Back In 1981, Bill Gates famously said that “640 KB ought to be enough for anyone”. Gee, if the same young Bill Gates would somehow be teleported to present day 2012, he would surely bite his tongue. 640 KB of hard drive space is unimaginable in today’s world where even a small chip the size of a fingernail, can pack around 32 GB of data.
It is a fact that people nowadays are consuming memory space more than ever. A typical hard drive comes with around 250 GB to 1 TB of storage space and the prices of these drives are more than 1/100th of what they used to cost a decade ago.
If you are on the lookout for a new hard drive for your laptop or desktop, there are a lot of things that you should take into account before splashing out like the size of the drive (both memory space and physical size), the speed in RPM of the platters and the access speeds of the hard drive.
It is a very confusing time for buyers with the number of drives available in the market growing every month, here are a few tips for you to make sure that you buy the best drive within your budget.
The physical size of the hard drive hardly matters if you are buying an internal drive, but if you are buying an external drive that you want to carry around, that’s another story. These drives usually come in 2.5-inchs and 3.5-inches. The 2.50-inch drives are built for laptop hard drives and are much smaller in size.
They can also be carried around easily but they are more fragile and expensive as compared to their 3.5-inch counterparts. The 3.5-inch drives on the other hand, are cheaper and bigger in size, but they provide faster speeds and usually more space as well for the same price as that of a 2.5-inch.
Type of Connectivity
These days, SATA hard drives are the norm. You will hardly find an ATA hard drive in the market today, and even if you do, it’s most certain that you will have to spend a lot more for this type of interface. SATA hard drives are also much faster than their ATA counterparts.
All external hard drives consist of an internal hard drive wired into a circuit that converts the drive into different interfaces (usually Firewire and USB), hence, the speed that you get through external drives depend on the type of interface that you choose for connecting to your PC or laptop.
USB 3.0 and Firewire drives provide very fast data transfer rates and are highly recommend if you need speed. Also, these are backward compatible and will work on older USB 2.0 and 1.0 ports through adapters available in the market.
The RPM of a hard drive is an important feature. It determines how many sectors the drive can access almost simultaneously on your drive. Suppose you are playing a huge game like Crysis and sharing your movies on a high speed Internet connection, your hard drive needs to be able to spin very fast so that you can access both the game files and the movies at the same time from different locations on the drive. This is the reason why games don’t load fast enough on older hard drives. If you are purchasing a desktop drive expect nothing less than a 7600 RPM drive, the faster the better. In case of a laptop, you might have to sacrifice the faster spin rates in favor of size.
The bigger the better, the more cache you have the faster your drive is going to perform. Try to go for a hard drive with a cache that is greater than 16 – 32 MB if you are going to play a lot of games and watch downloaded Bluray movies.
There is always a chance that your hard drive can malfunction at any time; luckily, most hard drive manufacturers provide a replacement warranty of 2 – 5 years. This is something you need in the long run. Look for a drive that has the longest warranty period. But remember one fact, the manufacturer will only replace the drive and does not take any responsibility for your data, so be sure to always back up.