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Top 10 Things to Look Out for When Choosing Your Next Hard Disk

You can’t just rush out and buy the most expensive hard disk and expect it to be the best at fulfilling all your needs. Different hard disks are designed for different uses and if you buy the wrong one you’ll either waste a lot of money or find that it simply won’t work with your chosen task. Here we list the top 10 things to look out for when you buy a new hard disk, whether it’s for a laptop, desktop, Networked Attached Storage (NAS) device or a server in a data center.

1. Capacity

Ten years ago, digital pictures took up less than a megabyte. Now a camera phone can produce single images that are well over 10MB each. With the amount of pictures that we take in this day and age – and the amount we receive – that all adds up. Add to this the size of games which used to take up a few hundred megabytes: the latest blockbusters now frequently take up over 50GB – each! And they’re growing! And these are just a few domestic examples. Office and graphics apps are now multi-gigabyte installations and we haven’t even started on file sizes. With Ultra High Definition (UHD) monitors and TVs in abundance, the likes of Netflix now distributing content in 4K UHD and with general consumer phones now frequently recording in UHD, file sizes for movies can be gargantuan. In the corporate world, where digital information is exploding, spreadsheets alone can run into multiple gigabytes in size. In the world of security, more cameras running 24/7 at ever-increasing resolutions means capacity has never been more important.

Fortunately, whatever your needs, whether they be personal, enterprise or security-related, Seagate has a potentially-huge drive (up to 8TB!) for you.

Whatever you think you want from a hard disk, capacity is the first port of call, because if your speedy new expensive model fills up right after buying it – you’re going to have to buy another one!

2. Performance

People of all ages will know what it’s like for a computer to take ages to boot up or for an application to take ages loading. You can fix this problem with an SSD but this comes at a huge price premium or a low capacity. But we want our cake AND to eat it so we looked to Seagate’s one terabyte, Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) which has 32GB of super-fast, solid-state memory AND a one terabyte mechanical hard disk – all in one compact, 2.5-inch unit. The best thing about this SSHD (besides the $110 price!) is that it learns which applications you use the most with its Seagate Adaptive Memory™ technology.

As such, the applications you use the most get quicker over time as the SSHD stores its most frequently-accessed information in the super-fast flash memory. We tested this for ourselves and here’s what happened: A regular, low-capacity, high-priced SSD took 20 seconds to boot up our high-performance test PC. We then cloned the information onto the SSHD and tried using that and it took 30 seconds: still respectable but 50% slower. But then we kept rebooting and timing how long it took and that time kept dropping. Within 10 reboots it took just 22.5 seconds to boot the test rig – that’s not bad for a hard disk that costs less and has well over 700GB extra storage capacity!

It does the same for laborious-to-open programs like Photoshop too!

3. Price

As we’ve alluded to already, price is a huge issue. A one terabyte SSD costs well over $400. If you want a 240GB model, that will still set you back around $125. Seagate’s 1TB laptop SSHD (ST1000LM014) , however, costs just $110.

The cost per GB works out to be dramatically cheaper: a 1TB SSDs cost is, at best, 45c/GB. A decent 500GB SSD comes in at 50c/GB. 250GB SSDs are around 56c/GB and 120GB SSDs are 62c/GB. Seagate’s SSHD on the other hand costs just 12c/GB!

When it comes to huge amounts of storage though, Seagate has you covered again. An 8TB Seagate NAS drive can cost just $550. That works out at less than 7c per GB!

4. Games

The plight of the modern PC gamer goes something like this: collect multiple games (which now take up over 50GB each) and swap the enormous files around between your small SSD and large-but-slow mechanical hard disks - depending on which one you play the most at the time. If you load into that online multiplayer game too late because the level took ages to load – you’re toast. If you walk round the corner of your favorite adventure game only for a loading screen to take ages to complete – you’re bored.

How good would it be to store all your favourite games on one low-cost disk and still have them load super-fast like a straight SSD? Seagate’s 1TB SSHD says, “Hi!”

Console gamers get a rough time from PC gamers at the best of times. But one thing that all console gamers will agree on is that the hard disks that come with games consoles are too slow and too small. Also, unlike a PC, you can’t just add more hard disks – you can only use one. The choice here is clear: upgrade your gaming console with a 1TB SSHD and not only can you keep many more games installed without having to delete and juggle the files, but levels load much quicker too!

5. Network Attached Storage (NAS)

It might sound tediously techie and geeky but quite simply everybody needs NAS. Whether it’s your treasured digital photo collections or critical business files, they need to be stored in more than just one place. A NAS device can store and backup everything while giving you access to the files from anywhere in your home, office or online. Smart TVs can access pictures and videos directly from a NAS, you can have your whole music library there and you can share files with colleagues and friends easily. But you’re going to need some serious storage to hold all those pictures, videos and data files. Seagate’s NAS-optimised drives are super reliable and come in capacities up to 8TB. Most NAS devices have slots for multiple hard disks so you can buy more than one for improved performance, capacity or security.

6. Laptops

If you use a regular laptop with a regular 2.5-inch hard disk, then you too will know what it is to wait for things to happen. Business computers especially still use these slow drives because they’re cheap and have a reasonable capacity. But it’s so easy to swap out a regular 2.5-inch mechanical disk for a hybrid, thereby removing this (usually horrendous) performance bottleneck, while boosting capacity at the same time. All thanks to the 1TB SSHD.

7. Warranty

For businesses and consumers alike, the data stored on a computer is worth much more than the computer itself. If your house was on fire, while it used to be photo albums that would be first on the ‘must save’ list, nowadays it’s your hard disk. [Note: the fire reference here is nothing to do with warranty – it’s a popular anecdote about what you’d save first if your house was on fire] So if you’re storing prized information, whether it’s family photos, the secret formula to perpetual energy, business critical information or the latest draft of your novel, be sure to buy from an established brand that you trust and that has a strong warranty. This fantastic 5 year warranty is available for NAS HDD, ENAS HDD and SSHD.

However, if catastrophe does strike, you can use the unique Seagate Recovery Services (SRS) to get back your prized data. Even if a hard disk has been burned, shot or beaten, chances are that information can be recovered. It’s a dark art but Seagate is the only manufacturer to offer these important services.

8. Connectivity

The easiest way to connect a hard disk to a computer is with a SATA cable. Most computers have them and so does the Seagate SSHD. There are no extra drivers to install and even Seagate’s learning technology all happens onboard the drive – you don’t need separate software to make it work! As such installation is a relative doddle! All of Seagate’s NAS drives just slot in and are ready to go!

9. Temperature

People don’t think about this but when a mechanical disk spins, it generates a lot of heat. If you have multiple hard disks in an old computer then things can get hot which not only requires the addition of noisy cooling but also can reduce the life of the components. In a desktop, replacing old hard disks is a no brainer but the benefits can be even more profound in a laptop which would otherwise need a battery-sapping cooling fan. Meanwhile, in data centers, the vast numbers of servers constantly whirring away mean that heat has to be dealt with by adjusting an entire building’s air conditioning! In these instances you need drives that are specially designed to work in consistently and continuously in tortuous conditions, and this is exactly where Seagate's specially-designed Enterprise NAS drives thrive.

10. The Data Center (or Multi-Server Environment)

Reliability is paramount to data centers and this is where Seagate’s specialist Enterprise NAS drives need to be considered. Their physical design is geared to reduce vibration and prolong life while the mechanics within are optimized for data center workloads. Seagate’s basic NAS drives have a massive, 180TB/year Workload Rate Limit and a whopping one million hour MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) rating – enough to provide peace of mind to the most anxious of data managers. However, with the special Enterprise NAS range the MTBF is 300TB/year while the Enterprise Capacity range is 500TB/year! So whether you want massive storage capacities, fast response times or reliability, Seagate has a unique, uncompromising product for you. The SSHD will speed up any computer without culling capacity while the NAS drives offer massive storage ability at a bargain price that won’t fail for a very long time indeed.

For further information, please see reviews of Seagate's products here:

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