How to Buy a Hard Drive

Introduction

Hard Drive Buying Guide graphic

Your PC's internal hard drive is a real workhorse--the most critical component of your system after the CPU and memory. The hard drive is the hub where your operating system, programs, and data are permanently stored and accessed.

If you edit movies, take lots of digital photos, play games, or listen to music files on your PC, a big, fast internal Parallel or Serial ATA hard drive can dramatically improve your overall computing experience. If you need more storage or a means to back up your PC's internal drives, you can add an external hard drive--available in USB 2.0, FireWire 400 or 800, or external SATA flavors. And if you want centralized storage, consider buying a network-attached storage device. NAS devices are continually improving, and can be a convenient way to add storage that all of the PCs on your small or home network can share.

The Big Picture
To enjoy multimedia on your PC, you need a spacious hard drive. Here's how to shop like a pro for an internal or external drive. more

Key Features
Don't know capacity from rotational speed, or IDE from SATA? We define the terms you're likely to see when shopping for a hard drive, and we tell you which specs are the most important ones to consider. more

Hard-Drive Shopping Tips
If you outgrow your existing storage, it can be easier and cheaper to upgrade a drive than to buy an entirely new PC. When you're ready to start looking, print out these tips for handy reference. more

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