Whether your hard drive has crashed, or you're simply running out of space, choosing the right replacement hard drive is a little more complicated than you may think. Making yourself familiar with all the facets can save you time and money.
Space - The First Frontier
It's easy to want to buy the largest hard drive you can afford, but do you really need all that space? There are some users that actually do need terabytes of space, but if you are an average user, you probably don't. Professional or serious amateur photographers need at least 1 TB and up to 2 TB if they store images in RAW format. Music and video collectors with large libraries or avid gamers may also need a terabyte or more, but a normal computer user who stores family photos and a few favorite songs can probably get by with 500 GB.
One Drive or Two?
Some computers come with a space for adding an extra drive, which could be beneficial if you are a power user who needs speed. Having your operating system on one drive and storage on another can prevent disaster if your operating system crashes. However, if you don't need the space, storing important data on a small external drive may suffice.
The Need for Speed
Average desktop hard drives spin at 7,200 revolutions per minute (rpm), but energy-saving hard drives turn slower, at about 5,400rpm. If you are more concerned with speed than energy consumption, you can buy one with a speed of up to 10,000rpm, but the top capacity is 1TB on the faster drives.
How the hard drive connects to the computer depends on what type of port your motherboard has. Very old computers may still have slower Parallel ATA (PATA) ports. Most motherboards now use Serial ATA (SATA) ports, which have speeds of either 3Gbps or 6Gbps. If your computer is compatible with the 6Gbps ports, by all means use it.
The form factor is used to determine whether you need a 3.5 inch or 2.5 inch drive. You need to know how your hard drive mounts to determine which form factor will work best in your computer.
Upgrading or replacing a hard drive involves determining for what and how you use your computer as well as how your computer works and is built. If all of this information sounds like a foreign language to you, it's best to let a qualified computer repair technician make the selection and perform the installation so that you get the space and performance you need.