Last updated: September 2017
Hard drives are an important part of the history of computers. They are what allowed us to move from having to store things on floppies.
However, as operating systems have become more and more complex, hard drives have become bigger and bigger issues in terms of speed. They've also always been very brittle, though they have improved some.
The solution to this is solid state drives. They're like RAM, but they store data long-term and are slower than RAM is, though still extremely fast compared to hard drives.
Have you ever had to back up several hundred gigabytes of data on a hard drive? My...gosh...it's painful. On an SSD, you could do an entire disk image of it for laughs, and it'll be so fast, it'll bottleneck at your Ethernet or USB connection!
Additionally, with Windows 10 out, they're so unfit for running an operating system. Sure, Windows 7 is fine, but Windows 10 hates hard drives and you should, too. I really blame Windows 10 for this, but M$ isn't going to fix that, so...buy an SSD.
Accidents happen. Hard drive accidents also happen. Unfortunately, hard drives are very unforgiving as far as that goes. They easily break or die completely if you do something like accidentally putting pressure on top of it on your laptop's palmrest area, or dropping the drive (or entire laptop). Hard drives are brittle as ever, especially laptop-sized ones, and should have been retired long ago, at the very least in laptops. In desktops and especially servers, HDDs make more sense, but you should still have at least one SSD in even a desktop, for OS purposes.
Yes, I know this article was short, but SSDs need to take over the world. They really do. Forget hard drives, except for desktops and servers with large storage demands. In laptops, hard drives shouldn't even exist anymore, because laptops shouldn't be required to store as much as a hard drive can provide. Instead, laptops should be used only with solid state drives.