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FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions] About Internal Hard Drives for Laptops

When you first buy a laptop, you tend to think that running out of storage space will never be a concern. But then the photos pile up, and the videos, plus the music collection and all those memory-consuming programs. Before you know it, that hard drive capacity is pushed right up to its brink and you're pondering what you'll have to delete. You can avoid sacrificing those precious photos, or anything else for that matter, by installing a new internal hard drive and thus expanding your digital real estate. Let's answer some common questions about upgrading your laptop's internal hard drive.

What is a laptop internal hard drive?

An internal hard drive is built directly into your laptop and attached to the computer's motherboard. It can be used to expand your laptop's memory or completely replace it. The hard drive's attachment to the computer is via an interface, usually what's called Serial ATA (SATA), a popular interface for its speed and easy installation. There are different generations of SATA interfaces, with SATA III being the newest and fastest at 600Mb/s (6Gb/s) for data transfers. The original SATA interface runs transfer speeds up to 150Mb/s (1.5Gb/s).

What size capacity hard drive do I need?

Hard drive storage capacity is likely the main reason you're shopping for an internal hard drive for your laptop, but how much space you need depends on your needs. A hard drive between 500MB and 1TB will give you plenty of breathing room for all kinds of media, programs and documents. But if you're a hardcore shutterbug constantly filling up memory with high resolution photos, or perhaps a video enthusiast who does editing and sound recordings, then you're going want a hard drive between 1TB and 2TB for all that heavy digital lifting.

What speed of internal hard drive best suits me?

Hard drive speed influences how fast your computer can retrieve and write data. For instance, saving a large file is going to take longer with a hard drive rotation speed of 5400rpm (rotations per minute) than with a 7200rpm. Of course, faster generally means more expansive, so be prepared to dish out for the speed advantage. For those with more intensive computer needs, like gaming, a 10000rpm internal hard drive is ideal.

What kind of internal hard drive will fit in my laptop?

The vast majority of laptops can fit a 2.5" internal hard drive, but some are a little bigger at 3.5". The form factor doesn't affect the hard drive's performance. Just make sure you know what your laptop is compatible with, size-wise, before buying an internal hard drive and enjoying the added digital closet space.