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Best Hard Drives - How to Pick the Best Hard Drives for Your System - Internal or External?, Internal Connections, Does Size Matter?

cables ide hardware sata

Are you interested in finding a new hard drive for your computer? Is your old drive just filling to the brim with pictures, movies, games, or other data? Well, finding a new hard drive does not need to be a complex process. However, there are a few key factors to consider before making your purchase. In this guide, we will go over the main things you should consider when shopping for your new piece of hardware. Think on each one in order to come up with the best overall solution for you.

Internal or External?

First off, hard drives are commonly available in internal and external formats. External hard drives are infinitely simpler, so if you are afraid of even the thought of opening your computer case to install new hardware, this is the way to go for you. All you have to do is connect the external drive to a USB port (and maybe a power outlet), and that is it. Or if you have opened your case and found that there is no real room for another hard drive, that could be another reason to go external.

So if it is so much easier, why do people ever go with internal drives? Well, because external drives connect through the USB port, they can be a little slower than an internal drive that is connected directly by a ribbon IDE cable or a SATA cable. There is also the issue of cost – external drives are a little more pricey than internal, because of the extra plastic framing that usually accompanies external drives, not to mention the design work that went into it.

If you have taken a peek inside your case and determined that you can fit another drive inside, then go ahead and proceed to the next step.

Internal Connections

Now you must take note of your internal connections. Most new drives that you find today will be of the SATA connection type, which is much less bulky and obtrusive than the old IDE “ribbon” cables. So if you do buy a brand new drive, you should make sure that your system is set up to connect to SATA devices. If you have an older machine that can handle nothing but IDE ribbon cable connections, then you have to change your attack plan. If you cannot find any new drives that support IDE, try finding a decent used hard drive that does use IDE cables.

Do not panic if you see some ribbon cables in your machine – plenty of the newest machines still have at least a couple of these connections in order to support the older hardware. The key is having an actual SATA connection – look for cables that have a similar head to the power cables, except skinnier and usually with a loop handle to make it easier to plug/unplug them from devices. If all you see is a bunch of the flat grey ribbon cables and power cables, then you need to go the used route or track a hard drive down that still does IDE.

Does Size Matter?

The next issue to tackle is the size of your new drive. Obviously, your budget will come into play here, because the more space you get, the more expensive the drive is. It never hurts to have too much space, though, so you should go as high as you feel comfortable with. Currently some of the highest and most coveted drives contain one terabyte of space. This is a lot. Specifically, it is 1,000 gigabytes. Look at your current drive to see its full capacity. Now consider how long it has taken you to get it to its current state of fullness. If it has taken five years to fill up a 50 gigabyte drive, then you probably do not need to go crazy with a terabyte or even a 100 gig drive. However, if you have filled up your previous drive quickly, then you should definitely look into the extra space capacity.

How to Find the Perfect Model for You

OK, so here we are. You have assessed your system, you have assessed your memory needs, and now you are ready to head out and make a purchase! Of course, some of the most convenient purchasing can all be done online at sites like NewEgg.com, who offer discounted rates on all computer hardware. The best part about sites like these is the customer reviews, where people who (mostly) know a thing or two about computers put in their two cents on items they have actually purchased and used. It is of no use to list popular brand names here, because even within the same brand different models can have completely different quality ratings. That is why these customer reviews should become your compass to navigate these unfamiliar seas.

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