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Our Comprehensive Guide to Purchasing a New Computer, Part III

Our Comprehensive Guide to Purchasing a New Computer, Part III

In this part of our computer buying guide, we’re focusing on storage space. Modern devices have several options available to them for storage, but the amount of space will vary by the brand of the device and the types of external storage used. Needless to say, knowing how much storage is available on your device will be extremely important, as it will dictate how you use it and what you store on it.

To emphasize just how much data storage has changed over the years, consider the following facts:

  • Long ago, the standard floppy diskette could store around 1.44 MB (megabytes) of data. To put it in perspective, a single MP3 file would need multiple floppy diskettes to store.
  • A CD can contain around 650 MB of data, while a DVD can hold around 4.7 GB.
  • A single DVD can hold more data than 3,342 floppy disks.
  • A Blu-Ray disk can store up to 10 times the data a DVD can.
  • Google’s data storage exceeds 15 exabytes, approximately 26.2 million Blu-Ray disks in size.

How Your Computer Use Changes Your Storage Needs
First, consider the type of storage you’ll need for your device. For example, if your device is plugged into your office’s network, then you can assume that most of your organization’s data is going to be stored in a central location or in the cloud. This means that your device likely doesn’t need much onboard storage space outside of enough for the operating system and any programs that don’t work through the cloud or other random file storage. If your computer is for personal use, however, you should invest a bit more into extra storage, particularly if you’re using the device for video production.


When determining which device you want to use for storage, you’ll encounter two different choices: solid state drives (SSD) or hard disk drives (HDD). 

Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

Hard disk drives are components that store data in your computer. They have been utilized for over three decades, and they consist of tiny electric motors that power spinning stacks of magnetic platters, as well as a small arm to read and write data. Imagine all of this in a device no bigger than a paperweight. These devices are often called mechanical drives due to their many moving parts.

Since HDDs can hold large amounts of data, they are often preferred to the alternative, though they are certainly slower and less energy-efficient. They are also more fragile and prone to breaking, specifically due to how the innards work. Laptops tend to avoid using HDD storage to save battery life and ensure durability, but HDDs are often used as a cheaper alternative to solid state drives for high-capacity storage.

Solid State Drives (SSD)

SSDs don’t have moving parts, as all data recorded is done so electronically. They might be more expensive, but they are more reliable and more reliable counterpart to HDD storage. They also tend to work faster and, due to their electronic nature, produce less wear and tear over the years. The biggest issue that comes from SSDs is that they have limited capacity, and higher capacity storage will cost a pretty penny. For comparison, a budget HDD with 3 TB of storage will cost about as much as a 1 TB SSD.

What Are Your Storage Needs?

Your computer storage will ultimately depend on what kind of work you’re doing with the computer. Start by thinking about how beneficial an SSD will be. If you don’t use your PC much, then you’ll only need about 128-256 GBs of storage. If your data is stored on an office network, you might not even need that much onboard storage. If your computer is for personal use, you’ll want to invest somewhere between 512 GB and 1 TB. Depending on where you get the PC from, it might not have any influence on the overall cost of the device--at least not as much as other components might have.

A home office desktop without a centralized server or network attached storage device will probably need an additional hard drive for storage. You can use an SSD to run the operating system to improve efficiency, while using the additional HDD for storing data. A gaming PC in particular will benefit from this setup, or any PC that is heavy on its media consumption and storage.

The Verdict

An SSD is better for your primary drive, no matter what device you’re using, but it’s always helpful to have an additional hard drive for storage when you need it in a pinch. You should also try to avoid the cheapest solution out there, as there’s no reason to put your data at risk unnecessarily. Be sure to also back up your data.

For help with determining the best solution for your organization, reach out to Computerware at (703) 821-8200.

Our Comprehensive Guide to Purchasing a New Comput...
Our Comprehensive Guide to Purchasing a New Comput...


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