Difference between Hard drives and Flash drives

Hard drives and flash drives are the two major types of storage devices used in computer systems for permanent data storage. The most basic difference between these two storage devices is that a hard drive is an electromechanical storage device having some movable parts, whereas a flash drive is an electronic storage device made of integrated circuits.

Read this article to learn more about hard drives and flash drives and how they are different from each other.

What is a Hard Drive?

A hard drive is an electromechanical storage device used in computer to store data and information permanently. It is also known as hard disk drive (HDD) or hard disk or fixed disk. Hard drives use magnetic storage media to store digital data.

A hard drive typically consists of a group of disk platters made of non-magnetic material like aluminium alloy. These disk platters are coated with a layer of a magnetic material to form the storage media on the disk. Disks are mounted on a spindle. A magnetic reader arm is provided to read data from and write data to the disks.

In hard drives, data can accessed in a random manner which means individual data can be accessed in any order. Hard drives are the type of non-volatile storage devices used in computer to store data even when computer is turned off.

What is a Flash Drive?

A flash drive is a type of memory device used in computers for permanent data storage. Flash drive is a type of semiconductor memory. It is also known as USB (Universal Serial Bus) drive.

Flash drives are commonly used as for data storage, file transfer, data backup, etc. Flash drives are usually the type of plug and play portable memory devices. These days, flash drives are being widely used as external storage devices in computers and other computing devices in place of hard drives. Flash drives are more reliable and efficient storage devices as compared to other types of memory devices.

Difference between Hard Drives and Flash Drives

The following table highlights all the significant differences between hard drives and flash drives −


Hard Drives

Flash Drives


Hard drive is a type of electromechanical storage device.

Flash drive is a type of semiconductor storage device.

Also known as

Hard drive is also known as hard disk drive (HDD), or hard disk, or fixed disk.

Flash drive is also known as USB drive.

Data storage

Hard drive stores data in spinning disks with the help of a read/write head.

Flash drive stores data in cells of a semiconductor memory chip.

Storage capacity

Hard drives come in relatively high storage capacity.

Flash drives have smaller memory capacity than hard drives.


For same storage capacity, hard drives are less expensive.

Flash drives are more expensive than hard drives.

Power consumption

Hard drives consume more power.

Flash drives consume comparatively less power.

Physical size & weight

Hard drives are larger in size and heavier in weight.

Flash drives are smaller in size and light in weight.


Hard drives are consider non- portable storage drives.

Flash drives are very small and lightweight devices. Hence, they are portable.


Hard drives are less secure to malicious programs like virus.

Flash drives offer enhanced security measures like data encryption, etc.

Sensitive to Physical Damages

Hard drives are more sensitive to physical damages as they can be damaged more easily.

Flash drives are more durable as they can withstand more drops and bumps that hard drives.


Hard drives have moving parts, hence produce noise while operating.

Flash drives do not produce noise while operating due to absence of moving parts.


Hard drives are slower.

Flash drives are faster as compared to hard drives.

Need of power source

Hard drive requires a power source to trigger its drive circuit.

Flash drives does not require additional power source.


Hard drives have shorter life span.

Flash drives have longer life span.


Hard drives are best suited for large volume data storage in computers.

Flash drives are used for both data storage and data transfer from one computer to another.


Both hard drives and flash drives are used to increase the memory capacity of a computer system. They both are great device for data storage. You can study the comparison between hard drives and flash drives given in the above table to decide which one best suits your need.

Updated on: 04-Apr-2023

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