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HDD vs SSD? What’s best for photo editing?

Photo editing to many seems to be a simple and fun task but only the people who do it on an everyday basis know how frustrating and time-consuming it can get. 

And when you don’t have a powerful system to support those heavy software programs, things get even worse. That is why photo editing professionals are always curious about what computer or hardware specifications will meet their needs. 

One such burning question is- SSD vs HDD, What is better for photo editing. 

It is necessary to consider storage type when it comes to assessing system performance. A storage device needs to be fast and has a large capacity at the same time. 

The two most common types of storage drives available today are- HDD and SSD. Hard disk drives or HDD is the more traditional storage device that has rotating disks inside it. On the other hand, SDDs are solid and are hence called solid-state drives. 

SSDs are more modern and efficient when it comes to speed. SSD makes accessing data super fast. SSDs are ideal for running heavy programs and software, thanks to their ability to access data at a blazing speed. This is the only reason why people suggest running operating systems on SSD.

SSDs reduce system startup time significantly and hence come in handy when you are short on time. The only disadvantages with SSDs are their smaller storage capacities. If you work with a lot of files and photos, SSD storage capacity might not be enough for you. 

Coming to HDDs, they have a larger storage capacity but HDDs are not that fast. HDD relies on a rotating disk to access data which makes it slower and not the best option for running heavy programs and software. 

I am a regular Adobe Photoshop user. So, if you want to know whether you will see any improvement, you can tell me everything in detail.

In my Intel i3 laptop with a 1TB HDD, Adobe Photoshop takes around 40 seconds to open up. However, within my desktop having the same configurations but a 500 GB SSD, Photoshop boots up within 20 seconds.

That’s a huge difference. And, I have tested the same thing with much other software in this field. Whether you use Krita, GIMP, Paintshop Pro, Polarr, or Adobe Illustrator, you will see a huge difference in operation.

Along with the fast bootup, SSD will help you speedily save or open your desired photos inside any software.

Whenever you open any software, it demands certain files from the system. Now, when you try to open heavy software like Photoshop or Illustrator, it will need access to multiple files. Now, when it comes to the random storage speed, HDDs are very slow. HDD will firstly rotate the disk and then the read/write head will try to find that information.

But, the case is totally different with the SSDs. Because these storage devices work with the help of Flash memory chips, the data can be accessed at a very high rate. Also, the storage speed will increase.

So, either you want to open your software, open any photo, or save your edited photo in your system, you can see more than a 200% increase in performance.

Most of the time, you will have enough RAM to use any popular photo editing software. For example, if you want to use Adobe Photoshop, the minimum RAM requirement is just 4GB.

So, if you have 4 or more than 4GB of RAM, and still you find huge lags while opening your app, this is happening just because of your storage type.

If you are using an HDD and it’s full of data, its speed can decrease a lot. In this case, it will be very helpful to upgrade your storage drive to SSD.

Alternatively, you can keep your HDD and add external storage just to install and run your photo editing software.

If photo editing is your primary requirement, I would suggest using an external SSD and run your software from there. You will see a huge boot speed and everything else.

If you can afford it, buy an SSD with a minimum of 500 GB storage space. Now, try to store your photos inside this drive and you will be able to experience great copy, move, paste, and transfer speed. Know more about RAM+SSD upgrades here.

As I discussed earlier, I am editing photos professionally for a long time. I have used most of the popular photo editing software in the market. I occasionally run various 2d and 3d animation software as well.

In my point of view, using an SSD is pretty helpful if you are a frequent user of any photo editing software. It will not only increase the opening speed of these programs but also help you with various other things.

Let me tell you one of my experiences.

I use image retouching and background removal tools a lot inside Photoshop. So, whenever I apply a new effect or try to remove pixels from a large image, my system lags (Intel i3 with 4GB RAM). The software takes some seconds to process the image properly.

But, this problem just disappears when I upgraded my storage to SSD. It actually helps the RAM and CPU to do their jobs properly because the information they are looking for will be there within milliseconds.

So, you will hear lots of people saying that there is no need to upgrade your storage to SSD if you want optimal performance. Just upgrade RAM and CPU and that’s it. Well, it’s right but wrong at the same time.

If your CPU doesn’t have the data in hand, it will never be able to process anything for you. So, if you are looking to go for an SSD upgrade, just do it now. You will see good results for sure.

If you are a photo editing professional and you are looking for the best storage option, then the answer would be a blend of both SSD and HDD. 

You should be using SSD for running your software like photoshop and lightroom and also for running your OS. But when it comes to storage, you might want to have an HDD that allows you to store more files. 

Fortunately, in most computer systems available today, you can use both HDD and SSD together. Such computers might cost a little extra but that extra investment will be with it. After all, time is money. 

ImageModelFeatures and SpecsPrice
Samsung 870 Evo
Capacity: 250GB – 4TB
Interface: SATA
Speed: 550/510 MB/s
Endurance: 2,400 TBW
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Kingston A2000Capacity: 250GB – 1TB
Interface: PCIe (M.2 NVMe)
Speed: 2200/2000 MB/s
Endurance: 720 TBW
Check Price
Best SSDs for Photo Editing in 2021

Thanks for reading and hope it helps.