Sorry for the pun, but I couldn't resist. Is there an easy to speak and explain acronym or word for non-solid state drives? Or what, if any, is the antonym of solid-state?

Addendum: After reading the wikipedia article on HDDs linked to by @FumbleFingers I think that it is the proper mechanical analogue for SSD. The essence of my question now is there a single word antonym for solid-state?

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    Sorry I misread your usage. Comment deleted. You've got me really lost with vacuum tubes though - were they ever used for data storage? I can remember paper tape and punched cards holding data, and I know valves with vacuum tubes were used long before silicon transistors, for processing. But did they ever meaningfully hold data? The generic term for all of them today is just mass-storage device. – FumbleFingers Jun 27 '12 at 3:33
  • Perfectly understandable, I too have deleted my overly snarky comment. As far as I know valves were never used for data storage per se, however in my experience solid-state originated as a term that is in opposition to vacuum tube technology. A transistor is the solid-state replacement of the vacuum tube. So, I guess what I'm asking is there a term in the vernacular of electronics that is an antonym for solid-state. – d34dh0r53 Jun 27 '12 at 3:50

The ones with moving parts are mechanical drives, or more commonly HDDs (hard disk drives).

I note from OP's comment that he thinks SSDs are a subtype of HDD. I don't agree with that - but then again I'm not all that keen on Solid-State Drive in the first place. So far as I'm concerned, they aren't "drives" at all - they're just high-capacity memory chips with traditional disc drive data interface protocols.

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  • Interestingly Seagate list "Solid State Drives" under "Internal Hard Drives", alongside "Laptop Hard Drives" and "Desktop Hard Drives", and don't seem to use "disk" at all. – Hugo Jun 27 '12 at 9:03
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    Oh, and I'd ditch the apostrophes in SSD's and HDD's. – Hugo Jun 27 '12 at 9:26
  • I had a boss once who had previously worked for a disc manufacturer, and he habitually referred to any bit of equipment that we might be working on as a drive. – Colin Fine Jun 27 '12 at 10:38
  • If you want to be derogatory compared to modern SSD, the term "spinning rust" is common (the magnetic material is an iron oxide) – mgb Jun 28 '12 at 3:49
  • Mechanical drive is common if you want to emphasise the moving nature - ie. "SSDs can tolerate higher level of vibration than mechanical drives" – mgb Jun 28 '12 at 3:51

I use HDD (Hard Disk Drive) when referring to non solid state drives.

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  • That's not bad, but I view the term HDD more as referring to the whole category of internal storage devices for PCs, rather than a specific technology. – d34dh0r53 Jun 27 '12 at 3:00
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    @d34dh0r53 - Well, since it stands for "Hard Disk Drive", which is in fact a particular technology, I'd say your view of the term in that case may be slightly in error. – T.E.D. Jun 27 '12 at 17:15

I would say magnetic disk is a fair analog of solid-state with regard to drives.

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HDD is the commonly-accepted label for non-SSD drives.

Speaking as a techie, the only true one-word antonym I've come across for SSD is "platters", referring to the spinning platters in HDDs

Other terms I've come across:

  • Mechanical Hard Drive
  • Spinning Drive
  • Traditional Storage
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Common usage among SysAdmins is that HDD refers to drives with spinning platters and not to SSDs. This search on ServerFault is neither exhaustive nor conclusive, but you can see in the questions and snippets of answers that SSD is not treated as a specific type of HDD.

WRT your addendum, I don't think it makes sense to speak of an "opposite" to solid state drives. Currently, there are only a few types of "storage drives:"

  1. hard drives (with spinning platters)
  2. optical drives
  3. thumb drives (basically memory sticks and memory cards)
  4. RAM drives (computer memory accessed as if it were a hard drive)
  5. solid state drives, similar in concept to thumb drives, i.e. flash memory packaged to appear to the computer as if it were a spinning hard drive

3, 4, and 5 are all "solid state" in the sense of using chips as the storage medium, but they're very different technologies, and then 1 and 2 are very different from those and quite different from each other.

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