How to Choose a Hard drive

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How to Choose a Hard drive

8 Important Factors for Choosing Hard drive

Hard drives are the main storage material present on your computer. Therefore the operating systems
and other programs greatly depend on the hard drive for their storage. 

Hard drives store data semi permanently which means the data stored inside the hard drive will not be removed unless the user manually deletes it. And also unlike a RAM it is non-volatile, meaning the data stored inside the hard drive will be there even without a power source

Whether you are planning for building a PC or looking for an upgrade, the choice of new hard drive seems difficult. As you download, install programs, create documents, the hard drive you are using may not be sufficient. The need for a better storage device increases with the amount of work you do with the system. To overcome this hard drive manufacturers constantly produce new models. Each different model is optimized for different purposes. Choosing one can be a difficult task if you are a rookie user. 

Usually in hard drive selection many people select through the capacity. Even if it is correct, there are many factors to consider. Because choosing a wrong hard drive will make your computer not to support them. 

In this article, I will be illustrating How to Choose a Hard drive. At the end of the post, you will know how to buy both internal and external hard drives for a replacement.

Let's move to the topic,

1. Hard disk drive Vs Solid state drive

There are 2 popular types of storage devices available for a computer. They are the Hard disk drive (HDD) and the Solid state drive (SSD). The major difference between them is the method of storage. Apart from that they posses almost same features. 

A traditional hard disk drive is mechanical which means it relies on the movement of read/write heads, drive motors and logic circuits. It has a higher failure rate compared to a solid state drive. But in terms of price, cost of a traditional hard disk drive is significantly less. On the other hand, a modern solid state drive uses flash memory for their storage. 

When comparing to a hard disk drive, a solid state drive has few advantages. It has greater lifespan, high speed and performance, uses less power and no noise is produced. If you are a person who does not care about the price, always try to invest in a modern solid state drive.

2. Storage Capacity

Hard drive storage capacity varies from model to model. The lowest known storage capacity for both desktop and laptop is 80GB. A hard drive with only 80GB of storage space is considered too low even for general use. On the other hand, maximum known storage capacity for a desktop is 10TB and for a laptop is 2TB. In general all the people choose to have hard drive with more capacity. But it is not correct, a hard drive with greater capacity costs more and has slow mechanism compared to a low capacity hard drive.

Therefore always choose storage capacity according to the needs. If you are a gamer who regularly play high end games then a hard drive with 1TB if storage capacity is more than enough. In the opposite if you are using your computer only for basic level of works, 500GB even 256GB is considered enough. 

3. Physical Sizes

Physical sizes of a hard drive is measured using form factors. All the datas of the hard drive gets stored inside the magnetic disks. Since hard drives depend on magnetic disks, more and more disks are needed for storage. Therefore the no. of magnetic disks used is directly proportional to the storage capacity of the hard drive. 

Hard drives today comes with 2 well known form factors, 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch. Desktop computer normally uses hard drives with 3.5 inch form factor that goes up to 12TB of storage space. Since the size of a laptop is smaller, it only uses hard drives with 2.5 inch form factor that goes up to 2TB  of storage space. Apart from that most solid state drives uses 2.5 inch form factors.

4. Transfer Speed

Transfer speed of a hard drive is determined by many factors. Among them Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) is an important factor. All the traditional hard drives contain magnetic disks which are rotating at high speed. RPM is a measurement of how many rotations does the disk complete per minute. 

Most of the hard drives has 7200 RPM which is a decent rate. Laptop hard drives has a RPM of 5400. Even there are some gaming hard drives with 1000 RPM. As you can see the RPM of hard drive varies. In general greater the RPM, faster the read and write function therefore faster the data transmission.

5. Correct Interface

Interface is the way on which the hard drive is connected to the motherboard. There are 2 known interfaces used by a hard drive they are the Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) and the Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment (PATA). Hard drives uses either SATA or PATA interfaces not both. 

During earlier days, EIDE (Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics) interfaces are used most by the computer. Then came the SATA interface which is an improved version of ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment). After the upgrade to the SATA interface, data transmissions were much faster. 

It is crucial for a user to choose either of these interfaces if he/she needs an upgrade or repairing. Select a SATA hard drive if your computer uses SATA interface and select a PATA hard drive of your computer uses PATA interface

6. Cache Memory

When the hard drive is constantly performing read and write functions, it needs a space for storing the temporary data. This space is known as the Cache Space (also known as the Buffer Space). Therefore their function is similar to that of a RAM. This space will also be used for storing the data which has been accessed frequently. Usually available cache space will be indicated at the end of the hard drive model number. 

A hard drive with only 2MB of cache space is considered low quality, 8MB mid quality and 16GB a high end hard drive. Even there are some hard drives with 128MB of cache memory. It is recommended to choose hard drives with more cache memory as it will have a small impact on the performance.

7. RAID Setup

Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) setup is the configuration when 2 or more hard drives are connected together. These types of setup needs hard drives with same capacity. Through these RAID setup hard drive can experience significant increase in speed

There are 5 commonly used RAID setups there are RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 and RAID 10. Out of these most server administrators use RAID 1 and RAID 10 configurations. Others use RAID 0 configurations. If you are a person who is concerned about data safety, consider about RAID setup.

8. Power Consumption

Power consumption of a hard drive depend on the manufacturers and the model. If the hard drive you choose has high power consumption it will also generate more heat. As a result the fan has to work hard to exhaust this heat which will result to a high noise level. Therefore choose hard drives with less power consumption in order to avoid electricity wastage and loud noises.

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