What drive is right for me?

Hard Drive, Fusion Drive or Solid State Drive

Thanks to a range of new technologies, computers today come with a variety of different devices for storing your data. The three main storage devices today are Hard Drives (commonly referred to as HDDs), Hybrid Drives (also referred to as Fusion Drives or SSHDs), and Solid State Drives (commonly called SSDs, sometimes referred to as Flash Storage). We offer computers with all of these technologies depending on what the system is designed to do. This guide can explain the differences between and advantages of each technology.

The Basics

All computer data is stored as 0s and 1s. Everything from your pictures and music to the operating system and programs are stored in this form. Every type of storage stores data in the same way. As storage is by far the slowest part of a computer, it can hold back the computer’s much faster Processor and RAM if it cannot get the data it needs fast enough. Computers can have more than one drive in them, meaning you can combine the benefits of multiple technologies to suit your needs.

Hard Drives

photo of a computer's hard drive. the top cover has been removed so that you can see the drive platters inside

The main advantage of a hard drive is that it’s cheap to store a large amount of data – a good 2TB hard drive usually goes for around £99, whereas a 2TB SSD from a large online retailer is £499 at the time this article was written. It is the most economical way to store a large amount of data. Hard Drives in desktops are also significantly faster than those in laptops, as their larger size allows them to spin faster.

Hard drives have several disadvantages, the main ones being performance and reliability. Given that they are moving parts, Hard Drives have a finite lifespan before they will fail. We usually consider 7 years to be a good ballpark figure of the age you can expect a hard drive to last, but this is influenced by many factors; a few will unfortunately fail sooner, whilst many will last considerably longer. You can find a good report on hard drive reliability from a large online storage company called Backblaze here. As they have to spin, hard drives are considerably slower than other technologies – whilst a computer with a Solid State Drive can boot Windows in around 10 seconds, that same computer with a Hard Drive can easily take 40-50 seconds.

Hard Drives also use more power than some other technologies (important for Laptops where every minute of battery life is important) and generate noise. They do have a couple of other advantages that may not be immediately obvious; should the worst happen to a hard drive it is much easier to recover the data from it than from a Solid State Drive. Hard drives are also available in capacities up to 6-8TB; SSDs will overtake that (Samsung just announced a 16TB one) but it may well be a while before large SSDs are anything resembling affordable.

Solid State Drives

photo of a solid state drive. The cover has been removed so that you can see that there are no platters, instead it is filled with memory chips

Solid State Drives use chips, not dissimilar to the RAM chips that are already in your computer, to store files. The main difference is that RAM loses your data when it is powered off, whereas SSD chips keep your data even when there is no power.

Solid State Drives use chips, not dissimilar to the RAM chips that are already in your computer, to store files. The main difference is that RAM loses your data when it is powered off, whereas SSD chips keep your data even when there is no power.

Given that they have no moving parts, SSDs are much faster and more reliable than their Hard Drive counterparts. SSDs are one of the best upgrades that can be made to a new or existing computer, as they make a system so much more responsive. Windows will load in around 10 seconds and your programs will snap open instantly. Solid State Drives also benefit from using less power, generating less heat, and being completely silent. Given that there is no moving parts, SSDs are also much more resistant to the knocks and movement that laptops typically experience than conventional hard drives are.

As stated previously, SSDs do cost more than Hard Drives. What can be done is that a system has a smaller SSD in it for Windows and Apps to be installed and a large secondary hard drive where your documents, pictures, and downloads are saved – giving you the best of both worlds.

Still unconvinced about an SSD? This video below by an independent YouTube channel shows the boot time of the same laptop with a Hard Drive and an SSD:

Hybrid Drives

Inside a Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) - it looks very similar to the inside of a conventional hard drive, but they also have a few memory chips like a Solid State Drive

SSHDs combine a conventional hard drive with 8GB of fast Flash Storage, that appears to the computer as just one hard drive. Clever algorithms determine the most important files and move them onto the SSD automatically to make your system work as fast as possible.

Hybrid Drives allow us to make systems, such as our Everyday Computing PC, even more responsive whilst keeping them affordable machines. Hybrid Drives are a good way of increasing performance the responsiveness of a system. Do bear in mind that as they use moving parts, they do not have any of the other advantages of an SSD such as low noise or increased reliability.

Where hybrid drives are not so good is with new data. When writing new data or accessing infrequently used bits, hybrid products perform just like a standard hard drive, and new hybrid drives have a "break-in period" while the software learns which data to cache. Due to the fact that hybrid products rely on caching software, they can also be somewhat more difficult to configure.

Tips to free up drive space on your PC

close up view of a hard disk drive with little plastic figures on it. They represent cleaners and they are sweeping and cleaning the hard drive
Give your hard drive a spring clean

If you get a message that your PC or laptop is running out of space, it can be a stressful event, especially if you are in the middle of something important. Over time, as we browse the web, get emails or backup photos from our phones, our computers fill up. For those who are not aware, the storage part inside your computer is called the hard drive or the solid state drive. We’ll call them both a “drive” for now. [Which drive is right for me – hard drive or solid state drive]

It is possible to upgrade that part of the computer so that you can fit more photos, or apps. But a lot of the time it’s not necessary to upgrade. Some of the files on your current drive can be deleted without any issues, and in some cases there may be temporary files on your drive which take up many gigabytes of space.

This guide will help you clean up some space on your computer’s drive. If after following this guide you still encounter issues with space, or if you would like to upgrade your drive to a Solid State Drive, just pop down to your nearest SimplyFixIt Repair Centre and we’ll fix that for you.

In order to get the most from this guide you should follow the instructions in the order that they appear.

Check the current space on your PC

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Use Disk Cleanup

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Uninstall applications that you no longer need

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Archive or Delete files that you no longer use

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10 Ways to open File Explorer in Windows 10

File Explorer is one of the most used apps from Windows 10. (not sure what version of Windows you have? Read our guide) Whether you need to copy or move files, or delete some, there’s always one thing you need to do first: open the File Explorer. So, we thought it would be a very good idea to write this guide, which contains all the ways in which you can open File Explorer in Windows 10. They involve every thing from search, to keyboard shortcuts, to using speech and so on. Let’s get started :

  1. Press Win + E on your keyboard

    The keyboard offers very fast shortcuts for launching all kinds of things, including File Explorer. Just press Win + E and watch File Explorer start immediately.

    Windows 10, File Explorer, open, start, file, location
  2. Use the File Explorer shortcut on the taskbar

    By default, Windows 10 includes a File Explorer shortcut on the taskbar. Its icon looks like a folder. Click or tap on it and File Explorer is opened.

    Windows 10, File Explorer, open, start, file, location
  3. Use Cortana’s search

    On Windows 10’s desktop, use the Cortana’s search box from the taskbar and, inside it, write the words “file explorer”. When the search results are loaded, press Enter or click / tap the File Explorer result. You can also talk to Cortana and say “Open File Explorer ” .

    Windows 10, File Explorer, open, start, file, location
  4. Use the File Explorer shortcut from the WinX menu

    The WinX menu can be accessed by pressing Win + X on your keyboard.
    This menu also includes a shortcut for File Explorer. Click or tap on it.

    Windows 10, File Explorer, open, start, file, location
  5. Use the File Explorer shortcut from the Start Menu

    Open the Start Menu. On its left section you will find a shortcut for File Explorer. Click or tap on it and File Explorer will launch.

    Windows 10, File Explorer, open, start, file, location
  6. Run explorer.exe

    The executable file for File Explorer is explorer.exe.
    You will find it in the Windows folder. Double click on it and File Explorer will be launched.

    Windows 10, File Explorer, open, start, file, location
  7. Create a shortcut and pin it to your desktop

    You can always create a shortcut to File Explorer and pin it to the desktop.

    Windows 10, File Explorer, open, start, file, location
  8. Use Command Prompt or Powershell

    If you’re used to working with Command Prompt or Powershell, you can simply write the command explorer and press Enter. This will immediately launch File Explorer.

    Windows 10, File Explorer, open, start, file, location
  9. Use Task Manager

    Another way of opening File Explorer is to use the Task Manager. You’ll have to open Task Manager , switch to More details , select the File menu and then click or tap on Run new task. Inside the "Create new task" window, write explorer and press Enter or OK.

    Windows 10, File Explorer, open, start, file, location
  10. Use the Run window

    The final method we know of for opening File Explorer is to use the good old Run window. Launch Run, enter the word explorer in it, and then click or tap on OK , or simply press Enter on your keyboard. File Explorer will launch instantly.

    Windows 10, File Explorer, open, start, file, location