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Tips on how to buy a external or internal hard disk drive

There are so many models , makes , sizes , speeds and interfaces available these days that the decision to buy a hard drive for the average user has become a hit or miss affair. To prevent buying something totally wrong for your needs , you need to do some research on what your are handing your cash over for.

Here are the things you need to be looking at.

  1. Size of external
  2. Storage Space
  3. Cost
  4. Manufacturer
  5. Interface used
  6. Hard drive speed & Buffer Size

#1 Size of the external casing

There are basically two types of external hard drives you can choose from namely 2.5inch and 3.5inch. The 2.5 hard drive inside the casing normally goes in a laptop and the 3.5 normally goes into a desktop PC.

You should ask yourself what is your priority...Mobility or Space/Cost

If mobility and comfort of use is your main priority , you should get a 2.5inch external as they don't normally require an external power source like with a 3.5inch drive.

If hard drive space and cost is your priority , then go for the 3.5inch external. The cost per GB is about half that of a comparable 2.5inch drive but you need a external power adapter to use the drive. In general , the 3.5inch drives are faster then 2.5inch drives.



Fig 1 - 3.5inch compared to 2.5inch hard drive

#2 Storage Space

Size is one of the main concerns when buying a new hard drive. Think about a size you would think you need in the next 6 months and double it. This will ensure that you don't (like me) buy a drive which you think you will never fill up , and fill it within a few months and have to buy another one.

Also consider what you need from your external drive. If you are going to be using your drive mostly for music backup you would need less space than for instance movies.


#3 Cost of the drive

Another thing to look at is value for money. Don't buy a 320Gb drive for $100 if you can get a 500Gb for $110. You will eventually need the extra space so look at what the next size up will cost you extra and make a decision.

For instance...A 500Gb internal hard drive would cost me $75 at the moment , but the 750Gb drive is about $85. I'd rather go for the 750Gb drive.

#4 Manufacturer

It is important to bring into consideration the manufacturer of the drive. Don't buy a drive with a unknown brand name as this will probably come back to haunt you somewhere in the future. I prefer to use Seagate and Western Digital drives as I have never had a problem with them and they carry a good warranty. There are other good drives , but I'd rather stick to what works for me. Ask around to determine what brand you should get and do google searches if you are still unsure of a particular brand.

#4 Interface available

The interface which you use to connect the drive to your computer is very important as this will govern the maximum speed which you could expect to be copying from and to the drive.

For internal drives , there are basically 3 options


IDE - 40MB/s and connection interface is on it's way out.


SATA - 143 MB/s


SATA 2 - 375 MB/s

The speeds vary considerably in real world scenarios and should only be a guide.


For external drives , there are also 3 options


USB - 25MB/s


Firewire - 40 MB/s


eSATA - 70 MB/s

This is real world data (not theoretical) and also should only be used as a guide as there are many factors that determine the max transfer speed.



#5 Hard drive speed & Buffer

The speed at which the drive rotates in the enclosure has a big impact on the speed which you can expect from the drive. The faster the drive rotates , the faster is will transfer data and the more expensive the drive will be. A good speed would be 7200RPM or more.

The buffer is basically the amount of ram which is physically on the hard drive's board and the more of it you have , the faster and smoother your drive will transfer data.

Here are some of the most popular hard drive manufacturer's websites so you can explore what products they offer.

Western Digital
Seagate
Maxtor (now incorporated into Seagate)
Samsung
Hitachi
Fujitsu-Siemens

That's about everything you need to know before purchasing a hard drive. Follow these steps and you should be able to make a informed decision as to what you should and should not buy.

When you have bought and want to format your drive to Fat32 , see THIS TIP

When you have bought and want to partition your drive, see THIS TIP

Please remember to rate this tip if you found it useful.



Kind Regards
Stephan




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Related Topics:

Related Questions:

1 Answer

hard drive capacity


It's 10.2 GB


Maxtor 10.2 GB UDMA/66 7200 RPM IDE Hard Drive

General Features:
10.2 GB formatted capacity
UDMA/66
7200 RPM spindle speed
2 MB buffer
9.0 ms average access time
4.17 ms average latency
E-IDE/ATAPI interface
3.5-inch form factor

Notes:
Drive only
Maxtor model #: 51024U2

Additional Information:

Product Requirements

IDE controller
IDE cable
Available 3.5-inch drive bay
Available 4-pin power connector

Jun 28, 2012 | Maxtor Computers & Internet

1 Answer

code da620000 what is capacity


It's 10.2 GB


Maxtor 10.2 GB UDMA/66 7200 RPM IDE Hard Drive

General Features:
10.2 GB formatted capacity
UDMA/66
7200 RPM spindle speed
2 MB buffer
9.0 ms average access time
4.17 ms average latency
E-IDE/ATAPI interface
3.5-inch form factor

Notes:
Drive only
Maxtor model #: 51024U2

Additional Information:

Product Requirements...

IDE controller
IDE cable
Available 3.5-inch drive bay
Available 4-pin power connector

Jun 28, 2012 | Maxtor Computers & Internet

3 Answers

I have a Seagate external hard drive model # 9w6044-500. I need to know what kind of drive it has, how many gigs it is and what size disc it uses.


Hi,

Welcome to Fixya. Here's the specs of the hard drive

MPN: 9w6044-500
Capacity: 160 GB
Interface: USB
Enclosure: External
Spindle Speed: 7200 RPM
Special Features: Vertical or Horizontal Placement
Internal Data Transfer Rate : 464 Mbit/s
External Data Transfer Rate: 60 MBps
Seek Time: 8.5 ms
Buffer Size: 8 MB
Average Latency: 4.17 ms
Interface (Detailed): USB 2.0
Hot Swap: Yes
Platform: PC, Mac
Height: 2.25 in.
Width: 6.5 in.
Depth: 7.13 in.
Weight: 2 lb.

If you have questions please let me know. Thanks for using Fixya.

Mar 13, 2011 | Seagate (9W6044-500) 160 GB Hard Drive

3 Answers

I want to swap out a hard drive.


Yes, you can change the size and speed. You must make sure your interface is the same, either IDE (a wide 40 pin connector that uses a ribbon cable) or SATA (a small black 4 pin connector).

Dec 29, 2008 | Dell OptiPlex GX270 PC Desktop

1 Answer

hard drive


You will need any 2.5" inch hard drive. The size that you choose is your option.

However, I do recommend at least 60-80 gigabytes minimum for any operating system these days.

You will want to be sure that you are not buying a SERIAL ATA drive as this particular model still uses the standard IDE interface hard drives.

Also note that there are different speeds of hard drives. For laptops, the usual speeds are 4200 RPM and 5400 RPM. In order to gain the best performance, you will want to find a hard drive with the 5400 RPM speed.

I have taken the liberty of looking up a couple good hard drives on newegg.com. (The best site for buying PC parts...as well as many other things.)

The following link is what I consider to be a pretty good deal. Good size at 160GB and is 5400 RPM.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148224

The next link is more for economy if you don't want to spend that much money. It is an 80GB drive with the better 5400 RPM speed for performance. This is the lowest I would go whether your a hardcore user or even a casual user. Great price for this drive. :)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148128

If you have any further questions, please come back and ask them. I would rather continue helping you to find a solution than to receive a lower rating.

I'll be watching. :)

Cyryl

Nov 06, 2007 | Acer Aspire 3000 Notebook

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