What is a Hard Drive?

If you’re building a custom PC, then one of the most important choices to make is what kind of hard drive you’re going to pick. The hard drive is of course where you store your files and the size of this drive/space available is of course therefore going to determine just how many files you can carry around on your computer at once.

If you are the sort of person who loves downloading movies and playing games, then you’ll want lots of hard drive space to ensure you don’t have to keep deleting things.

At the same time though, it’s also important to recognize that your hard drive is going to impact on the performance of your computer. This is something that a lot of people don’t realize but it makes sense once you think about it…

Let’s take a look at just why hard drives are so integral to the speed and performance of your machine and at how to choose the right one for your particular requirements…

How Hard Drives Affect Performance

When your computer runs any piece of software, chances are that this software is going to be installed on your machine. That means that when it first boots up, your computer needs to load the relevant files and speak with the software by referencing the hard drive.

At the same time though, your hard drive is also crucial because it will contain most of the files you work with and load. If you do something like video editing, then this becomes very important.

A fast hard drive thus leads to your software loading more quickly and files being quickly to load and edit.

Types of Hard Drive

With all that said then, we can see that the right hard drive is crucial for optimal PC performance. The next question then is how do you choose the right option for your machine?

The first differentiating factor between different hard drives is the type of drive you’re looking at. The conventional type of hard drive and the one that has been around the longest is the ‘disk-type’ drive. This is where the term ‘hard disk’ comes from in fact.

You’ll know ifADATA-USA-Premier-SP550-240GB-25-SATA-III-Solid-State-Drive-ASP550SS3-240GM-C-0 you have a disk drive because it will make a whirring noise when your computer boots up, much like a CR ROM. There’s literally a spinning disk in here, just the same as in your DVD player (or more accurately, a stack of disks). These disks can spin at incredibly high speeds of 7,200 RPM for a SATA or EIDE drive and 10,000 for a SCSI drive.

The advantage of this kind of drive is that it can be much bigger without breaking the bank. You can easily get a terabyte of data or more here and it won’t drastically increase the cost of your PC. The downside is that they tend to be power hungry and also a little slower compared with SSD drives. And worse, they are sensitive to shock which renders them useless for mobile technology.

The other type of drive then is an SSD hard drive. This stands for ‘solid state disk’ and essentially describes a hard drive that works a lot like your regular SD cards. It’s called ‘solid state’ because it doesn’t have any moving parts and instead stead uses NAND-based flash memory like a USB pen. These drives are completely resilient to shock and also require no time to ‘spin up’ – making them much better for rapidly loading files and whole operating systems when a computer boots up. Some machines come with hybrid drives that use both types.


Ultimately though, if you have a desktop then mobility won’t matter. Thus, all that really matters is you performance and size. And seeing as size will always be expandable, that makes performance probably the main concern.

Something that can greatly speed up performance is to get a model with a large cache. This won’t cost you much more and it means that some information can be set aside for quicker access.

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