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How to choose a solid state drive and hard drive for a PC

The Internet is your main hard drive

We like to think of the Internet as our main storage device. The days of buying a ton of software and installing everything on our PC's hard drive are over. Almost everything one does today is a click away on the Internet without having to install anything. Also, with the advent of cloud computing this trend looks to continue. Our local storage needs on our PC should therefore be going down.

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Audio, video and picture files are large

hard drive

On the other hand digital audio, video and pictures are large files and now mainstream. We might want to build our own multimedia library. So getting a large drive isn't a bad idea. However, given our introduction and the fact that unused hard drive capacity does nothing for our computer's performance, money can be saved by buying the right size storage capacity. This saving can be spent on other PC parts including a solid state drive (SSD) that does increase our computer's performance.

Size of the solid state drive and hard drive

The prices of solid state drives have been coming down and now it's time an SSD should be your first storage device. An SSD is so much faster than a hard drive you will notice a significant difference in boot times and responsiveness of your PC. The size of SSD we recommend currently is 250 GB due to the cost, otherwise we would recommend a larger size. If you need more storage add a 1 TB (1000 GB) hard drive in addition to the SSD. When you have both a SSD and a hard drive the operating system should reside on the SSD so you get the benefit of a fast boot up time, while your data storage needs are met by the larger hard drive. One can always add more SSDs or hard drives later, if ever needed.

Quality and speed of the SSD and hard drive

Quality of the storage device is clearly important, use a manufacturer with a reputation for quality. The jump up in speed from a hard drive to an SSD is more significant than the speed differences within SSDs.

M.2 form factor SSDs

Instead of a 2.5 inch form factor or size SSD, consider an M.2 form factor SSD if your motherboard has an M.2 slot. These M.2 SSDs can run, again depending on the motherboard, at PCI Express x4 speeds under the new NVMe protocol instead of the AHCI protocol which will be an incredible speed increase for your PC. These PCI Express NVMe SSDs are more expensive than AHCI SSDs so that extra cost will have to be considered as well.


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