Hard Drives — How much is enough?

Since 2005, there has been a boom in large hard drives. Today, you’ll probably have trouble finding a retail computer in the store with less than a 160GB hard drive. I can still remember the world of 102MB hard drives, but those days are gone. Price have dropped dramatically and continue to drop every month. With all the large hard drives on the market, how much is enough?

There are only a select few who really need a large hard drive. I have a 160GB hard drive and have over 70GB of free space. Granted, I have 2 Linux distros and Windows XP installed in different partitions, but my data parition only has about 40GB on it. Both my parents have at most a 40GB drive and 50% free space. My nephew only has a 10GB drive and is constantly removing programs, but all he does is play games and does school stuff.

So who needs those large drives and what are they using them for? Pretty much, only video production and data centers need anything larger than 160GB. Video production can take up a lot of real estate on your hard drive. A 2 hour video final product can have more than 12 hours of footage. That’s 4GB for the DVD image file, and about 2GB per hour of raw footage, multiply that by 4 if HD is involved. That’s 28GB!

So, how much do you really need? Well, if you’re not going to do video production or run a data center, you’ll be fine with 160GB. If you are doing video production, you’ll need a very large drive, probably 250GB or 500GB. Drives are so cheap that you can find a 500GB for less than double the price of the 250GB.

Size is not the only thing that matters with hard drives. The speed of the drive and the speed of the interface factor into the speed of the computer overall. Most drives spin at 7200 RPMs, some are at 10000 RPMs. Also the old interface, IDE, runs slower than the new interface, SATA. The difference between IDE, 0.133Gb/s, and SATA, 1.5Gb/s – 3.0Gb/s, is astronimical. SATA II being the latest and fastest interface, 3Gb/s. Keep that in mind when getting a new computer/hard drive.