Choos­ing an... In­ter­nal hard disk

Computer Shopper - - REVIEWS -


A ba­sic 1TB in­ter­nal hard disk should cost around £40. This will be fast enough for gen­eral use and will pro­vide enough stor­age for most users.

Make sure the hard disk you choose has the ap­pro­pri­ate in­ter­face type for your PC. Some me­chan­i­cal hard disks still come with SATA2 in­ter­faces, but newer mod­els and most solid-state drives (SSDs) have faster SATA3 in­ter­faces. You’ll need a mother­board with a SATA3 port if you want to ben­e­fit from SATA3’s faster speeds; SATA3 disks will work with SATA2 ports but can only trans­fer files at SATA2 speeds.


SSDs can make the most of SATA3’s ex­tra band­width for fast file trans­fers. They use flash mem­ory sim­i­lar to that found in USB flash drives, and al­though they tend to pro­vide less ca­pac­ity than me­chan­i­cal hard disks, they’re sig­nif­i­cantly faster. The lat­est drives use the NVMe stan­dard, but re­quire an M.2 port.


Buy a hard disk that pro­vides more ca­pac­ity than you think you need, as your stor­age re­quire­ments are likely to grow. A 3TB disk strikes the best bal­ance be­tween ca­pac­ity and low cost per gi­ga­byte.


If you want more disk space or you want to pro­tect your data against disk fail­ure, think about buy­ing sev­eral hard disks to cre­ate a RAID ar­ray. These use mul­ti­ple hard disks to cre­ate one large log­i­cal disk with better per­for­mance, or to du­pli­cate your data for better pro­tec­tion. RAID ar­rays re­quire hard disks of the same size. In the­ory, they can be from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers, but it’s better to buy iden­ti­cal disks if you can.


A hard disk’s spin­dle speed de­ter­mines how quickly it can trans­fer data. A spin­dle speed of 7,200rpm is com­mon in desk­top drives and is fast enough for most purposes. Desk­top hard disks with 5,400rpm spin­dle speeds are quite slow but use less power and gen­er­ate less heat and noise.

To strike the best bal­ance be­tween speed and stor­age ca­pac­ity, use an SSD as your sys­tem disk and store your files on a larger me­chan­i­cal disk.

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