Hard Drive - Image by Mac Users Guide

This article will look at the range of different types of hard drives available.


Types of Hard Drives

This article looks at standard internal hard drives, external hard drives and other types of hard drive.

Standard internal hard drives measure 3.5 inches (the most common) or 2.5 inches in width.

Serial ATA (SATA)

SATA (“Serial ATA” or “Serial Advanced Technology Attachment”) hard drives are the most widely used internal computer hard drives used at present, designed to replace PATA/IDE drives.

The later SATA 2.0 (or SATA II) and SATA 3.0 (or SATA III) allow for a high amount of bandwidth/speed.

There following types of SATA hard drive are currently available:

  • SATA 1.0 – SATA 1.5 Gbit/s
  • SATA 2.0 – SATA 3 Gbit/s
  • SATA 3.0 – SATA 6 Gbit/s
    • SATA 3.1 revision
    • SATA 3.2 revision

    Intel SSD Drive - Image copyright Intel


    Solid State Drives are superior in terms of their speed, although are more expensive than SATA drives.

    SSDs are favoured by gamers, web developers, designers and creatives for the increase in performance the drives provide.

    Most high-end / luxury / gamer computer systems now include an SSD drive to run the OS/Windows, as well as a larger SATA hard drive for storage duties.

    iomega external hard drive - photo by Steve.M~

    External Hard Drives

    There are various different types of external hard drives.

    Desktop external hard drives are designed to sit in a home/office location, providing extra storage.

    Portable external hard drives are designed to be more hardy, and can survive being moved from location to location.

    Click here to read our guide to the different types of external hard drives.

    Laptop Hard Drives

    Laptop hard drives are often very flat and compact, and may fit particular models of laptop.


    There are many different hard drive manufactures.

    Here are a list of some of the main manufactures:

    • Seagate
    • Western Digital
    • Samsung
    • Hitachi
    • Intel
    • Toshiba
    • Corsair
    • OCZ
    • Crucial
    • Mushkin


    A really interesting video looking at the different types of hard drives available. Physically looks inside the different drives. Includes SCSI and IDE hard drives.

    This video shows you how to find out what type of hard drive is installed on your computer. A lot of people ask questions like “What type of hard drive do I have?”, “Which hard drive do I have installed?”, “How to tell the difference between SATA and IDE hard drives” etc. This video goes a good way at helping you work out the answers.

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