Top 5 Tips for Buying a Hard Drive

“loverstink85” from our chat room recently purchased a 1TB hard drive and wanted to share his experience with the rest of the community. He lives in the Philippines and is just 13 years old. He’s been subscribed to our YouTube channel since 2007, too. When I was that old, I don’t think hard drives were even available on the mass market. No matter, here’s his “guest blog post” wisdom on buying hard drives:

Compatibility. If you’re buying a hard drive, make sure your computer supports that kind of hard drive. If your computer is about 8 years old, it probably still uses the EIDE/PATA interface. But if your computer is almost 5 years old (like mine), it might include the first generation SATA interface (SATA150). If you just recently purchased your computer, it should have the second generation SATA interface (SATA300). SATA300 is backwards-compatible with SATA150. Some motherboard chipsets that have the SATA150 interface (namely the VIA and SIS chipsets: VT8237, VT8237R, VT6420, VT6421L, SIS760, SIS964 found on some ECS motherboards) don’t support SATA300 drives. So, the hard drive companies addressed these problems by putting a jumper on their drives which will force them to use the SATA150 speed. The same applies for laptops. Laptops also have SATA and/or IDE interfaces in them.

Capacity and Speed. A lot of people think that when you’re gonna buy a hard drive, you should always get the highest capacity available in the market. That is wrong. If you’re gonna buy a hard drive, make sure its capacity is not too big OR too small. Its speed is a bigger factor. Make sure you are going to buy a hard drive with at least 7200RPM spindle speed (for desktops). If you are just gonna use the hard drive for media centers or just basic file storage, 5400RPM is enough. And some hard drives at 5400RPM beat some 7200RPM hard drives according to benchmarks. For laptops, you have to be aware that heat is a factor, so a slower spinning hard drive may be advised.

Brand / Reliability. I have an 80 GB IDE Western Digital drive which came bundled with the PC I purchased in 2005. It is still running well, but I need more space. Make sure your hard drive has the most features in it that you believe will (or has been proven to) improve reliability. And the brand doesn’t matter in my opinion. All companies make mistakes and great products so don’t go buying a Seagate just because you have been a Seagate fan for years.

Power consumption. Western Digital has just released a hard drive family called the GreenPower hard drives, which they say are eco-friendly, cool and quiet. By just reading the family name, we’re lead to believe that they will have low power consumption. According to Western Digital, by putting a GreenPower hard drive in your machine, it’s just like taking your car off the road for 14 days in one year. Make sure your power supply will support the power requirements of ANY hard drive, though.

User opinions. You should also read user opinions. I have been thankful for my peers – because without them, i could have purchased the Seagate hard drives which have a firmware bug in them which causes the hard drive head to bump and click when going into power saving mode. Apparently, these drives have buggy firmware and Seagate still doesn’t have a official fix for this. You can look for user reviews by looking at unboxing videos on YouTube or product comments on e-commerce sites, etc. (or by looking at some technical forums and blogs).