Laptop storage has always been a confusing aspect for me. Even during my formative years when my parents had that classic IBM-branded laptop with a navigation key in the middle, I was intrigued by how data, files, music, and videos were stored inside such a sleek computing device. Since then, laptops have slimmed down almost remarkably but the storage units have only evolved, spoiling us for choices and obviously space.
However, amid the plethora of storage units and types, there is a question that requires a blatant and unbiased answer, i.e. how much storage is actually needed?
While the question has always been asked, often with an earnest desire to get the answer out, the response to it often lies within the usage patterns, requirements, professional workload, and the type of computing device that you might be interested in.
But then, more often than not, the real question is not about the storage quantity. While it is a genuine concern, it comes to light only when you have positioned yourself perfectly to understand the type of storage that your computer needs for completing certain tasks better than usual.
Type of Storage and the Problem of Plenty
To be honest, you first need to get your storage priorities right before fixating on the storage capacity. At present, computing devices, including Chromebooks, laptops, standard computers, 2-in-1s, tablet-PCs, and more offer quite a few storage types for you to rely on.
Even if you have no idea about some of the newer storage types, you would certainly be privy to a hard disk or rather a hard drive. Arguably the oldest computer-specific storage variant, a hard drive is also the cheapest option that you can get on your laptop or any other compatible computing device.
But then, hard drives are slow and despite some offering speeds of up to 7200 RPM or even 10000 RPM, they can hardly match what SSDs have to offer. Plus, you can even consider investing in an external hard disk if your main storage starts depleting with more work. Not to mention, an HDD also takes up more space, thereby making the device bulkier than usual.
Unlike a hard drive that is often sluggish and retrieves data at moderate speeds, SSDs or solid-state drives are enviably fast and even more reliable. Also, an SSD is a much better choice if you plan on investing in a laptop for video editing, graphic designing, and even CAD processing.
In addition to the improved speeds, SSD storage units are light and literally non-existent due to the data storage principle led by flash memory technology. This means, most ultraportable laptops feature SSD storage units as they can be subtly paired with a portable form factor.
‘ Embedded’ Multimedia Cards are specialized computer storage variants that are commonly found in tablets and even chromebooks. Unlike an SSD that adheres to the motherboard via the PCIe 3.0 or PCIe 4.0 connector, eMMCs are directly soldered and cannot be upgraded. It is also a flash memory-based storage unit like a conventional SSD and therefore, characterized by higher speeds.
If you are planning to get hold of a mid-range laptop that comes loaded with standard storage support, hybrid hard drives or rather solid state hard drives are better choices. Better termed as an SSHD, these drives are aimed at offering affordable capacity of a hard disk whilst matching the speeds of an SSD.
If budget is an issue and you could only get your hands on a basic laptop with eMMC support, cloud storage can also be a reliable option. While it cuts out the on-premise storage obligations, the speed with which the files are retrieved depend on the processing power of the device.
Also, unlike an SSD, cloud storage is more like using an external hard drive as you can always purchase enough storage to manage documents, provided you are confident of staying connected to the web.
Depending on the type of storage you need, you can buy a laptop for the best possible price. Also, it wouldn’t be wrong to state that at present, most buyers are looking for SSHD, SSD, eMMC, or even cloud storage options for their computers. But then, nothing beats the efficacy of a standard SSD, which still happens to the first choice for almost every buyer.
Why is SSD Storage Space Preferred?
You might be wondering why most buyers and even yourself are at crossroads, when it comes to selecting laptops with any other storage type but an SSD. A solid state drive comes with a wide range of benefits, which often justify the higher costs and even the restricted storage, provided you aren’t willing to spend a fortune on a new laptop.
- An SSD is traditionally faster than a hard drive. Therefore, if a HDD takes around 60 seconds to complete a process or retrieve something, expect a standard SSD to do that in under 10 seconds
- Coming to the operating system, an SSD boots up the computer way faster than what a comparable HDD would be able to. Therefore, if you want to purchase a laptop with Windows 10 operating system, an SSD would be a good choice.
- Unlike an HDD that makes a lot of noise while being at work, a solid state drive works clandestine and is perfect if you want a laptop for gaming, listening to music, or video editing.
- Improved functionality as certain SSDs feature RAID 0 and RAID 1 technologies to make file retrievals faster
- In addition to the improved speed, an SSD can also be related to better battery life as they use lesser power when it comes to loading a website, running games, installing files, and streaming online media
What should be your Preferred Storage Capacity?
Here are the factors that determine the storage capacity of your laptop:
If pricing is an issue, you are expected to either opt for a HDD or a hybrid HDD. In that case, you can easily opt for 1TB of storage space as any laptop you purchase will still be reasonably priced.
Nature of Work
This is probably the most important metric that could determine how much storage you might need. For example, if you are a video editor who works on high-resolution videos and needs to install multiple software modules like photoshop, Kinemaster, and more, it is advisable to get a 512GB SSD module, as the bare minimum.
While this might shoot up the overall cost of the laptop, you do get access to faster photo and video-specific resources. RAW images, and more. Also, if you are a professional gamer looking to install high-end games like Cyberpunk 2077, you might even need to opt for SSD storage in tune of 1TB, which might push the price way higher than usual.
Also, 1TB of storage space, pertaining to solid state drive, on your laptop might be a reason enough to break the bank. However, you might be able to do away with even 256GB of storage space if speeding up Windows 10 boot-up, storing files, loading simple programs, and storing standard data sets are some of your priorities.
Type of Laptop
In addition to gadget-specific preferences like storing photos, gaming, streaming media, and running complex programs, the storage capacity of your laptop also depends on the type of device you are working with. For instance, a standard laptop might need at least 512GB of storage space to exhibit the best possible performance, either in terms of loading high-resolution photos with ease or gaming rather effortlessly.
Most ultrabooks or smaller 11-inch laptops are better off with even 128GB of storage as they do not support games and might only need the user to store photos and look for faster Windows 10 boot-ups. The need for better file retrieval speeds while editing photos and videos can also be related to higher storage requirements, and 14-inch laptops can therefore make peace with 512GB SSDs, which seem like a standard inclusion.
While these are some of the most important aspects that determine the storage capacity, I have also enlisted some pressing questions that might impact the type and size of the storage space.
Storage FAQs: How Much Storage do I Need and What Should be my Type?
Q1. Should the storage type determine the capacity?
A1. Yes, it should be as the storage type and the standard capacity often go hand in hand. For example, if you have money to spare, a laptop with 512GB, 1TB, or even 2TB should be approached with an SSD in mind. If you still want similar capacity but at a lesser price, a hard drive storage unit is preferred. However, in that case you will have to make peace with a lot of noise, sluggish website loading speeds, and middling performance.
Q2. Is a 256GB SSD enough?
A2. 256GB isn;t much storage but still takes care of almost every performance-centric task, basic programs, standard files, and the need to store music, few movies, and Windows operating system.
Q3. Is 512GB SSD enough?
A3. In case you want your laptop to deliver exceptional performance, store almost all work-related programs, and even cater to the gamer within, 512GB of storage seems adequate, provided you have the budget to go for a SSD.
Q4. Is 256GB enough storage for a standard laptop?
A4. Solid-state drive of up to 256GB caters to most entry-level users. With a drive with 256GB of space, you can achieve much, as a gamer or even a professional who might need to find a laptop that is a bit affordable but still lets you store several files at once.
Let’s Revisit- How much storage do I need on my laptop?
‘How much storage do I need’ is a question that cannot be answered directly as the same depends on the performance you seek, nature of programs that you want to install and store, games you want to play, and data reserves you want to retrieve. However, if you need the best of both worlds, as a user, your priority should be to opt for at least 512GB of space.
Also, if budget is an issue, you can go small and later upgrade the same via an external HDD or even cloud storage options. Plus, if a majority of your workload concerns online usage with reliance on web connectivity, even 128GB seems more than enough. Most Chromebooks and even laptops like Microsoft Surface Pro offer 128GB variants to users who are more dependent on web and cloud-specific resources.
Finding the right storage unit on a laptop is as essential as being fussy about any other trait. However, in most cases, it is the nature of the files that you want to save, determining the size of the storage drive. While a budget seeker might not get much say in these matters, you can always search for sizable SSD-powered notebooks, provided you have the budget to spare.
Also, if you plan on splurging, you can even find yourself a 2TB SSD for storing files, games, and other resources. In conclusion, the space for storing files, data, and resources clearly depends on the budget of the buyer, which is then synonymous with the workload.