When you store films, photos and music on your PC, there is an increasing need for storage space all the time. Fortunately it is fairly straightforward to switch to a larger hard drive in a laptop, or attach an additional and external hard drive to most devices.
IDE or SATA
The most common interface for hard drives today is a Serial ATA connection, more commonly known as SATA. It is used both in desktop and notebook PCs. SATA offers theoretical data transfer rate considerably faster than IDE, which was the standard a few years ago. If you have an old PC that you intend to upgraded you should therefore check whether your motherboard supports SATA. However, there are still a usable range of IDE drives for sale today.
How much space?
There are some factors to consider before you decide how large you want the hard drive to be.
At the moment you can buy 3.5-inch hard disk drives with sizes up to 4 terabytes. It's naturally cheaper to buy one single hard drive at 4 TB rather than 2 at 2 TB each, but you are more vulnerable to hard drive crashes if you used a large hard drive, rather than 2 smaller ones.
There are admittedly also benefits to purchasing a large hard drive rather than several smaller ones. The biggest is that you save on electricity and get less heat and noise in the machine. In addition, you will obviously have a greater opportunity to upgrade at a later date, because you do not use up all of connectivity options on the motherboard.
Hard drive noise
A hard drive can be a significant source of noise, especially in desktops PCs. One of the possibilities to reduce noise, is to buy a hard drive that spins more slowly. The rotation speed is specified in rpm, and the most common hard drives for desktops rotates at a speed of 7200 RPM. 2.5-inch hard drives for laptop usually has a rotational speed of 5400 RPM. It is important to remember that a lower rotational speed also will make the hard drive slower in use, so this will be a case of balancing noise against performance.
Since the SATA connector used on a 2.5 inch hard drive on a laptop is the same used for a desktop PC, it is also possible to purchase a 2.5 inch hard drive and connect it to your desktop computer. It may be a good idea, for example, if the PC is being used in the living room. You will then get less heat and noise, but bear in mind, it will cost you slightly more and the performance will not be as good.
If you are concerned about noise and power consumption and have plenty of money to spend, you might want to consider a flash based hard drive. A Solid State Drive, SSD is a hard drive with no moving parts. It consumes less power and generate less heat. In addition, SSD hard drives are considerably faster than a traditional hard drive. Sadly the extremely high price makes this an unacceptable option for most. However, since SSD drives are becoming more common, the price will inevitably fall.
Internal or external
As storage needs grow, the option of external hard drives has increase in popularity. If you choose an external hard drive solution you can bring additional storage with you wherever you are. The disadvantage is that they tend to have a lower throughput than a internal hard drive. If a good transfer rate is essential to you, you should look for an external hard drive with eSATA connection. It would in theory give you the same baud rate as if you connected the hard drive to the computer internally using SATA. The next best option is USB 3.0, which can offer up to 10 times the speed over USB 2.0. Bear in mind, your computer will need a USB 3.0 port to take advantage of this function.
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