Internal Hard Disk Drive Buying Guide

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Internal Hard Disk Drive Buying Guide

Constant advances in hard disk drive technology means that buyers can purchase large capacity internal drives at increasingly competitive prices. An internal hard disk drive is built directly into the computer case and is attached to the motherboard or interface card via parallel advanced technology attachment (PATA) or serial ATA (SATA). SATA is the newer technology, and is easier to install and use. An additional internal drive can be used to expand a computer's storage ability or the original drive can be replaced with a larger one.

When buying an internal hard disk drive, capacity is one of the most important factors to consider. Depending on the user's needs, speed may be equally important. Choose an interface that is easy to use and matches current hardware configurations. Hard drives can be noisy and this should be taken into account, especially if the computer is used as a multimedia centre. Additional factors, such as available space, power supply capabilities, and bundled items, should also be considered before buying. Internal hard disk drives are available from computer and electronics shops and online from eBay..

Capacity of Internal Hard Disk Drives

Thirty years ago computer users would have been incredulous if they were told that 1 terabyte (TB) hard drives would be readily available in the not too distant future. Initially, hard drives of a few megabytes were common. Now, hard drives with a few hundred gigabytes of space are found in most laptop and desktop computers. Drives measured in terabytes are becoming increasingly popular. The table below lists and describes units of storage capacity.

Unit of Storage Capacity

Description

Bit

Smallest unit of data used by computers

Byte

8 bits

Kilobyte (KB)

1,000 bytes

Megabyte (MB)

1,000 kilobytes

Gigabyte (GB)

1,000 megabytes

Terabyte (TB)

1,000 gigabytes

Storage capacity is measured differently to virtual file sizes. As a result, a 250 GB hard drive may appear smaller once it is installed. This is perfectly normal and is the result of different measuring standards employed by hardware and software manufacturers.

Those who use computers for business, surfing the Internet, and email may never completely fill a 250 GB hard drive. However, users who edit photographs, video, or audio could find that a 1TB drive soon fills up. The type and size of files stored determines the user's storage needs. Multimedia applications and larger files require more hard drive space. If in doubt, choose a larger hard drive. It is better to have too much space than too little and future needs may require more storage space.

Large capacity drives tend to be fairly expensive. If a large amount of space is not required at the moment, consider buying a smaller drive and adding more storage as needed. Most computers also allow users to add more than one drive and an external drive can always be used for extra storage space.

Speed of Internal Hard Disk Drives

Most desktop-size internal hard disk drives spin at 7,200 revolutions per minute (rpm). High-speed models typically spin at 10,000 rpm.. The speed of the disk influences how fast data is retrieved and written. Most casual and business users do not need super fast drives. Gamers and professional users may be willing to pay a premium price for a faster hard disk drive. Internal drives generally spin faster than external drives.

Seek speed, measured in milliseconds, indicates how fast a drive can find a specific piece of data. Differences in seek speed are rarely noticeable with everyday use, unless a large folder made up of many smaller subfolders is copied. Seek speed tends to increase with the size of the drive.

Interface of Internal Hard Disk Drives

Most newer PCs use the SATA interface.. This supports maximum data transfer rates of either 150 or 300 MB per second. The higher data transfer rate is not applicable in standard desktop use; it is typically available in a redundant array of independent disk (RAID) set-ups. PATA drives are still available and have maximum data transfer rates of 100 or 133 MB per second. Both types of drives are backwards compatible, so a faster 300 MB per second SATA drive can be run on a 150 MB per second bus.

Although PATA-to-SATA adapters are available it is generally better to match the drive's interface to the computer's where possible, as this delivers the best performance. SATA drives work only with a SATA interface. PCI Express and PCI add-in cards that allow users to add a SATA interface to a computer without one are inexpensive and readily available.

Noise of Internal Hard Disk Drives

Some internal hard disk drives are quite noisy. This can be a problem if the PC is used as a media centre, although drives rarely produce enough noise to drown out music or audio. Many manufacturers produce speciality drives designed to reduce system noise. Opt for one of these if noise is a problem.

Factors to Consider When Buying an Internal Hard Disk Drive

While capacity, speed, and interfaces are the most important factors to consider, some additional features and characteristics should be taken into account during the buying process. The PC case should have enough space to accommodate the drive. Check the availability of internal drive bays and the size of the motherboard and other components. A smaller case may mean that drives must be replaced instead of added. Users who are not confident with visual checks should consult the computer's manual. The power supply should have a spare plug for the additional drive. It should also be powerful enough to run the drive with the existing hardware.

Consider investing in an additional external hard drive for making backups. This frees internal hard disk drive space and means that all data is not lost if anything goes wrong with the PC. A smaller capacity internal drive may be cheaper as demand for these drives fall in favour of larger capacity models. It may also be possible to buy two 500 GB drives for less than a 1 TB drive. Look for drives that are sold with mounting hardware, the necessary cables, instructions, and additional software. This makes it easier to swap drives or install an additional drive.

How to Buy an Internal Hard Disk Drive on eBay

Finding the perfect internal hard disk drive on eBay is simple. Type a key phrase, for example "Western Digital SATA drive&", into the search field, which can be found on every page, to see listings available from eBay sellers. Since this displays all items tagged with the chosen keywords, it may be necessary to refine your search. To do this, simply choose the most appropriate category and item characteristics. For more options, use the advanced search feature..

Before You Buy on eBay

Before buying on eBay, evaluate the item and the seller by using the information on the item listing page.. Click on an individual listing to see additional details such as the full item description, buying choices, payment options, the terms of the seller's policies, postage and packaging costs, and the seller's feedback information. If you have any questions about a listing, contact the seller via the "Ask a question&" link.

eBay's seller feedback feature makes it easy to get to know the seller before you buy. Click on the number next to the seller's username to see what previous buyers have to say about his or her products and customer service. Detailed seller ratings provide extra information about aspects such as the seller's communication, the accuracy of the item description in the original listing, and the reasonableness of posting and packaging costs. Use this information to form your own opinion of the seller.

Conclusion

When buying an internal hard disk drive, capacity, speed, and interface are the three most important factors to consider. Casual computer users typically need little more than a low-capacity 300 GB drive for storing word processing documents, emails, and some music and photos. Those who store large amounts of digital images, audio, or video should consider larger drives of at least 750 GB. Gamers who are focused on performance should opt for two 10,000 rpm drives in a RAID 0 set-up. Although this limits storage capabilities, it does improve performance.

SATA interfaces are commonly found on newer computers. PATA drives are still available, but it is better to buy SATA if possible as these drives are easier to use and install. Match the drive interface to the computer's interface for the best performance. Invest in a PCI Express or PCI add-in card if necessary. SATA drives do not work on a PATA interface.

Choose a special system noise reduction drive if noise is a problem. In addition, make sure that there is enough space available in the hard drive case to allow for the addition of new hard drives. Check whether the power supply has a free plug and the ability to power an additional device, taking into account the demands made by existing system components. Consider using a smaller internal hard disk drive in conjunction with a large external drive if this is more cost effective. eBay sellers offer a range of internal hard disk drives for all types of computer users.

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