Shopping for Extra Hard Drive Space for Your Mac - dummies

Shopping for Extra Hard Drive Space for Your Mac

By Mark L. Chambers

One way to optimize the way Mac OS X Snow Leopard runs is to ensure that you have sufficient hard space. Here’s a list of guidelines to keep handy while you’re shopping for a new internal or external hard drive:

  • Faster is indeed better. You’ll pay more for a 10,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) drive than a slower 5,400 or 7,200 rpm drive, but the extra cash is worth it. Faster drives can transfer more data to your Mac in less time, especially if you’re replacing your Mac’s internal Serial ATA drive.

    Faster drives are especially important for storing digital video.

  • Serial ATA and EIDE drives are different. If you’re replacing your internal drive, you have to get the same type of drive that you already have: EIDE or Serial ATA. (EIDE is a common parallel ATA standard hard drive used in PCs and older Macs.) Again, System Profiler can tell you which type of drive your Mac is currently using.

  • Avoid used or refurbished drives. Hard drives are one of the few components in your computer that still have a large number of moving parts. Therefore, buying a used drive isn’t a good idea unless it’s priced very low.

    Because the prices on new hard drives are constantly dropping, make sure that you check on the price for a new, faster drive of the same capacity before you buy that bargain used drive.

  • Pick FireWire over USB. Compared with a FireWire connection, a USB 2.0 external hard drive is less efficient and slightly slower. Because most Macs with USB ports also have FireWire ports, make very sure that you buy a FireWire drive! (If your Mac has USB 2.0 ports, which will show up in System Profiler as well, you can buy a USB 2.0 drive without being embarrassed. Or invest in a drive that has both FireWire and USB 2.0 connectors!)

  • Watch the size of the drive when buying internal drives. Most SATA (Serial ATA) and EIDE (Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics) drives are standard half-height 3.5-inch units, but check to make sure that you’re not investing in a laptop drive, unless, of course, you’re upgrading a laptop.