Buying a Hard Drive on eBay

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Buying a Hard Drive on eBay
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Hello fellow eBay Junkies!
Well if you review my purchases on eBay you will see that very many of them are hard drives and on a couple I made simple mistakes that should have been avoided by me.
     First off, READ the decriptions.  Just because its a good price doesnt mean it's junk.  It could be someone that just upgraded to the latest and greatest technology and just wanted rid of their outdated hardware, but just in case, READ it.  Make sure the seller GUARANTEES that it will not be DOA (Dead On Arrival)  Or else you will get a hard drive that a true geek with an extra HD chassis could put back together, but for most users it would be a big ugly paperweight that makes a lot of clicking sounds when you put power to it.
     Secondly, make sure the hard drive it a type you can use.  There are a few different hookups on a motherboard. SATA, SATA II, IDE, SCSI, SCSI II, just to name the main ones.  For most computers from 1995-2003 you will mostly use IDE connections.  This is a wide gray cable with 40 pins.  Newer systems (2003-present) have IDE ports and SATA ports (SATA and SATA II connectors are little black rectangles less than an inch wide and about 1/8 of an inch tall)  If you are like me and have a latest Generation DELL, then you only have ONE IDE port on the motherboard which is used for both of your CD/DVD-ROM drives, so buying another IDE drive means you have to disconnect one of these drives, so buying a SATA or SATA II would be your best bet.  You can buy a SATA or SATA II without fear of which type of SATA port you have because the new standard will work with the old SATA's.
(Left = IDE Cable <Rt = SATA>)

SCSI you should avoid unless you are a professional and know what it is because chances are, you do NOT have a port for it (it was and is used in servers, not in desktops because of its reliability)
    Thirdly, WHY are you buying another hard drive?  Did yours die? Looking for more space?  More speed? Or to make sure your system stays stable?  Whatever your needs, make sure you get a drive that meets your desires.  Speed is measured in ms, transfer speed, and in cache/buffer.  ms is access time (how long it will take to find the information on the drive 4ms, 8ms, 10ms, 12ms are your normal ranges depending on technology), transfer speed is how fast it can pull the data off of the drive once it finds it (IDE runs at 33/66/100/133Mb/s(depending on technology and your motherboard), SATA is 150Mb/s, SATA2 is 300Mb/s), and the cache/buffer allows write speeds to be faster (not sure exactly how, but bigger is better)
   Fourth, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR DISC's! If you have to reinstall your operating system, your office software, any antivirus programs, etc, make sure you have all of your CD's, all of your serial numbers, and all of the drivers you will need to at least get the system online where you can find the drivers you do not have.  If you do not, then you are in for a LONG time trying to get your system back to life, and possibly paying someone else to do it for you.
   If you get a SATA/SATA2 drive, then you have a choice to make as well.  RAID's.  You have read or heard about them maybe and I know Im getting long winded here so let me put it the quick way and hit the main two.  RAID 0 : You take two similar or exact same SATA drives and 'stripe' the data between the two so that you double your access and transfer speeds.  What this means is that you keep most of your space on the two drives (two 80GB's come out to about 150GB), but your slow loading games will spool up faster.  In game you will barely notice a difference, but in between levels or when you switch areas, you will blow your group out of the water.  The downside is that when one drive fails, all data is lost because half of the data is on that drive and half of it is on the other, so make frequent backups of any important images, videos, or resumes on your computer to CD or a flash drive.  RAID 1 is the other option.  This is called mirroring and does just that.  Drive A will be exactly the same data as Drive B, if one fails, no big deal because you have the information perfectly replicated on the other drive and everything will keep running flawlessly.  the downside is that you get NO performance gain, and you only get the capacity of the smallest drive in the RAID (two 80GB drives = 80GB of space : an 80GB and a 250GB drive will yield 80GB of space as it cannot mirror the remaining space)  But this gives you redundancy.  Typically only servers use RAID1, but I guess if you really need your data or it's a business computer I can understand  the need for it.
   Please, if you feel something is missing from this guide, let me know so I can add it!  Thanks and I hope this helps anyone who crosses it!

VBKarkass (Lewis Wheeler: Network Administrator and Gamer)  
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