Back It Up: Your Guide to All Types of Hard Drive

Thinking of buying a new hard drive?

You’ll need one if you want to store more files, install more games, or try out new applications. They’re also important for running your operating system and for backing up crucial files.

However, there are many types of hard drive devices. Each one serves a different purpose and relies on different technology. How do you know which one is the best for the budget you have?

We’ve got the answers you seek. Discover the answers and more with our in-depth hard drive buying guide below:

Internal Hard Drives

What is a hard drive? When people ask that question, they often refer to the physical drive inside the CPU case.

This is the internal hard drive and it has to connect directly to your motherboard. Most computers will only have one, which you can partition into two. Desktop computers can hold up to two but bigger motherboards could hold more.

Laptops, unfortunately, often have space for only one internal hard drive.

Two types of hard drive devices fit this category. There are the old Hard Disks Drives and the new Solid-State Disks. Discover the pros and cons of each below:

Hard Disk Drive

A Hard Disk Drive uses a physical rotating disk inside a protective case. When it stores data, the computer has to manually embed the data onto the physical drive.

HDDs feature tracks, much like a vinyl record, on a magnetically sensitive platter. Reading and writing on this drive requires a mechanical arm with a sensitive reader to touch the platter and decipher the charges on it.

Over the years, HDDs got smaller and faster. However, they do rely on mechanical parts.

Pros of HDD

The biggest advantage of an HDD nowadays is its price. Not a lot of desktop computers rely on them so you’ll find them quite cheap. This is a good option if you’re building a PC intended for basic office work and nothing more.

Another advantage is the fact they can store a lot of data. You’ll find HDDs out in the market that have up to 16 TB of storage space. That’s more than most people need but it’s good to have the option available.

Cons of HDD

Unfortunately, the HDD is already a bit outdated as the SSD continues to improve.

First, there is the issue of properly partitioning an HDD. It can get a little complicated, especially with older hardware. You’ll need a guide to show you have to partition a hard drive on Mac, for example.

Not every motherboard works with an HDD anymore. Many of the modern ones only have slots for SSDs. This means you might not be able to use the HDD you have.

HDDs also have a much slower read and write speed compared to SSDs. This might not be an issue for small files but it is a problem when transferring gigabytes of data or when playing modern games that require faster reading speeds.

Solid-State Disks

The best type of hard drive these days is the SSD or solid-state drive. Unlike the previous storage device, these utilize flash memory chips. SSDs rely on semiconductors to hold information, altering electrical charges on small capacitors.

This requires no mechanical moving parts, guaranteeing faster read and write speeds.

Most laptops nowadays feature an SSD. Modern motherboards for desktop computers use them too. The latest consoles, such as the Playstation 5, now feature SSDs.

Why do most modern computers use SSDs and are there any downsides? Discover the pros and cons below:

Pros of SSD

As mentioned, these hard drives don’t rely on mechanical parts. This reduces wear and tear, meaning an SSD can last far longer than an HDD. The switch to semiconductors also means they can read and write data at a much faster pace.

This extra speed becomes crucial for modern video games, video rendering, or when transferring large files. These are so fast that even modern gaming consoles now use them. You can even add additional SSDs on a Playstation 5, for example.

SSDs are also more compact, meaning you could potentially add more to your desktop computer. Some modern laptops have space for you to add one or two more SSDs as well.

Cons of SSD

The biggest hurdle with SSDs is their price. They aren’t cheap so you’ll have to save a bit.

Current SSDs also don’t store a lot of space. You’ll find some that can hold 2 or 3 TB of space but that’s as far as they go. It won’t take long for technology to improve, however, as there are already micro SD cards that can also hold up to 2 TB of space.

External Hard Drives

There are also external types of hard drives. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to use a hard drive or how to connect one to your motherboard. These only require you to plug them into a USB port.

Older external hard drives, particularly external HDDs, also require a power source. External SSDs don’t need this and you can simply plug them into your USB port to start accessing stored files and applications.

Since these use USB ports, look for an external hard drive that uses USB 3.1 or a USB Type-C end. These guarantee faster transfer speeds.

Buy the Right Types of Hard Drive

Now you know the different types of hard drive devices and which ones you should invest in. You can get a cheap HDD for simple office tasks or stick with the more expensive SSD for gaming and other modern uses. For additional storage on the go, invest in a decent external hard drive too.

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