Storage Buying Guide

Storage has one of the biggest impacts by far on the “user experience“ of using a computer with significant differences in storage options. Older computers almost exclusively had Hard Disk Drives (HDD) which are still available today and one of the cheapest ways to buy large capacity storage. More common in newer and faster computers is Solid State Disk (SSD) which have no moving parts and almost instant access… think a USB memory stick but on steroids. SSDs are so much faster than HDDs but they are also more expensive. Looking at a new computer that boots up in under 10 seconds – it’s likely using an SSD drive. Take an old 2nd or 3rd generation i5 computer and put an SSD in it and it’s like night and day… the computer starts faster, programs load faster and everything is that much more responsive (it fees like brand new!). With a 240G SSD costing about the same as a 1,000GB HDD this performance improvement does come at a cost penalty, but we think you’ll appreciate the difference. If you need lots of storage you can buy a larger SSD, or you can combine a smaller SSD (for Windows and program files) and install a second large capacity HDD for your data. While we say that an SSD does vastly improve the user experience (how fast the PC feels) when it comes to things like gaming, once a game actually loads and game-play starts there’s almost no difference to the gaming experience between an SSD or an HDD… so the storage option or combinations you buy and at what capacities very much depends on what you’re going to use it for, your budget and what factors are most important to you.

While we don’t like to talk about failures – HDD are a spinning mechanical component that will eventually die at some point in the future. While neither SSD nor HDD will live forever, the SSD will typically be much more reliable and provide a longer life, especially when considering that the majority of SSD we use are brand new (part of the refurbishment process) and most of the HDD we get are previously used. While we test all HDD for predictive failure analysis and drive integrity, we cannot provide any guarantee on lifetime or reliability. We offer our 90 day and 12 month warranty extension options on both HDD and SSD, but even a warranty replacement doesn’t compensate for the frustration and hassle of losing your data and having to restore your system.

Our recommendations:

  • Basic home/office use – go for a 240G SSD, more than enough for typical use, you'll appreciate the performance boost.
  • Heavy use/large files – go for a 500G SSD, it’ll give you extra spare capacity to work with, add a secondary HDD if required.
  • Budget gaming – a HDD will save you money (if budget is tight), but add a 120G or 240G SSD if you can.