USB/SSD vs. HDD Overwrites

How are USB / Solid State Drives different from standard hard drives in how data is overwritten?

            Solid-state drives (SSDs) are high-performance plug-and-play devices that feature no moving parts and offer faster speeds due to containing their own CPUs to manage data storage. SSDs are easy to install and can provide numerous benefits over a typical hard disk drive (HDD); however, they can be quite expensive. Another useful thing about SSDs is how quickly your operating system (OS) will boot and run if installed on it. Because of the high cost of these storage devices, it is common to see low numbers for their memory storage, such as standard 128GB SSDs. Due to the small amount of storage that a lot of SSD’s hold, it is essential to carefully figure out what exactly you want to run on your SSD and what you don’t. The durability of an SSD is also highly favored over a traditional HDD due to not having any moving parts that can break; this also makes SSD’s very quiet and widely used in laptops.

When it comes to overwriting data, solid-state drives utilize wear-leveling when writing on memory cells; this ensures even use. Data is transferred to unused memory cells to make sure that all cells have an equal number of reads/writes (Nelson, Phillips, Steuart, 2019). In an HDD, an OS can request that new data be written to the same spot that old data resides; however, in an SSD, the target area is required to be erased before it can be overwritten. In an HDD, the I/O controller informs the actuator arm where the data is located, then, the read/write head gathers the data and writes it to the correct track and sector. The time it takes for the platter to spin and the actuator arm to find the proper track/sector is known as latency.


Nelson, B., Phillips, A., & Steuart, C. (2019). Guide to Computer Forensics and Investigations. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Categories: Hardware

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