What Size Hard Drive Do You Really Need?
Written by Jeff H. Reynolds
As a computer system manufacturer and reseller of used machines, I face the question every day as to what size drive i should install in the machines. At first blush you might wonder why I would concern myself... but the reality of my business is price... that is, managing both my ultimate manufacturing/selling costs and keeping the ultimate consumer price reasonable. Sure, I could install 60 gigabyte drives in the machines and rest reasonably assured that most all of our customers will be happy but, is this necessary or appropriate?
In 1980 when the personal computer was just starting to show up in the office, hard drives were typically no larger than a few megabytes in size... and if you had a 10 mb drive it was huge!! Everyone wondered if we could possibly ever fill that drive up... it seemed an impossibility!! And then, the computer manufacturers started bringing out ever larger drives... remember when the 20 megabyte drive made its debut? What about the debut of the 500 megabyte drive... it was incredible?
Nowadays, we have electronic stores selling storage devices providing for more than a terabyte of storage capacity space... that is 1,000 gigabytes !!! And, when we are standing there looking at them on the shelves... we find ourselves asking the question again... how could we possibly ever fill that thing up?
A 200 gigabyte hard drive can now be bought for less than $150... and if you watch the sales at the discount places, you might just find one for under $100. It's just amazing!! The ever increasing size of hard drives raises the inevitable question... how large of a hard drive do I really need?
Of course the answer to this question is not simple. There are many considerations that must be addressed. First, what is the machine used for? Will it be used to store music, videos, pictures, multimedia presentations, or will the computer be used merely in the office where most everything stored will consist of nothing other than basic letters and financial information? This is an important concern as different types of media take up substantially different amounts of storage capacity. But then we must also consider what type of software will be used and how much storage space will be required for that.
In my operation, I typically explain to my customers that if the computer system is not going to be used to store music or videos, then a smaller hard drive of less than ten gigabytes will likely get them by just fine. If the machine is going to be used for a combination of purposes including some picture and music storage, I then recommend bumping up the hard drive space to no less than 20 gigabytes. But, if you are one of those guys that is going to be downloading entire music libraries onto your computer and copying your cd's and dvd's onto the computer... then things definately change. These guys are storage hogs and no less than a 60 to 100 gigabyte drive will do.
So... bottom line is this... if you are looking for a cheap and inexpensive machine to surf the web and to otherwise take care of some basic correspondance at home... then you will likely be fine with that $50 machine that has a 6 gb hard drive. However, if you are going to be storing pictures, music, and the occassional movie on the computer, you are going to need a larger hard drive. In these instances, it is important to keep in mind that most every computer can be upgraded with respect to hard drive capacity... and, it might be much cheaper to upgrade the hard drive than to buy a different machine.
I have found the following information to be useful:
Type Of File Average Pages / Gigabyte
Microsoft Word Files 64,750
Microsoft Excel Files 100,000
Microsoft Power Point Files 17,500
Email Files 100,000
Text Files 677,750
Image Files 15,250
** The foregoing numbers are only estimates.