How to Select Internal Hard Drives
Computers use internal hard drives to store their operating system files and user data. Because computers constantly access these drives to read and write information, the speed, capacity, and type of drive have a great impact on computer performance. Many computers have more than one drive, a feature that increases storage space and helps reduce overall drive accessing time.
Computer Hard Drive Types
There are two types of hard drives—mechanical drives with a spinning disc, and solid state, or SSD hard drives. Mechanical hard drives are reliable, and available with storage capacities up to 10TB. There are several types, so check which your motherboard supports. Newer computers use SATA hard drives, while older models may use IDE or PATA internal hard drives. Mechanical hard drives with high spin speeds have quicker read and write times than slower drives. SSDs have fast read and write times, and they're ideal as a primary option. They're reliable, although more expensive than equivalent-capacity mechanical hard drives. SSD capacities vary from 32GB to multiple terabytes.
Preparing for Hard Drive Replacement
You can avoid losing data when you replace drives or upgrade to SSDs by using hard drive duplicators to clone your drives. Some duplicators clone one drive at a time, while others have the ability to clone multiple drives, a feature often used by IT departments when installing software on numerous computers.
Choosing Internal Hard Drives
Hard drives have different form factors. Laptop hard drives and most SSDs are 2.5 inches wide, while desktop computers primarily use 3.5-inch hard drives. Additionally, some laptops use the smaller mSATA form factor SSD, which is about the size of a business card, or the M.2 SSD, which is even smaller. Apart from a different physical size, power and data connectors may differ, so it's important to check compatibility.
Hard Drive Accessories
To replace a 3.5-inch disc drive with a smaller 2.5-inch SSD, you may need an internal hard drive cage or adapter, to fit the smaller drive into the location of the old drive. A similar situation exists if replacing 2.5-inch SSDs with mSATA SSDs or M.2 SSDs. Also, depending on your motherboard's capabilities, you may need other connections such as SATA cables, power cable adapters, and IDE bridge boards.
Linking Multiple Hard Drives
Windows OS allows you to link multiple hard drives so that they operate as a continuous drive. You can expand storage capability, which is especially important with old hard drives that are too small. Another method is a RAID utility used with hard drive enclosures and docks to link several hard drives together. Other possibilities include fitting internal hard drives inside external docks and hard cases, and using these as external USB drives.
Check out the various hard drive combinations at B&H Photo and Video and upgrade your computer for better performance and increased storage.