Do It Yourself: Combine SSD With HDD In Hybrid Mode

Solid-state Drives (SSD) feature a great storage solution in terms of speed and reliability, but their main disadvantage is the low capacities with which they come that the largest of them has not exceeded the limit of 1TB yet for the consumer-grade market. This is the main disadvantages in this type of storage devices as far as operativity is concerned, otherwise their relatively steep price is their major drawback. A solid-state drive might cost about $0.58 per GB, while a mechanical drive might cost $0.06 per GB. A mainstream solid-state drive at a reasonable price might offer 256 GB of storage at most, while a mechanical drive might offer 2 or 3 TB of storage. Mechanical drives may be slow, but they offer a very large storage capacity at a very low price per gigabyte.

To get the advantages of both, many power users and PC gamers use both a solid-state drive and mechanical drive in their systems. The solid-state drive is used for system files, programs, application data, and anything else that really benefits from the speed. The larger mechanical drive can be used for long-term storage of files that don’t need to be accessed as quickly — a media or photo collection, for example. This requires installing both drives in the computer and choosing which files and programs to place on each drive. If you want to move a file to a different drive, you’ll have to move it yourself. If you want to move a program to a different drive, you may have to uninstall it and reinstall it at a different location.

But what if this operation is done automatically? Would not it be a big time and effort saving? This is what we are going to teach you to do in this article.

In a hybrid mode you’re not in charge of deciding which files go on the mechanical drive and which files go on the solid-state drive. Instead, the hardware accessory we are going to use will take care of what is and isn’t on the solid-state drive. That way you can get almost 80% of SSD performance (as the manufacturer claims) and the full advantage of the hard drive capacity. This represents a great compromise between performance, price and capacity, and it should be the most preferable solution to every limited-budget users.

What Hybrid Options Do You Have

There are two hybrid options you have, the first is called “Solid-State Hybrid Drive (short SSHD)”, which combines both an SSD and an HDD in a single drive form [You can read more about it here]. This is a good option for limited-budget users who cannot afford buying an SSD with an HDD. As for the second option, it is what you’re going to learn in this article.

Just know that a single solid-state drive — or a solid-state drive plus a mechanical hard drive in a desktop PC, if you have room for both — will outperform an SSHD. Everything on a solid-state drive will be as fast as the small cache portion of an SSHD. By installing your operating system and programs to a solid-state drive, you can ensure those files benefit from the fastest access times possible.

What Will You Need

All what you need in order to build a hybrid storage solution is one hardware add-on card and a special data cable. Surely this comes after you obtain a good solid state drive and a large hard drive.

We recommend the following two products for this purpose: PCI Express 2.0 SATA Controller Card

The PEXSAT34SFF PCI Express 2.0 SATA Controller Card enables 4 AHCI SATA III connections to be added to a computer through a single internal Mini-SAS (SFF-8087) port. The Mini-SAS connector with Port Multiplier support allows for multiple SATA drives (up to 7) to be connected using a single cable. When used with a Mini-SAS to 4x SATA breakout cable [such as HighPoint Internal Mini-SAS to 4SATA or Monoprice Internal Mini SAS Breakout Cable] you have a complete internal 6Gbps connectivity solution, all from a single card.

Featuring HyperDuo technology, the SATA card offers SSD auto-tiering which lets you balance the performance advantages of SSD storage with the cost-effectiveness and large capacity of standard hard drives. By combining SSD and HDD drives into a single volume (up to 3 SSD + 1 HDD), HyperDuo discreetly works in the background to identify and move frequently accessed files to the faster SSD drive(s) for improved data throughput – up to 80% of SSD performance! (Note: The HyperDuo automatic storage tiering feature is compatible with Windows® XP, Vista, 7 and 8 only).

Compliant with SATA revision 3.0, this PCI Express SATA RAID card delivers up to 6Gbps of data bandwidth; ideal for high performance hard drives and solid state drives (SSD). Plus, the controller card offers an effective hardware RAID solution, with native RAID (0, 1, 1+0) support.

HighPoint Internal Mini-SAS to 4SATA

HighPoint’s INT-MS-1M4S cable utilizes industry standard SFF-8087 Mini-SAS and SATA connectors, and is used to connect Rocket and RocketRAID Series host controllers to storage devices, or to a storage chassis backplane. Each cable directly supports up to four hard drives or SSD’s.

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2 comments… add one
  • JD May 26, 2015, 6:12 pm

    Thank you for your articles, very reader freindly and easy enough for the novice to read and understand. Currently in the market to purchase a new laptop, needed to know what all the marketing was about before a purchase was made. my goal is to make equipment training videos for a business and needed to upgrade my current PC to something that can handle the speed and storage. Your article on the HDD, SSD, and hybrid were very good and explaining the differences and benifits and shortfalls was exactly what I was looking for. So I am seeing hard drive systems with NAND flash technology and I am suspecting this is a hybrid form of the SSD and HDD.Can you explain what this is and what are the drawbacks. I read a article that said the NAND has a limited amount of rewrites which could mean the memory has a limited lifespan?? Again great articles and will gladly share.

    • David Tipakov May 26, 2015, 7:39 pm

      Hi JD and welcome to my website.

      Hybrid mode, as has been explained, is to combine both SSD and HDD together into one system to operate together as a single drive managed by a software application. It’s somewhat similar to RAID.

      The major disadvantage of this type of systems is that it doesn’t offer the same high access speed to all your files in the very first time of use. You have to “teach” the managing software that a particular file is drawing your interest by accessing it at least once so it will move it to your SSD from HDD in order to provide a much faster access speed to that particular file next time you request it.

      The primary advantage of this combination is it allows unlimited expansion of storage space (based on HDD).

      But honestly speaking, if a 512GB or 1TB solid-state drive (SSD) is within your budget and you feel this specific capacity of SSD is sufficient for your work, I strongly advise you to get one and neglect the hybrid system.

      As for SSDs having limited writes, that was the case with early SSDs (produced before 3 years of now). This problem has been resolved with modern SSDs and that’s why you no longer hear anyone speaks about it.

      Anandtech has made a robust test on some SSDs to prove this assumption and they proved it right. Please check for example:

      Hope I have well answered your questions.



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