Which internal hard drive is best?

Think of an internal hard drive as both the mind and heart of your computer. It stores all your data, all your software and, most importantly, your operating system. You can replace any other broken component as if nothing happened. If you lose your internal hard drive, you’re toast.

Whether you plan on replacing, upgrading or simply backing up your main drive, you should consider the Seagate IronWolf Internal Hard Disk Drive. It comes in a wide range of storage sizes and is built with durability as its central focus.

What to know before you buy an internal hard drive

Hard disk drives vs. solid-state drives

Hard disk and solid-state internal hard drives each have their own pros and cons.

  • HDDs were the first type of hard drive. They use a variety of moving parts to read and write data. Because of these moving parts, HDDs are far more prone to damage over time. They also use magnetic parts, meaning contact with a strong enough magnet can destroy it. However, they can be shockingly cheap — even at high storage capacities.
  • SSDs are a more recent invention. They use no moving or magnetic parts — this improves their durability and more than doubles their read and write speeds in some cases. The only negative is their high cost. In many cases, an SSD costs double a comparable HDD.
  • Hybrid drives combine elements of each. They have the large storage capacity of HDDs with small amounts of SSD storage for frequently accessed data.

Capacity

Capacity refers to how much data an internal hard drive can store. The more data offered, the higher the cost of the drive. Old drives only had a few hundred megabytes of storage. Modern drives have sizes between a few hundred gigabytes and a dozen terabytes. It’s also important to know that 1,024MB equals 1GB and 1,024GB equals 1TB.

Connection type

An internal hard drive is usually designed to connect to your motherboard rather than via USB like an external hard drive. Most use SATA or IDE connections.

What to look for in a quality internal hard drive

Speed

Speed refers to how much data can be written or read from an internal hard drive in a single second. An HDDs speed is directly related to how fast its internal disk spins. An average HDD spins at a rate of 7,200 revolutions per minute, which roughly translates to read and write speeds of 250 megabytes per second. Average SSDs have read and write speeds of 500Mbps — some can hit 1Gbps.

Cache

Internal hard drives have a cache that functions similarly to a computer’s random-access memory. The larger the cache (and RAM), the faster your hard drive will be able to read and write.

How much you can expect to spend on an internal hard drive

Most midrange internal hard drives cost $100-$200. Some low-end drives can cost $50 or less. If you want the best you’ll likely spend closer to $300 or more.

Internal hard drive FAQ

What kind of internal hard drive do I really need?

A. If you only store documents and small files like pictures you shouldn’t need much more than a cheap HDD with a few hundred gigabytes of storage. If you want to store large files like home videos or full movies you should consider an HDD with a terabyte or two of storage. Professionals will likely want a few terabytes of storage too, and they may want to consider an SSD rather than HDD. Gamers should grab an SSD with a minimum of 2TB of storage, though preferably more.

What is NAS compatibility?

A. NAS stands for network-attached storage. Essentially, this means the internal hard drive in question is built to be left on and accessible by anyone on its network — 24/7. Most hard drives aren’t designed to be left on like this — they’ll overheat or become damaged in other ways. For example, the cloud most data is stored on today is actually made of a vast network of NAS hard drives kept in storage facilities all over the world. Unless you want to build a similar type of network for your home and office, you don’t need to worry about NAS-compatible hard drives.

What’s the best internal hard drive to buy?

Top internal hard drive

Seagate IronWolf Internal Hard Disk Drive

Seagate IronWolf Internal Hard Disk Drive

What you need to know: This drive is built to last.

What you’ll love: It comes in 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12- and 16-terabyte capacities. It has incredibly high durability — it’s built specifically for NAS environments. It uses SATA connection and includes a companion app.

What you should consider: Its maximum read and write speed is only 180Mbps, and its cache is only 64MB. It’s also a little noisy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top internal hard drive for the money

Western Digital Black Performance Internal Hard Disk Drive

Western Digital Black Performance Internal Hard Disk Drive

What you need to know: This budget pick has plenty of storage space.

What you’ll love: It comes in 500-gigabyte, 1-, 2-, 4-, 6-, 8- and 10-terabyte capacities. It’s compatible with both Apple and Windows operating systems. It has a five-year limited warranty. It has 7,200 rpm and a read and write speed of up to 250Mbps.

What you should consider: Some consumers reported a loud clicking sound while the drive was in use. Others had problems with the drive continually disconnecting from their system.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Samsung 870 EVO Internal Solid State Drive

Samsung 870 EVO Internal Solid State Drive

What you need to know: This is the best internal drive you can buy — if you have the money.

What you’ll love: It’s available in 250GB and 500GB as well as 1-, 2- and 4-terabyte capacities. It uses SATA connection and is NAS compatible. It has a maximum read and write speed of 560Mbps and 530Mbps, respectively. 

What you should consider: Most storage amounts cost double what a matching HDD costs. Some storage options have more value than others. It draws a considerable amount of power. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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