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Data Doctors

Updated Jun 11, 2012 - 8:30 pm

Hybrid hard drives

I have a couple of VelociRaptor hard drives and have
had nothing but problems with them. I am wondering would
the Seagate Hybrid drives be a better alternative?

– D

For those looking to improve the performance of their
sluggish computer, upgrading to a faster hard drive can
make a world of difference.

The hard drive is the biggest bottleneck in your computer,
especially if you use large programs, work with video,
like to play elaborate games or anything that requires the
hard drive to work hard.

The VelociRaptor drives spin at 10,000 RPM vs most
standard drives that spin at 7,200 RPM or older drives
spun at 5,400 RPM. The faster the platter spins, the
quicker the read/write heads can access the magnetic

The downside to faster spinning hard drives is that they
tend to run hotter and when they mechanically fail, it can
be catastrophic.

The fastest performing hard drives on the market are SSDs
(Solid State Drives) that have no moving parts and are
essentially like a flash drive on steroids. The problem
with this technology is that it is extremely expensive on
a per MB basis.

It can be 8-10 times the price per megabyte, so it’s not
very cost effective, especially if you want a large hard

About five years ago, a new option that combined the low
per megabyte of the traditional spinning hard drive with
the high-performance of the SSD was introduced, primarily
for notebook computers.

These ‘hybrid’ drives have a small SSD drive that can
store your most commonly used data for fast access and
dramatically speeds up the boot time because it doesn’t
have to access data from the slow performing spinning

The general claim by the manufacturers is that boot times
can be 40% faster than a standard 7,200 RPM non-hybrid

When compared to the performance of a pure (and expensive)
SSD drive in real world situations, the performance is
amazingly close because of the sophistication built into
the drives data storage algorithm.

The drive monitors the programs and data that you most
frequently use and stores them on the faster SSD portion
to improve the performance. It continues to monitor your
behavior, so when your primary usage changes so does what
gets stored on the faster portion of the drive.

The older your existing hard drive is, the more of a
difference you will experience (especially if it’s a 5,400
RPM drive).

A video that shows a comparison of a standard 7,200 RPM
magnetic drive, a 10,000 RPM magnetic drive, the hybrid
drive and an SSD all running the same series of programs
is posted at:

The best part of this technology is that it’s only
marginally more expensive than a standard hard drive and
less expensive than high-performance 10,000 RPM drives.

Even though they were designed to be installed in laptop
computers, you can install them in desktop computers with
an inexpensive adapter as well (I converted my office
desktop computer last year in this manner).

In my opinion, a hybrid drive is one of the best-bang-for-
the-buck upgrades anyone can make to a computer. They are
currently available in 500 & 750 GB storage
configurations, which should suffice for most average


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