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Choosing the Right Internal Hard Disk Drive

The hard drive is where your computer stores all of your saved data for the long term. Choosing the right one is important, but it can also be tricky as companies like Samsung make a huge number of different internal hard drives and internal SSDs with different specifications.

What Type Of Hard Drive Do I Need?

  • Form factor is the physical size of the internal hard drive. Usually hard drives are either 2.5 inches or 3.5 inches, with the 2.5-inch hard internal hard drives being designed for laptops and the larger ones being for bigger laptops and desktops. You can adapt a smaller hard drive to a larger bay by using a drive caddy, but you can't fit a bigger drive into a smaller bay. Although SSDs aren't as limited by the size of a spinning disk, they tend to also follow the same size standards. See the manufacturer site for size details.
  • Hard disk drives have been the standard for a long time, but users today have a choice between HDDs and solid state drives. SSDs can access stored data more quickly than HDDs. However, HDDs tend to have more storage capacity than SSDs. Some manufacturers also make SSHD drives that combines an HDD with a small amount of solid state storage to combine SSD-like speed with the capacity of a regular HDD.

Which Specifications Should I Look At?

  • The headline specification for an internal hard drive is its capacity. Manufacturers like Samsung make hard drives in a lot of different sizes, ranging from 100 GB or so up to multiple terabytes for some of the larger Spinpoint drives. For a typical user, a capacity of around 500 GB is enough to store documents, pictures, movies, and games.
  • While this isn't a factor for SSDs, different models of hard disk drive can spin at different speeds. Modern HDDs are either 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM. The faster it spins, the faster your computer can access the data stored on it.
  • Your internal hard drive has to have a connector that is compatible with your motherboard. If you choose a SATA III HDD, your motherboard needs to be capable of accepting SATA III connectors. SATA III is backwards-compatible with earlier SATA I and SATA II connections, but not at full speed. Do not confuse SATA III and other SATA connections with eSATA, as eSATA is designed for external storage and won't be compatible. There is also mSATA, another incompatible standard designed to connect notebook motherboards to SSDs.
  • The connection type doesn't only matter in terms of compatibility, it can also affect how fast your computer runs. A SATA III connection can transfer 6 GB of data per second, making it twice as fast as SATA II. Choosing a SATA III internal hard drive allows your computer to access stored data more quickly.