What Should I Consider When Buying a Hard Drive?

When buying a hard drive, consider storage capacity, speed (RPM for HDDs, read/write speeds for SSDs), connectivity (USB, SATA), reliability (brand reputation, warranty), and type (HDD or SSD). Your choice should align with your data needs and budget. How will your decision impact your digital life? Join the conversation and discover the best fit for your tech ecosystem.
Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco

If you have never considered the idea of buying a hard drive, you should. Computer experts say that most people don't give the idea enough thought until they are faced with a crashed drive that cannot be fixed. Buying a new drive should not be something that you do out of necessity, but something that you chose to do in order to protect your files. If you plan ahead, it could be one of the best technical investments you could ever make. A hard drive can serve as a secondary storage device, as daily backup, or as a work center.

If you are buying a hard drive, you should start by doing your research. Hard drives vary considerably depending on brand, size, connection type, and other factors. When it comes to brand, for example, this is one time when relying on a well-known name makes sense. Buying from one of the more popular companies guarantees you are buying from a manufacturer who has experience in the making of hardware.

An external hard drive.
An external hard drive.

Size is not a major problem when buying a hard drive unless you need it for something like video editing or storage. Very few users need something bigger than 100G, but even 40G is enough for most home computer users. Whether you choose an internal or an external drive makes the biggest difference when it comes to price, as internal hard drives are relatively inexpensive. An external drive is slightly more expensive, but you may be able to buy one on an auction site if you are on a limited budget.

An internal hard drive.
An internal hard drive.

You also need to consider the type of connection you have. Most external drives use USB connections, but other options, such as Firewire, are also possible. Internal drives can have a variety of connections, so be sure to check your manual or ask an expert before choosing a drive.

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Discussion Comments


are external hard drives really good if you want to boost your game speed and performance?


Great Article:

Depending on what you are using the drive for also makes a big difference in what you need to look for in a drive.

For external drives you need to consider connection types like the article stated, the three most common are USB 1.0, USB 2.0 and Firewire. Firewire and USB 2.0 are the two fastest interface types. USB 2.0 is now the most common. Check your manual and computer for available ports.

USB hard drives come in two styles USB powered and Self-powered. Self powered hard drives require an extra power outlet available near your desktop or laptop.

If you take your laptop on the go USB powered hard drives are considerably more convenient. You just plug your USB hard drive into your laptop and it is powered right from your laptop's USB port. They also tend to be more expensive and slower then the self powered kinds.

If you are looking to getting the most out of a hard drive like faster game load times, the fastest interfaces now days are SATA 3Gbs(internal) and the new firewires(external). USB 2.0 is also very fast, but still behind the other two. Other interfaces like eSATA are available, but less commonly found on desktops then the other three. You still need to check the hard drive speed. Hard drives have movable parts that are measured in Rotations per Minute (RPMS). The speeds you will find are typically 5400, 7200, and 10000. The faster the hard drive rotates the faster the data can be found and accessed. However 10k RPM are much more expensive.

Make sure you check your manual.

Internal hard drives have two sizes 2.5" and 3.5". 2.5" is typically used for mobile devices like laptops where as the 3.5" drives are for desktop interfaces. This however can vary depending on your system. Make sure you check your manual like this great article says. Some laptops require special drives that may only be found from the laptop manufacturer.

Some brands are cheaper then others and may show in how long the hard drives lasts. Before buying a drive look online and check the reviews. I for example have had troubles with Maxtor drives always dying within a year.

One last note: Make sure you check your manual!

Happy Hard Drive Hunting

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    • An external hard drive.
      An external hard drive.
    • An internal hard drive.
      An internal hard drive.
    • Hard disk drive with case removed to show the platters and the read-write head.
      Hard disk drive with case removed to show the platters and the read-write head.