Dr. Mac’s Checklist for Buying Hard or Solid-State Drives

Dr Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode # 393

I’m often asked for advice on adding storage on a Mac, so I’ve condensed my thoughts into a checklist to help you decide on your next storage upgrade.

√ How much storage do you need?

If you plan to use the drive for backups using Time Machine or other software, it is best to get a drive that is at least 3 times the size of your boot drive.

So if your Mac has a 512GB SSD, you want at least a 1.5TB drive, although 2TB is better (and probably more profitable).

√ How will you use the disc?

If you intend to boot your Mac from this drive, you’ll be happier with an SSD. macOS is optimized to run on an SSD. It takes much longer to boot from a hard drive than it does from an SSD, and almost everything – launching apps, opening apps, opening windows with more than a few files – will seem slow.

On the other hand, if you plan to use it for backups or additional storage for your music, photos or videos, a hard drive will give you more storage for less money. Which brings us to …

√ What is your budget?

SSDs are much faster, but also more expensive than hard drives. For example, a 1TB USB 3 external SSD will cost you around $ 160, while a 1TB USB 3 external hard drive will cost around $ 50.

The higher the capacity, the greater the price difference.

So go for the solid state if you can afford it – it’s much faster. But, unless you intend to boot from the drive (or have some other reason for needing SSD speeds), a hard drive offers more for your money.

√ Internal or external?

This one is easy – unless you replace an internal drive because it’s dead or too small – an external drive doesn’t cost much more than an internal drive, and you (or a service technician service) Avoid digging into the guts of your Mac.

√ What ports are available on your Mac?

You want to use a port with USB 3.0 or higher in most cases. If your Mac has an available Thunderbolt port, Thunderbolt drives are rarer but can be much faster than a USB 3.0 drive. But… Thunderbolt drives are considerably more expensive than USB 3 drives. So unless you really need super-fast storage, USB 3 will be your best bet.

√ What brand do you recommend?

No. I buy the cheapest disc that meets my needs. Since all disks fail eventually, I’m just assuming my disks will fail tomorrow and keep redundant backups of every file on every drive.

√ One more thing: You might want to consider something like this Voyager Dock if you plan to have more than two external drives:

A Voyager docking station allows you to insert cheaper 3.5-inch (left) or 2.5-inch (right) “bare” hard drives.

The Voyager docking station allows me to buy cheaper “bare” (or “internal”) 2.5 or 3.5 inch hard drives that don’t have a case or power supply, so they take less space while costing less per gigabyte than separate external drives.

I have over a half-dozen backup drives, so I have a dock with two bays that allows me to mount two drives at a time (instead of just one):

OWC USB-C Dual Reader Dock ($ 89.75).

OWC USB-C Dual Reader Dock ($ 89.75).

Yes, I still have to swap drives by hand, but it’s a small price to pay to save me a lot of desktop space, only needs one USB port, and costs a lot less than 6 drives Separate external USB with enclosures and power supplies.

Trust me: if you need (or think you will ever need) two or more additional external drives, you can’t go wrong with a Single bay dock ($ 34.75) or Double bay dock ($ 89.75) from Other World Computing.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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