Pick Your Hard Drive in Three Easy StepsStep 1: Determine Space Needed
Hard drive technology has come a long way in terms of the amount of space available on a single drive. The largest drives available for home use today can store as much as 1 T (1000 GB) on a single drive.
An important consideration to make is how much space you actually need. Though it can be enticing to purchase an entire terabyte of space, know that you will pay a premium for the extra space. Many home users, myself included, have trouble filling even 250 GB with random assortments of files.
For your reference, 100 GB is roughly enough space to store:
* 400,000 Twenty Page Documents OR
* 17,000 Songs OR
* 17,000 10 Megapixel Camera Photos OR
* 52 Two Hour Long MoviesStep 2: Determine Speed Needed
Inside a hard drive is a magnetic platter which stores all of the information. A major determining factor in how fast a hard drive operates is the rate at which the magnetic platter spins. The speed is rated in RPM or revolutions per minute.
The industry standard in most hard drives today is 7200 RPM. If you don’t know, chances are that the hard drive in the computer you’re using to read this is running at a speed of either 7200 RPM or 5400 RPM, a slower more outdated standard.
Hard Drive manufacturer Western Digital has made the only hard drives which run at a faster 10,000 RPM available for home use via their Raptor and VelociRaptor lines. These faster hard drives will make your computer feel faster due to more rapid loading of any application.
However, you will pay a large premium for the special Raptor or VelociRaptor hard drives. Even a Raptor with relatively little space can run a user as much as 100 dollars.
Also, make sure that your hard drive uses the industry standard SATA interface. Whether it uses SATA 1 (1.5 GB/s) or SATA 2 (3.0 GB/s) does not matter – both will run at the same speed in any home computer and are compatible with one another.Step 3: Determine Number of Drives Needed
Today hard drives are large enough such that one large hard drive is all the home user should require in a computer.
There are three types of people who should consider using more than one drive:
* Professional Photographers or Movie Editors who know that they’ll need more than 1 Terabyte of space.
* People who can’t afford large Raptors but still want the benefits of having a 10,000 RPM hard drive.
* People who want to run their hard drives in RAID.
For those who feel that they cannot afford a fast hard drive but still want the benefits of a 10,000 RPM hard drive can simply purchase a small but fast hard drive along with a large and slower hard drive. All documents and pictures go on the slower hard drive whereas the operating system and games are stored on the fast hard drive. By doing this, you save money while still having a speedy system.
To those who want to put their system into RAID – I highly suggest that you do not. There are three types of RAID which allow you to effectively merge separate hard drive together, conferring a benefit to the user.
If you don’t know anything about RAID, skip to the next section – this next part is to offer my opinions concerning RAID setups.
Many people will want to run their hard drives in RAID 0 in the hopes that it will speed up their computing. And though benchmarks seem to support the fact that RAID 0 is faster than a 10,000 RPM hard drive, realize that in an actual desktop environment the performance gains are quite minimal.
Those who want to run in RAID 1 for the added security should realize that RAID 1 does not protect you from viruses, crashes, etc. RAID 1 is merely used to protect your data in the event that your hard drive fails. However you should be backing up highly sensitive data on an external hard drive in the event of a Trojan or virus forcing a reformat in the first place.My Suggestions:
If you have decided to run a 7200 RPM standard hard drive, look into the Seagate Barracuda line of hard drives which tend to run faster than their 7200 RPM counterparts. Western Digital also makes excellent drives, but are generally a tad bit slower than their Seagate counterparts (Raptor excluded)
For a 10000 RPM hard drive, you’ll be forced to purchase a Western Digital Raptor or VelociRaptor as Western Digital is the only manufacturer to release higher RPM hard drives for home use.
Edited by TM_Skylark, 14 January 2009 - 11:17 AM.