SMR and CMR hard drives: What is the difference? Which one is better?

SMR and CMR hard drives: What is the difference? Which one is better?

Since the delivery of the first hard drives via a courier, fundamentals in mechanical drive technology have not changed forklift . . The modern day hard drives offer a world of innovation and refinement that is light years ahead compared to early ones, in particular with regard to miniaturization.

SMR drives and CMR (conventional magnet recording) are two ways to pack those tiny bits of data in an HDD enclosure. Understanding how each method works will help you choose the drive that suits your requirements best.

Cmr vs. smr hard drives: what’s different and which is better?

What are the basics of mechanical hard drives?

The mechanical hard disk drive is a storage device that uses spinning platters coated with magnetic material. To access the and modify the data on these hard drives, read heads and writes are tiny electromechanical arms that hang above the platters.

The basics of mechanical hard drives

The read/write head magnetically attaches small regions to the platters when data is being written to an mechanical hard drive. These magnetized areas can still be used later to retrieve data, even if the hard drives is not powered on. The platters spin when the hard drive turns on. Once the platters are spinning, the write/read head will move to the right place on the platters in order to retrieve the data.


There are two kinds of mechanical hard drives available: CMR hard disk drives and SMR.

CMR technology makes use of separate tracks to save data on the magnetic platter. Every track on the platter is concentric and can be reached independently by the drive’s write/read head. As the head can jump quickly between tracks in order to retrieve different data, this allows for high read and write speeds.

Cmr vs. smr

SMR hard drives are magnetic platters that overlap with the tracks to enable high-capacity storage. The overlap, also known as “shingling”, is a technique that mimics the way roof tiles are laid.

In order to write data to an SMR storage media drive, the head first needs to erase all data on the track that overlaps. Writing to an SMR storage media drive can take longer than writing to CMR. Additionally, to be able to retrieve data, the head must travel sequentially along the tracks.

CMR hard drives have both advantages and disadvantages

Both hard drives have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s first look at the advantages and disadvantages of CMR drives:

  • CMR hard drives enable the reader/writer head to jump quickly between tracks. This can increase transfer speeds compared with other hard drives.
  • CMR hard drives excel in tasks that require fast data access such as video editing and data transfer.
  • CMR hard drives, which are available in many sizes and with different storage capacities, are readily available.
  • CMR drives generally have a faster data recovery process than SMR drives. This is because tracks are not overlapping, and each track can be read individually.

CMR drives come with the following drawbacks:

  • Storage density is generally lower for CMR drives, meaning they are unable to store as many data as SMR.
  • These drives are not as cost-efficient as SMR drives. They require more space in order to hold the same data.
  • CMR drives are not as good for writing large amounts of data and may be less efficient than SMR drives.
  • CMR drives are typically smaller in storage capacity than SMR drives. These hard drives are a great choice for those who require large storage capacities, for example for backup or media collection.
  • CMR hard drives with the same capacity are generally more costly than those made by SMR, making them more attractive for people who need to increase their storage space without breaking the bank.
  • The write head must first wipe out any data that is not in the same track as the SMR drive before it can perform writes. Writing to an SMR hard drive can take longer than writing to one with CMR, particularly for larger files.
  • Instead of being able jump between tracks, the head needs to move through data tracks sequentially to get data from an SMR hard disk. The performance of tasks that require rapid drive access such as data transfer and video editing can be affected.
  • Certain systems, such as the one described above, may not be compatible with certain devices Linux distrosSMR hard drives may not work with a ). Before purchasing an SMR drive, make sure you check the specifications of your computer.

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