. The 16-Bay server and the 24-Bay server give you the freedom, ease, and power you need as a professional video editor.  

Solid State Drive Types

There are a number of connector interfaces used by SSDs such as SATA, PCIe, NVMe, M.2, mSATA, etc. We’ll discuss the two most prevalent here.

SATA SSD

The Serial ATA (SATA) connection interface used by SSDs to communicate with computers has been around for a while now. With the theoretical speed of 700MB/s and real-world speeds of around 550MB/s read/write, are the most prevalent storage drives nowadays.

NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) SSD

The NVMe is a communication standard developed specifically to allow SSDs (flash memory) to operate at speeds they are capable of – fastest SSDs. Operating directly through the PCIe interface and not the limited SATA interface. It gives 7x speed over SATA III i.e. at 3500MB/s with superior storage and compatibility.

The Verdict

So, what do you think? Consider having breakneck speed, reliability, noise, ruggedness and much more with multiple SSD drives. Or would you do the same as some editors do, having multiple HDD and SDD systems, one SDD for your operating system, one SSD for active projects you’re currently working on (can be internal or external SSD), and high capacity HDD for backup to archive your previous projects…

By and large, for professional video editors out there HDD is the thing of the past. If they want to compete in this constantly evolving and rigorously combative world, to ease up workflows SSD is the key to improving the working environment.

The End. 

Topics:HDDSDD

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