18 Differences Between eMMC and HDD

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If you are given two storage options to choose from, such as a Hard Disk Drive and an embedded MultiMediaCard, you will first have to make an accurate comparison between them. This will help you to know which will be better in meeting your storage needs more efficiently and comprehensively.

However, without knowing the major differences between an eMMC and a HDD, this will not be easy. If you are not aware of the differences, read this article to get all the help you need.


  • An eMMC drive does not have any mechanical part inside it and stores the data and information in the flash memory. The Hard Disk Drive stores data on the magnetic disc.
  • An eMMC comes with flash memory cells and a controller along with Integrated Circuits in a Ball Grid Array package while an HDD has moving magnetic platters or discs and a read/write head on an actuator arm.
  • The storage capacity of the eMMCs is much lower where the highest can be of 256 GB as a rarity in comparison to the HDDs which can come with storage spaces in multiples of terabytes.
  • Due to the absence of moving parts in them the eMMCs are less vulnerable to damages and also operate much faster in comparison to the HDDs.
  • Power consumption of the eMMCs is about 2 watts maximum as opposed to 6 or 7 watts of the HDDs, which is mainly due to the moving parts inside them.

The 18 Differences Between eMMC and HDD

Differences Between eMMC and HDD

1. Full Form

Starting with the full form of the acronyms, eMMC is the short for Embedded MultiMediaCard.

On the other hand, HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive. However, these drives are also commonly referred to as hard drives, hard disks, or fixed disks.

2. Design and Technology

An eMMC drive is typically designed with no moving mechanical parts in it. These storage devices usually come with Integrated Circuits or ICs and flash memory with a controller in a small BGA or Ball Grid Array.

This design allows it to be used in circuit boards as an implanted non-volatile memory system.

On the other hand, the HDDs typically are designed based on spinning magnetic platters or discs to store digital information and reading heads to retrieve them.

3. Functions

The eMMC drives are flash storage that typically functions as a temporary storage solution for a portable device mainly.

On the other hand, the HDDs function as a magnetic storage in a random access way and are typically used as a permanent storage medium of larger files for a longer period of time.

4. Capacity

The storage capacity of an eMMC drive is usually much smaller in comparison to an HDD and includes 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB.

However, in rare cases these drives can have a storage capacity up to 128 GB and 256 GB.

On the other hand, the storage capacity of the HDDs is usually higher and can go anywhere up to 320 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, and more.

There are a few specific models that may come with a storage capacity even as high as up to 6 TB or 10 TB as well for use in the high end desktops.

5. Capabilities

The eMMC drives are usually not capable of storing larger files. This is mainly due to their short storage capacity.

On the other hand, the HDDs typically come with large storage space to store larger files in them.

6. Chances of Damage

Since the eMMCs do not have any moving parts inside them, they are less vulnerable to damages due to drops, shocks, and bumps.

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On the other hand, the HDDs are prone to frequent failure and damages due to the faster wear and tear of the spinning magnetic discs or the moving parts inside it.

7. Speed

The eMMCs are basically much faster in comparison to the HDDs due to their design but the speed may vary depending on the models of them and the specific situations the drives experience.

Typically, the maximum speed of an eMMC to transfer data can range anywhere up to about 400 MB/s and 600 MB/s.

On the other hand, the HDDs usually have a much lower speed in comparison to the eMMCs.

The maximum data transfer speed of an HDD can be up to about 150 MB/s.

8. Performance

The eMMC drives typically perform much better in comparison to the HDDs. In fact, their performance levels lie between a Hard Disk Drive and a Solid State Drive.

On the other hand, the HDDs are considered to be the slowest among all different types of storage solutions.

They usually take a long time to boot up the system, in loading files and applications, and in executing the files copy and paste command.

9. Application

The eMMC drives typically have a much wider application as compared to the HDDs.

These can be used in personal computers, digital cameras, smartphones, and smart home devices as well as in other consumer electronics devices such as on the motherboards of tablets, notebooks, and in a few budget-class 2-in-1 computers.

On the other hand, as for the HDDs, they are typically used as traditional storage solutions in personal computers and some inexpensive notebooks and tablets.

10. Power Consumption

The eMMC drives usually consume a lot less power while in operation, often ranging between 0.5 watts and up to 2 watts, which makes them perfect to use in the laptop computers to preserve the battery life.

On the other hand, the HDDs consume more power than the eMMC drives, often up to 6 to 7 watts, due to their moving parts inside.

11. Price Factor

If you consider the prices of both these different storage options based on the dollars per gigabyte, the eMMC drives will typically turn out to be much costlier in comparison to the Hard Disk Drives.

On the other hand, the price of the HDDs is comparatively low. This is quite understandable because they have a much lower speed and performance level with respect to the eMMC drives.

12. Boot Time of Operating Systems

The eMMC drives usually take about 10 seconds to 13 seconds on an average to boot up the operating system of a computer.

On the other hand, the HDDs usually take about 30 to 40 seconds on an average to boot up the operating system of the computer.

13. Vibration and Noise

Since there are no moving parts inside the eMMC drives, there is no noise emitted or vibration when it operates.

On the other hand, the HDDs emit noise and vibrate while operating due to the spinning discs inside them.

14. Heat Generated

The eMMC drives do not produce much heat during operation due to their lower power consumption and absence of moving parts.

On the other hand, the HDDs produce a measurable amount of heat during operation due to the moving parts and higher power draw in comparison to the eMMC drives.

15. Magnetism Effects

There is no magnetic tape inside the eMMC drives and therefore the data stored in them is not affected due to magnetism.

On the other hand, the data stored in the HDDs can get corrupted because the tape or disc on which the data is stored comes with a magnetic coating.

16. Reparability

The eMMC drives are not easy to repair due to the complex design.

However, in comparison, the HDDs are very easy to repair which is why these are considered to be super recyclable.

17. Service Life

Though the eMMC drives are less vulnerable to damages, the lifespan or service life of these drives are pretty short, often lasting up to 5 years on an average.

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On the other hand, the service life of a typical HDD is much more than that. In fact, it is usually double the lifespan of an eMMC, which, as said above, is up to 5 years.

18. Recyclability

Due to the fact that the eMMC drives have a shorter lifespan, these are hardly reused on other devices.

Typically, no one replaces an eMMC drive with a secondhand drive.

The HDDs, on the other hand, are often reused while upgrading a budget laptop.

Which is Better – eMMC or HDD?

In simple words, the answer to this question would depend on your needs and preferences.

A Hard Disk Drive can be better and more useful for you if you are looking for higher storage capacity at a low cost but are okay with slow speed, lower performance, more power consumption, more heat and vulnerability to damages.

If you play games often on your computer, a HDD will be a better choice since it can store the large game files.

On the other hand, eMMC drives will be a much better choice for you if you are looking for faster speed in copying files and transferring data, faster booting of the system and quicker execution of commands.

And, for everyday computing needs where you deal with smaller files, an eMMC will be best to store such smaller files.

Therefore, which one among the eMMC drive and a Hard disk drive to select will depend on your demand and computing needs.

Well, after reading the differences between the two above, you already have a fair idea about which one to choose for your computer to store files.

However, storage will play an important role in the performance of your computer finally.

Therefore, to make sure that you do not make any error in choosing a storage medium for your device, here are a few other important factors that may influence your eventual choice between an eMMC drive and a HDD.

First, an eMMC is a flash storage but a HDD is essentially a non-flash storage.

This means that the flash memory with a controller in the eMMC drive reduces the workload of the Central Processing Unit or CPU while addressing different tasks itself.

This will make your computer to eventually run much faster which explains why files and data can be copied or transferred faster in a system with an eMMC and not a Hard disk Drive.

Talking about speed, that of the HDDs usually depends on the rotational speed of the moving platters in them.

Usually, in most of the standard Hard Disk drives these platters can complete about 5400 rounds in a minute.

However, there are few specific types of HDDs with a platter speed of 7200 rpm.

These are faster than the former types and are typically used in high-end notebooks due to much improved reading, writing and data accessing speeds.

Nevertheless, these types of HDDs are rare and, most importantly, their higher speeds do not have any obvious improvements in their performances.

Here is a brief comparison of the maximum data transfer speeds and write speeds of the eMMC drives for varying models:

  • The 4.5 version eMMC drives come with a maximum data transfer speed of up to 200 MB/s and a maximum write speed of up to about 60 MB/s
  • The 5.0 version eMMC drives come with a maximum data transfer speed of up to 400 MB/s and a maximum write speed of up to about 90 MB/s and
  • The 5.1 version eMMC drives come with a maximum data transfer speed of equal to and more than 600 MB/s and a maximum write speed of up to about 125 MB/s.

On the other hand, here are the maximum data transfer speeds of different versions of HDDs:

  • The ATA 5 version HDDs usually come with a maximum data transfer speed of up to 66 MB/s
  • The ATA 6 version HDDs usually come with a maximum data transfer speed of up to 100 MB/s
  • The ATA 7 Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment or PATA version HDDs usually come with a maximum data transfer speed of up to 133 MB/s
  • The ATA 7 Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or SATA version HDDs usually come with a maximum data transfer speed of up to 150 MB/s
  • The ATA 8 PATA version HDDs usually come with a maximum data transfer speed of up to 133 MB/s and
  • The ATA 8 SATA version HDDs usually come with a maximum data transfer speed of up to 600 MB/s.
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So, choose one according to your files and your file transfer needs.

There is a significant downside of the HDDs in spite of their large storage capacities.

It is the fact that their performance is largely affected because the drives typically come with a fixed upper limit in terms of the data that can be written on the discs. It ranges between 8 TB and 10 TB.

However, in spite of the demerits of the HDDs, they also come with some significant strong points.

As said earlier, they are cheapest among all types of storage solutions and offer a much larger storage space.

Therefore, it is good to use a HDD in a computer that is used primarily to handle huge amounts of data.

On the other hand, for performing basic functions such as surfing the web, sending emails, watching movies, and doing minor tasks on Word, going for an eMMC drive will prove to be a more prudent decision.

However, if you tend to choose an eMMC drive, do keep in mind that the latest versions of these drives, that is the 5.0 and 5.1 eMMC drives, have much lower service life.

For example, the ones that use TLC or Triple Layer Cell NAND flash memory come with perhaps the lowest lifespan than all other types of storage solutions.

Therefore, be ready to buy another one soon if you choose to use a TLC simply due to the fact that it comes with a larger data storage capacity as compared to the SLC or the Single Layer Cell and MLC or the Multi-Layer Cell eMMC drives.

Moreover, if you use an eMMC drive very frequently, it will reduce its service life even more as compared to those drives that are not used very frequently.

In addition to that, if your system chip comes with an embedded MMC with a large storage capacity, it will also have a very short lifespan as compared to those drives that have a much smaller storage capacity.

And finally, the Embedded MMC drives usually come with a PE cycle or Program Erasure cycle in excess of 1000.

This will account for a much higher disintegration rate for the NAND flash memory cells whenever you delete a file from the drive.

This will also contribute to the shortening of its service life.

Therefore, in all possibilities, an eMMC drive will not last longer than 3 to 5 years, which is much shorter than any standard HDD, which is 10 years on an average.

But then, the durability of the HDD will also depend on several external and internal factors such as:

  • The brand and model
  • The storage capacity and
  • Handling.

Mechanical impacts due to accidental knocks and drops or electrical short circuiting will also affect the service life of the Hard Disk Drives.

Now, with all these facts, factors, and differences between an Embedded MMC drive and a Hard Disk Drive known to you, the final choice is up to you.


Therefore, to wrap up, this article has introduced you to two storage solutions that come with different features and functionalities.

Now that you are aware about the major differences between the two, you will not mix up an eMMC and a HDD anymore while making a choice.

About Dominic Cooper

Dominic CooperDominic Cooper, a TTU graduate is a computer hardware expert. His only passion is to find out the nitty gritty of all computers. He loves to cook when he is not busy with writing, computer testing and research. He is not very fond of social media. Follow Him at Linkedin