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How to choose a HDD?

  • Hard Drives
  • Storage
Last response: in Storage
May 5, 2011 4:52:16 PM


I'm new here ... be gentle!

Long story cut short; my main desktop computer has an IDE HDD, and it's not that young. I run Ubuntu, and am about to upgrade to 11.04, and am contemplating a new HDD to run it on. The old IDE one (Western Digital) can move to another machine I have which will be used for something a bit more experimental ...

But, how do I choose a HDD? There are (literally) hundreds available to choose from, and I don't know where to start. FWIW, my current drive is 320Gb, and I'm using less than 100Gb of that (although I have recently bought a decent digi camera and hence am using abit more space.)

The computer is a home-built thing, and about 3 years old. I use it for surfing t'interweb, eMail, storing pictures, storing documents and storing a quantity of music. However I am aware that my requirements are pretty minimal compared to most ...

Budget? As much as it costs, but I'm not keen to spend more than necessary. I'm toying with the idea of a small Solid-State drive and a larger regular drive, but that's just an idea at this stage.

How do I choose? And what would you recommend?

Thanks, in advance, for any advice.


P.S. I'm UK based, if that makes any difference. Oh, it doesn't? Ah, that settles that then.

P.P.S. I'm not on the bleeding-edge. I'm a pretty boring user. Veritably remedial by the standards of most chaps on here, so please speak slowly - thanks!

More about : choose hdd

a c 415 G Storage
May 5, 2011 5:28:44 PM

First question: does your motherboard support SATA? IDE hard drives are getting to be hard to come by these days.

The next thing you need to decide is how much performance you need. If performance is not an issue, you could buy a "green" drive which is designed to save power - but these drives spin slower and are generally not recommended for installing an OS on because of the higher I/O activity that implies.

If you're interested in a drive with "standard" performance levels then pretty much any of the 7200 RPM drives will work just fine.

If you're willing to pay extra for better performance you could go with a 10,000 RPM drive such as the Western Digital Velociraptor, or you could buy an SSD (Solid State Disk) for really blazing speed.

In terms of capacity - you're probably just as well off with a hard drive that's a LOT bigger than you need. You can't buy 100GB drives these days, and 1TB drives are hardly any more expensive than 500GB drives. The advantage of a larger drive is that it tends to perform better.

Here's a link to a report that shows disk reliability ratings by brand and model, you'll probably want to choose a drive that ranks among the more reliable. But remember that ANY hard drive can fail so be sure to make backups of any data that's important:
May 5, 2011 6:10:58 PM


Thanks, that was very helpful. Yes, my motherboard does support SATA (as well as IDE.)

I'm guessing, but I'd have thought that the power consumption of a HDD must be pretty small anyway, hence choosing a 'green' one over any other one would only offer a tiny saving. And slow-booting computers are a pain in the neck, so the advice to avoid one is good, thanks.

Size - point taken.

Thanks for the reliability link. That's very helpful.