Hard Drive Selection
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Perhaps the biggest mistake people make when building their computer(s) is to underestimate the importance of the hard disk drive (HDD). In our modern society, bigger is synonymous with better, so when you go to buy a hard drive you look at how "big" it is, its data capacity. But is that all you should be considering when buying your hard drive?
Like every other component of your computer, the HDD is far too complex a system to describe in any sort of detail here, but hopefully by the end of this article you will know what to look for when you go to buy your new hard drive.
There are 4 primary aspects to look at in a hard drive (in order of importance):
Rotational frequency and average seek time
Internal/external transfer rates
Rotational frequency has become a large selling point (5400/7200/10000/15000RPM) recently, so you shouldn't have too much difficulty finding out what the rotational frequency of your HDD is when you go to buy it. Now of course the faster it spins, the faster it can read from the disk (there are other advantages also), but be aware that the faster it spins, the more wear is put on the drive, and the more likely it is to encounter errors and malfunctions later in life. Hard drives are pretty much the only systems within your computer that have moving parts (CD-ROM, floppy disk drives, and fans also have moving parts, but they're all cheap and if they break you won't lose all the data you've accumulated over the course of owning your computer, be sure to back up your data regularly!). If you know anything about physics or engineering, then you know that moving parts produce friction and wear, and a faster spinning platter (the part that holds the data and spins) means more friction, and therefore more wear on your drive. Of course the faster it spins the faster it can read data from the platter. So what can you do? well again you backup your data as much as possible and you get the fastest spinning drive money can buy (which is 7200RPM for ATA devices (the sort you are buying) and 15000RPM for SCSI and some Serial ATA devices (you might get Serial ATA, that depends on your motherboard)). So look for a "7200RPM" label on the drive you're thinking of getting, it's important!
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