Feeds

Buy Smarter: what you need to know about... HDDs

Bulk storage for your computer

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Buyer's Guide Despite advances in other kinds of storage, hard drives are the backbone of the vast majority of desktops and notebooks.

And they are still the most cost-effective way of adding extra storage capacity to an older machine. They are cheap to buy, easy to use and remarkably robust in service.

Typical warranties run from three to five years and, if that’s running continuously, as it could easily be for a drive in a server, that equates to more than 40,000 hours of use.

Compare that service life with that of a typical projector lamp, at around 2,000 hours, or of an electric drill, rumoured to be less than 20 hours.

While the prices of hard drives continue to fall, their capacity goes on climbing, so the overall cost per gigabyte is getting lower and lower.

A 2TB drive, for example, can be had for about £70, a cost of 3.5p per gigabyte. Compare that with a rewritable DVD at around 9p per gigabyte, or a Blu-ray disc at about 29p. Memory sticks and cards can only manage 38p or so, at best.

Watch Video

Drive types

There are two drive form-factors in common use: 3.5in, normally reserved for desktops and servers, and 2.5in for notebooks. You can also buy 1.8in drives, which are mostly for specialist applications such as some media players.

Most hard drives now use Sata to connect to the host computer, although IDE devices are available, mainly for older machines.

The advantage of Sata devices is a simple data connection: a small, seven-core cable rather than a 40-wire ribbon.

Notebook IDE drives use a 44-wire ribbon, with the extra connectors providing 5V power. Before buying an internal drive, don’t forget to determine which type of interface is used by the device you are buying the drive for.

External hard drives may be 3.5in or 2.5in, but they are housed in robust cases and generally connect by USB, or less commonly Firewire or eSata (external Sata). They can be Sata or IDE inside the case, but this will be transparent in use.

The 3.5in external drives need separate power, either from a supply inside the drive case or from a separate block, normally supplied with the drive.

External 2.5-in drives can often draw all the power they need from the same USB connection they use for data, and are therefore more convenient. That, plus their smaller size, has made them the standard for portable drives.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Next page: Drive Capacities

More from The Register

next story
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
A SCORCHIO fatboy SSD: Samsung SSD850 PRO 3D V-NAND
4Gb/s speeds on a consumer drive, anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.