Hard Drives


Hard Drives

Hard drives are one of the most important components of any computer. In simple terms, they’re the bit that keeps your work files, programmes, pictures, films, and music library safely stored away. There are two types available: internal hard drives, which are fitted inside your computer, and external hard drives. The latter is especially useful for transferring data between computers, or for storing seldom used files (i.e. monthly back-ups).

Whether you’re building a new computer from scratch, updating your current PC, or just want some extra room, PriceRunner has sourced deals on well over 3000 hard drives. You’ll find models from all the well-known brands, such as Dell, Western Digital, Samsung, and SanDisk. Check out our Buying Guide above for some jargon-free, technophobe-friendly advice.

How to choose a Hard Drive

What’s an External Hard Drive?

‘Hard drive’ is the term used for the home of both internal and external storage for your computer. As your computer uses more space, it relies on a small amount of fast storage, or RAM, and a large amount of slow storage, or its internal hard drive. An external hard drive is a physical device that sits outside your computer and stores files externally. You’ll need to invest in an external hard drive if you’d like more storage space, unless you are willing to add an internal hard drive to your computer of course.


Generally you’ll pay less if you buy a hard drive with a larger storage size. Hard drives can be incredibly cheap (tens of pounds) and also incredibly expensive (thousands of pounds). The price you pay really depends on how much storage you’re after, but you might find that larger storage models actually offer better value for money.


External Hard Drives

External hard drives are a popular storage solution, offering you an easy way to move large files between different computers and locations. All hard drives are reasonably portable, but some use a USB port while other larger capacity drives may require a power adapter. External hard drives are compatible with most operating systems.

Solid State Drives

If you don't need huge amounts of storage but need something more protable than a standard external hard drive, you might prefer to invest in a Solid State Drive (SSD). Although they’re smaller than external hard drives, they’re super fast (10x hard drive speed), silent and portable as they only require power via a USB connection. With no moving parts, SSDs are less fragile than regular hard drives.


Common files that require extra storage space include programmes, games, music and films – or anything that's using high-resolution graphics. Audio and video files are the biggest, so if you know you want to store lots then it’s best to choose a hard drive with a large storage capacity and a high speed performance (RPM).

If you typically use your computer for surfing the internet, writing documents, emailing and the occasional photo upload, then you should opt for a lower capacity, inexpensive drive of around 300 GB.

If you store lots of photos, music and videos you should go for an external hard drive that can store at least between 750GB and 1TB. If you're a series fan, you could soon fill up a 2 TB drive.

If you’re a keen gamer and prefer performance over storage, go for an SSD or a 10,000 RPM-15,000 RPM drive, but these ususally come in smaller capacities.

If you require security as well as lots of space, look into a RAID setup (see RAID section lower down). In this case, RAID 10 will be your best bet: 4 hard drives working as one, providing seemless back-ups of all your data as well as fast transfer rates. The best solution of them all but also the priciest. You can achieve this with four 1 TB hard drives, for example, which will provide a total of 2 TB of usable storage. If your budget allows and you want the absolute fastest speed on the market, go for SSD drives instead. Typical transfer rates on RAID 10 with regular hard drives will be around 100 MB/s, while just one SSD can perform 5 times faster, so imagine having 4 working in unison...


Your hard drive’s performance is based on three things:

1. Rotational Speed, which is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). The fastest hard drives spin at 15,000 RPM and can be quite noisy.

2. Data Transfer Rate, which is generally higher for high RPM drives.

3. Read Seek Time – but this speed has remained fairly static for some years.

The amount of cache memory also counts, albeit less. Rule of thumb: prefer drives with higher amounts of cache memory.

Other features


Serial ATA, or SATA is a storage-interface for connecting a computer to hard drives and optical drives. The SATA host adapter is integrated into almost all modern consumer laptop computers and desktop motherboards. SATA makes for a more efficient data transfer and also makes it easier to connect multiple hard drives to a computer.


‘RAID’ (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is a technology that can increase the performance of hard drives significantly. It uses multiple hard drives at the same time, increasing speed and/or enabling the instant back-up of data, depending on which RAID mode you choose. RAID 5 is a cheap way to use 3 drives while benefitting of 2 drives' worth of storage as well as automatic back-ups; it is, however, very demanding on the hard drives and most techies will tell you to avoid like the plague due to the danger of losing drives and also due to the fact that it is very slow. Choose your RAID mode carefully, because the problem with splitting your data across multiple hard drives is that if one fails, all data will be lost. Some RAID modes let you split data (=faster), some enable automatic back-up, and others such as RAID 5 and RAID 10 do both. It all depends on what your budget is and what your priorities are: reliability, speed or both.
Many motherboards these days offer a variety of RAID modes, meaning you do not need to purchase a PCI RAID expansion card. Check what RAID modes are supported by your motherboard before buying any drives to that effect.

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