Types of storage devices
A storage device commonly referred to as a hard drive stores the operating system, applications and personal files you have. They come in a few forms, and can be seen with terms attached to them like HDD, SDD, M.2 and in the Intel specific builds optane memory.
With these the speed and therefore cost per GB increases with the HDD option being as low as a few cents per GB and some optane options approaching $10 per GB, due to the storage mediums age. typical, cost effective configurations will utilize a combination of a low capacity SSD and a high capacity HDD.
Why use a SDD?
The main advantage of SSDs are the read and write speeds of the drive. This translates to faster load and save times of files. A PC on the latest NVME SSD can see boot times of less than 10 seconds vs. a load time on a HDD typically hovering around 1 minute. That speed also is noticeable in applications when they are starting up or as you save your work.
Why use a HDD?
A HDDs biggest advantage is the low cost of storage. Therefore you can store more without breaking the budget. The best user scenario for HDDs is to store applications that you sporadically use and personal files, such has photos, music and videos. These don’t require high speed access, unless you find yourself constantly accessing some of the files, then it is best to move them to an SSD while working on them and transfer them back to HDD once completed. You can also choose to keep your system back up on this drive or supplant it with an external HDD.
Therefore, a common thought process of what size hard drive becomes more of how much fast disk space do I need and how much slow disk space do I want. Builds nowadays will feature a SSD of at minimum 240GB, around 80GB is used for a Windows 10 OS. IF all you use your PC for is a simple internet browsing and light email, maybe a little word processing, this is sufficient for your needs.
If you consider creating personal folder, such as albums of images and videos, you may want to consider also utilizing at minimum a 1TB HDD to store these on. This separation of personal files and OS allows for easy retrieval of personal files if you primary drive becomes corrupted. It also keeps the files that will be randomly saved at different times from forcing the computer to pull information from different section of the drive, slowing down the speed it reads.
This bare minimum amount will help with providing enough headroom for the accumulation of data.
For larger applications that you need to use constantly and need faster access to, the more you should leverage onto an SSD. The rule to keep in mind is “need to use on SSD, want to keep on HDD”.
As you budget increases, you can shift to a like to need/like to use SSD. Examples in gaming can typically half loading times of the start-up of a game or even game levels. It can also increase your Frame rate as the data is more readily accessible to be utilized by the CPU and GPU. It is a great quality of life upgrade.
When should I Upgrade?
If you find yourself at you capacity limit, it is probably a good time to consider either replacing or, if you have additional slots, installing a secondary drive.