Internal Hard Drives

Factors When Choosing a New Computer Hard Drive

The need for a new computer brings a sense of excitement for some, but causes a sense of dread in others, particularly those who are unsure of the specifications on the machines available. A little preparation and a review of the basics, however, can go a long way. First, note that three primary resources will be considered. The three main components, whether in a laptop or PC, are the CPU, RAM and hard disk. The CPU and RAM selections determine how powerfully and quickly the machine can perform its tasks, while the hard drive determines how much information can be stored on the computer. RAM and CPU choices are relatively intuitive, with higher numbers generally resulting in better performance.

Drive Selection

With hard drives, the selection isn't quite as simple as it used to be, as choices for drives are more varied now that solid state drives have emerged as competition against traditional hard disk drives. Each type has its merits and drawbacks, the importance of each sometimes depending on user preference. No matter each buyer's personal preferences, the final selection is always easier when armed with information about the types of products available.

Internal vs External Drives

While it is common for computer users to rely on external drives for storing content such as multimedia and portable documents, the main drive that is purchased for a computer is an internal drive that is meant to be permanently affixed in the laptop or PC. Internal drives are used for installing the operating system and the software that will run on the computer. Removable drives, typically connected via USB, are meant to be external rather than for permanent installation within the computer.

SSD or HDD

When ready to select the internal drive, the buyer will see choices between solid state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs). The absence of moving parts on the SSD marks the most basic difference between the two types of drives. On a traditional HDD, a mechanical arm reads and writes data to the drive's spinning, magnetic platters. The specification called RPM, which is rotations per minute, tells the user how fast the drive can operate. The higher the RPMs, the better the read and write speed of the drives. An SSD, though, writes data to a series of specially designed, high quality flash memory chips. The reading speeds are typically faster than HDDs, but depending on the SSD, the write speeds can be a little lower.

Internal Hard Drives

Physical and Storage Size

Since the SSDs do not have mechanical parts and use a special flash technology instead of magnetic plates, size is then another consideration when making a choice of hard drive. The SSDs are smaller and lighter, making them tempting for laptop buyers. That is why many netbooks and specialty lightweight notebook computers now come with an SSD by default. The convenience of the lighter weight, however, comes at the cost of a smaller storage size. While HDDs are available with increasingly larger storage capacities, SSDs have comparatively small storage amounts.

Drive Quality, Pricing and Final Choice

In terms of data integrity, little difference exists between the two types of drives, as hardware can fail with either one. That is simply the nature of technology, unfortunately. Given the differences in the underlying technology, though, potential failures will be for different reasons. Pricing is often the deciding factor when making a final choice, especially when budget is a major consideration. SSDs are much more expensive than HDDs per gigabyte of storage capacity, though prices are on a trajectory to fall over time. Ultimately, a buyer's choice will depend on personal preferences and needs.