When you plan to purchase a hard disk drive, it is important to understand and verify the hard disk drive is suitable for your uses and has or does not have the options you may or may not need. Unfortunately, with hard disk drive technologies changing every day, it is can be sometimes confusing and frustrating when looking to purchase a hard disk drive.

Interface

When looking to purchase a hard disk drive the first and foremost important consideration is the Interface the hard disk drive uses to communicate with the computer. Below is a listing of each of the available interfaces with information how thy may or may not apply to your computer.

* IDE/ATAPI/ATA
One of the more commonly found hard disk drives and used with IBM compatible computers, IDE is generally an easy to install and customize interface. Each IBM computer has the availability for a maximum of four IDE devices, these devices can range from Hard Disk drives to CD-ROM drives. If considering purchasing an IDE/ATAPI/ATA hard disk drive, verify that there are available locations for the drive to be connected to.

* SCSI
Another commonly used interface, SCSI devices are found in Apple computers as well as some IBM computers. The SCSI interface is generally a faster solution when compared to IDE/ATAPI; however, in some cases, they can be more difficult to install. To install a SCSI hard disk drive you must have a SCSI card and an available connection on the SCSI cable connecting to the SCSI card. It is important to remember if you have a Proprietary SCSI card, such as a SCSI card included with the Iomega Jaz drive, this SCSI card may not always allow your hard disk drive to work.

* External (USB / Fire wire / Parallel)

Several external solutions are also available; these include but are not limited to USB Hard disk drive, Fire wire Hard disk drive and Parallel Hard disk drive. When considering an external hard disk drive, it is important to look at the speed difference for transferring data to and from the hard disk drive. In addition, for these external drives to function properly, you must also have the available connection for the drive to be connected to.

Speed

In addition to the interface, it is also important to look at the transfer rates of the hard disk drive; long transfer rates can considerably slow down your computer when transferring larger files. When looking at the hard disk drive, look for specifications listing the RPM (Rotations Per Minute). An example of this would be a speed of 7,200 RPM.

Others

Below is a listing of some other important considerations to look at when purchasing a computer hard disk drive:

Warranty How long is the warranty and what does it cover.

Support Is the technical support number a free number is it open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Included components Verify that the hard disk drive that you are purchasing comes with the needed components to install the drive. Generally, hard disk drives included from the manufacturer will include an IDE / ATA/66-100 Cable, standard drive rails, instructions and diskette for installation.

Internal / External Transfer rates The Internal transfer rate is the rate the hard disk drive can take the data from the platter to the internal cache or read buffer. The External Transfer rate is the rate the hard disk drive can then take the data in the internal cache or read buffer to the computer memory.

S.M.A.R.T. S.M.A.R.T. is a new technology used to help warn the computer user of possible problems with the hard disk drive.

ATA, ATA/33, ATA/66, ATA/100 Another new and sometimes confusing interface is the ATA interface. Developed by Quantum in 1996, the Ultra ATA/33 interface allowed for computers to transfer up to 33 MB per second; later in 1998 this standard was upgraded to the ATA/66 standard with the availability of transferring up to 66 MB per second.

When purchasing an ATA/66 drive, the computer must support ATA66 as well as have an ATA/66 cable in order to support the transfer rate of 66 MB per second. If the computer does not have this cable, the drive will automatically be decreased to a transfer rate of 33 MB per second.

Price range

The price range can vary depending upon what type of interface the drive uses (SATA / IDE / SCSI / USB), capacity of the drive, and the RPM (Speed) of the drive. In general drives can range from $100.00 to $300.00 (US).

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