Computer storage has come a long way in the last decade in order to keep up with the demands of modern computing. It can be hard to believe that just a short time ago, we were using floppy disks to store our data. If you own a smartphone, you have, at the touch of your fingers, around 1 million times more RAM than the “Apollo” computer that allowed us to land on the moon.
Computer storage evolves so rapidly that it can be hard to figure out exactly what is best for your needs. In this article, we are going to answer just how much storage do I need on my laptop for different tasks and budgets.
There are a number of different storage types used in laptops. The most common four are as follows:
Hard Disk Drive Storage (HDD)
HDD style storage or Hard Disk Drive Storage is a type of storage solution developed over a decade ago. It utilizes a spinning disk and a laser system to read data. HDD has several benefits and several flaws. Firstly, it is the cheapest form of storage. Secondly, it allows for huge amounts of data to be stored. You will often find HDDs in laptops with up to 4TB of storage space.
The downside to HDD storage is that they are slow. For this reason alone, you will rarely see an HDD in any high-end computer unless it has a dual-storage solution, including the newer SSD form as well.
Solid State Drive (SSD) Storage
Solid State Drive storage, or SSD for short, is the new kid on the storage block. This form of storage uses flash memory and is many, many times quicker than the old HDD format.
Unfortunately, as with any newer tech, you will have to pay a lot more for an SSD storage solution, and you will find that to match a 4TB HDD, you will have to spend a vast amount in order to replace it with a 4TB SSD. For that reason, it is much more common to find 512GB or 1TB SSD’s in newer generation laptops.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
Random Access Memory is a slightly different kettle of fish. This flash memory deletes every time your computer switches off. It stores thousands of tiny cheat sheets that allow your computer to run more efficiently.
Demanding tasks like streaming require a certain amount of RAM, so you will need to make sure that you have enough. A 4TB SSD drive is useless if you only have 4GB DDR3 RAM, for example.
Hybrid Hard Drive Solid State Drive Storage (HHDD or SSHD)
Hybrid Hard drive Solid State Drive Storage, often shortened to HHDD or SSHD, is the newest and most innovative form of storage available. With an extreme price tag to match, it combines the rapid transfer speed and capabilities of SSD storage with the vast storage potential of an HDD.
Embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC)
These cards use similar technology to SSD drives in that they use flash storage. They are, however, inferior to SSD drives in every single way. As a result, there are very few reasons to use a card like this except in rare niche situations, so stay clear unless you know you want one and why.
How Much Storage Do I Need On My Laptop? (Guide For All Tasks)
As we have already noted, the amount of storage and the type of storage that is going to be best for you will depend upon your usage:
Word processing is one of the easiest and simplest tasks a computer can run. You can find a laptop for word processing tasks for relatively cheap. You will not require an SSD or a high-end laptop in order to complete word processing tasks. The only storage requirements you will need will be a tiny bit of storage for your documents.
If you are looking at a great laptop for university or college, then you might want to consider what you need from it. If it is solely for work, you will be fine with 256GB of storage. However, if you intend to save lots of photos and music on your laptop, 512GB or above will give you a little bit more breathing room.
Surfing the web is another task that requires little storage. As long as you are not saving vast amounts of photos and videos or downloading lots of media, then web surfing should not affect your storage needs.
Using streaming apps like Spotify has made it a lot easier for the music lovers in us. We no longer need the physical storage for the thousands of songs that we listen to every day.
However, if you often find yourself listening to Spotify when you do not have access to the internet, you will want to ensure you have the space to download your library so that you can access it while offline. For those who want a strong laptop for music production, you will want to ensure there is enough storage to handle your needs.
Gaming is one of the tasks that are going to require a stronger base level of storage. For modern gaming, we highly suggest that you use an SSD to boot up games. Loading up AAA+ games from an HDD is a painful endeavor. Loading screens take a lot longer, the game loads a lot slower, and you will have to deal with much higher heat output.
For modern gaming, we suggest that you aim for at least a 512GB SSD, paired with 8GB DDR4 RAM as a minimum, and 16GB DDR4 RAM is recommended.
If you need a laptop for graphic design, you will need something to handle demanding tasks that will require you to be smart with your storage. To keep costs low, many designers opt for a base level of 256GB SSD. They then use an external SSD ranging from 1-4TB. This is a good way to keep the cost of your laptop low and will allow you to maximize storage without needing a much bulkier and heavier laptop.
One thing to note with graphic design is that most designers recommend a minimum of 16GB RAM. This is more important than your actual storage in terms of making design programs run more smoothly.
How To Check Your Laptop Storage Capacity?
Checking your laptop’s storage capacity is a simple task and will only take 30 seconds:
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Is 256 GB a lot of storage for a laptop?
256GB is the minimum storage that we would recommend for modern computing. This will allow you to browse the internet and watch videos without a problem. Once you start downloading images, music or videos, however, this will fill very quickly. If you intend to do anything more than simple tasks, you might want to look to upgrade.
How many photos can 256GB hold?
This isn’t simple to answer. The number of digital photos that you will be able to store on a 256GB storage drive will depend upon the quality of the photos you are storing. High-quality 4/8k images will take up a lot more room than standard 720p resolution photos.
A rough guide is that 1 TB gives you the option of storing roughly: 250,000 photos taken with a 12MP camera; 250 films or 500 hours of HD video; or 6.5 million document pages. So 256GB should allow you to store around 62,500 photos at standard quality.
How many apps can 32GB hold?
Again there is no clear answer to this. Certain apps might be 1GB big or 100GB big. If you know what apps you plan to use, you should be able to work it out before purchasing any laptop.
Which is better: a 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD?
This will depend on your usage. If you are only going to be using your laptop for word processing and browsing the internet, you will get more out of a 1TB HDD. If you are going to be gaming or doing serious photo editing, the SSD will make life a lot easier and your tasks run a lot smoother.
Related: Do I Need 500GB Or 1TB Of Storage?
Ensuring you know what kind of storage and what type of storage is going to suit your needs in the best way is massively important when you are considering purchasing a new laptop. Hopefully, after reading this article, you are better equipped for this, and making that decision is just that little bit easier.
Holly Curell is a US-based freelance writer & editor extraordinaire. With over a decade of writing technical manuals, blog articles, & even company communications, Holly has a passion for providing value to readers on everything she knows about tech-related topics. When she’s not writing, Holly enjoys reading, hiking, wine, & wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Holly is currently based out of North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Ken & their three children.