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Choosing Step 5

Hard Disk Drive

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The Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is where all the data in a computer is stored when not in use by the processor. Unlike memory, data stored on a HDD remains intact when the computer is turned off. All the programs, documents, photos, videos, music etc that you keep on your computer are stored on the HDD and loaded into memory when you begin using them.

Choosing a Hard Drive is relatively simple and is usually based of 2 factors, size and speed. The size of the drive you choose will be primarily based on your personal needs, but for most people a drive not less than 160GB is a good starting point.

Speed is made up of a few factors, rotations per minute, cache and connection type. However for the vast majority of people a 7200rpm drive that connects via a SATA port will be the best option, leaving you simple to decide on the amount of cache you need (8MB, 16MB or 32MB). As explained below you will see very little difference in terms of performance once above 16MB.

If you are building a very high performance PC you may want to consider 10000rpm drives, though the price to performance level is relatively low. You may also consider RAID as a way of improving either performance or reliability of your storage. If you have the budget for it, RAID can also provide both reliability and performance improvements on the same storage. For more info on RAID, see our RAID choosing guide.


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