What Sizes Do Hard Drives Come in?

By Heather Marlman

To select a hard drive, first determine the amount of storage space you require for your needs. The type of hard drive that best fits your computer configuration will also narrow your options. Establishing your needs and comparing price breaking points should make selecting a hard drive easier.


The primary function of a hard drive is for the storage of information. Primary hard drives not only store personal files, but also contain critical operating system information that allows your computer to function. Secondary hard drives also can be used in conjunction with a primary hard drive to provide additional storage for personal files including text, images, audio and video.


Hard drives come in a variety of different types, but can primarily be classified as either internal or external. Internal hard drives are connected to your computer using data transfer cables, which are attached directly to the motherboard of the computer system. Internal hard drives are generally primary drives and hold operating system information, as well as personal files. External hard drives are typically connected via USB or fire wire cable into an available port located in the back of your computer. External drives primarily serve the purpose of storing personal files and providing back-up services for the primary hard drive. In some cases, external drives may also include a separate operating system for your computer.


The physical dimensions of internal hard drives are standardized to fit in drive bays located within the computer case. However, physical dimensions of external hard drives can vary depending on the manufacturer. Storage capacities for both internal and external hard drives can vary from 80 gigabytes of storage to as many as four terabytes. Although the range in storage capabilities is so extreme, the most common drives purchased fall between 500 gigabytes and two terabytes.


The benefits of upgrading an existing hard drive, or adding a secondary hard drive to your computer system, is the increased ability for storage and back-up capabilities. By using multiple hard drives, information on the primary hard drive can be kept secure in case of system failure. Another benefit is that larger hard drive storage capacities have become more economical as technology has advanced. Current pricing for a hard drive providing one terabyte, or one thousand gigabytes, of storage falls under the $100 price point, making it an economical addition to your computer system.


As technology continues to advance, storage capacities on hard drives will continue to become larger. Likewise, the price points for these storage capacities will continue to drop. Although four terabyte drives are available, they presently aren't an economical choice for many computer users. This will likely change as the landscape of computer use continues to evolve. With the increased usage of digital images and video, which consume large amounts of file space, the need for larger capacity hard drives will continue to grow.

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