Graphic design series post 5 – Choosing a hard drive

Solid state drive? Mechanical Drive? 250GB? 1TB?

Welcome to the final part in our series on how to get the ultimate graphic design setup!

Don’t be overwhelmed – choosing storage for your graphic design machine is actually a very easy task since there are very few things to consider.

Decide how much storage capacity you need

Firstly, you need to decide how much storage you need. This can be easy or sometimes moderately difficult.

You want to estimate how much data you think you are going to need to store at any given time.

Keep in mind that even if you have your data stored in the cloud (Dropbox or OneDrive for example) – you will likely need to keep a good portion of that data as a local copy on your machine as it is faster to access. So factor that in when working out how much storage you need.

Luckily the price has come down considerably on good storage options these days so you can now get fast storage for a reasonable price.

Do you need to split your data?

Secondly you need to decide how you are going to split the data. Many machines these days will use a combination of Solid-state storage (SSD) and Mechanical storage (HDD). This combination of hard drives offers the best blend of speed and storage capacity at a cost effective price.. Most designers will use – at minimum – a 500GB SSD for the operating system, software and files in use. Any less than that and you will likely find you are running low on space very quickly.

Then, depending on how much information they need to store they may have a mechanical hard drive (or 2) as an archive drive. So this is where you would, for example, store files for clients that you aren’t actively working on but you want to ensure you have the data just in case you need it.

Using multiple drives allows you to have data redundancy – this means that if one drive fails (which they can and do) you still have your data safely n the other drive.

What type of hard drive do you need?

A solid-state drive or SSD for short is a newer type of storage media, they are what will eventually replace the hard drive as standard media in all machines.

SSD’s are fantastic because they are better than a mechanical hard drive in pretty much every way. They are faster, more robust, smaller, cooler, however there are down sides.

The biggest of which is the amount of storage you can have. The largest mechanical hard drive on the market at the moment is the mammoth 12TB 3.5-inch desktop drive from a number of manufacturers. These drives are the kings of mass storage, most people will struggle to fill such a drive.

The SSD on the other hand the biggest consumer drive around is a 4TB Sata SSD from Samsung, 4TB is still a heap of space, but the price tag is also eye watering at around $2000. The 12TB hard drive on the other hand is only around $700, still a bit of money but it’s also 3x the size, therefore you need to find the balance of fast storage and bulk storage.