A good storage solution is essential to any computer, as it affects a system's speed, noise and heat output. Plus, since it'll be storing all your personal files, it's a component that shouldn't be overlooked!

By Pierre-Jean Alzieu
 
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The first key question when choosing an internal drive is whether to opt for a classic hard drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive SSD. Mechanical hard drives have higher storage capacities than SSDs and, in spite of a recent rise in prices, the price per GB is still lower in HDDs than SSDs. SSDs, on the other hand, are faster, which can speed up your whole computer system, and they're also quieter. They're much more resistant to being dropped or knocked too. Their 2.5-inch format makes them ideal for use is both desktop PCs and laptops (which are usually equipped with relatively slow hard drives).

Ideally, we'd recommend using a mix of the two types of technology—a decent-sized SSD (128 GB, for example) for your system and most frequently used applications, alongside a 'Green' edition HDD with low noise levels for storing multimedia files (photos, videos, etc.)

Here are a few things to look out for when shopping for an internal storage solution.

- Performances. This can be quite confusing. You can obviously look at the read speeds and write speeds (in Megabytes per second, MBps), but access times are important too. For hard drives, this is usually given in milliseconds (ms), while for SSDs, which are much faster in this field (up to 150 times, in fact!), it's more common to see the number of operations per second in read or write mode (input and output operations per second). The thing to bear in mind is that for most general users, 'read speeds' are more important. Plus, most SSDs will be pretty much equivalent for day-to-day use.

- Storage capacity. Storage capacities are given in Gigabytes (GB) or Terabytes (1 TB = 1000 GB) and are generally the first thing people look for. These numbers tell you the amount of data that can be stored on the drive. Hard disks do better than SSDs on this front, with up to 3 TB of memory compared with a maximum of 512 GB for SSDs. An SSD will also be more expensive than an HDD of equivalent size.

- Noise. SSDs are very quiet. Noise output from HDDs varies but, generally, the higher a drive's performances, the noisier it'll be. For a system drive, we'd look for a 7200 RPM spin speed, while for a secondary HDD for storage, we'd go for a 5400/5900 RPM model. The spin speed determines a drive's basic noise level, which will then get louder when the drive accesses data.

- Reliability. Unfortunately, there's no way of telling how reliable a drive will be. Some people say that SSDs aren't as reliable as regular hard drives, but as far as we're concerned, SSDs are perfectly reliable, and often more so than HDDs! They can resist drops and falls too. Whichever drive you pick though, make sure you back up any important files!
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