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When deciding about what hard drive you want to put in your computer, the following things come to mind:
- SCSI, IDE, SATA, and RAID
SCSI, IDE, SATA, and RAID
SCSI stands for Small Computer System Interface and is basically the fastest type of hard drive on the market. But there are a couple of downsides to SCSI: Expense and the size of drives. IDE stands for Integrated Device Electronics and is the most common type of hard drive that you’ll find in a desktop computer today. Generally either 5400RPM or 7200RPM, IDE drives are slower than SCSI but are much cheaper and provide much higher capacity drives. SATA (Serial ATA) is the newest revision of the ATA standard and allows for up to 150Mb/s transfers to/from hard drives. SATA drives are usually 7200RPM or 10000RPM and provide the same high capacity storage as IDE drives (7200RPM versions). RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks and is essentially using multiple identical hard drives to act as one very fast hard drive, create exact copies of the same data onto both drives, or a combination of the two with 4 drives.
When it comes to the reliability of a drive, Seagate is world renowned. Maxtor is a good choice, followed by Western Digital, and finally the people who make hard drives that are more like RAM, IBM.
The size of a drive is a pretty large (excuse the pun) deciding factor when I go to purchase a hard drive. It seems as if there is a ‘sweet spot’ where the amount of money per Gigabyte ($/GB) is lowest (best). At the time of writing, that sweet spot seems to be at around 120GB. Most 120GB drives are below $120 dropping the $/GB ratio below $1.00 / GB – which is a good rate. I wouldn’t recommend buying anything below an 80GB drive right now; the main reason being that a lot of game/application/OS installs these days are pushing 2-3GB and with 20-30 total, you have a full hard drive.
Hard drive speed is determined by several factors. What type of drive it is, how fast is spins (RPMs), and what kind of seek time it has all contribute to the speed of a drive. A slow drive is an IDE 5400RPM drive with a seek time of above 12ms. A very fast drive would be a SCSI U320 15000RPM drive with a seek time of about 3.4ms. But of course, the faster the drive, the expense goes up and you generally have to settle for a smaller size. SATA drives that are coming out today range from 7200RPM to 10000RPM and allow for bandwidth up to 150Mb/s. But yet, the most common type of drive is a normal IDE 7200RPM drive with a seek time of about 8-9ms.
Warranties on hard drives have plummeted over the past year or so. Maxtor, Seagate, and Western Digital all now have 1 year warranties on their IDE drives. Seagate has a 5-year warranty on their SCSI drives. Western Digital has a 5 year warranty on their Raptor series of SATA drives.
Current popular hard drives: