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It finally happened. You ignored those warning signs of a dying hard drive 5 Signs Your Hard Drive Lifetime Is Ending (And What to Do) 5 Signs Your Hard Drive Lifetime Is Ending (And What to Do) Since a majority of people today own laptops and external hard drives, which get dragged around quite a bit, a realistic hard drive lifetime is probably around 3 - 5 years. This is an extremely... Read More and let it go long enough for the hard drive to actually crash. You tried reviving that dead hard drive How to Diagnose and Fix a Dead Hard Drive to Recover Data How to Diagnose and Fix a Dead Hard Drive to Recover Data Several years ago, I experienced a hard drive failure. I was at work when my laptop suddenly started to act particularly strange. About half an hour later, the hard drive failed audibly and the laptop... Read More but to no avail. And now you’re stuck having to purchase a replacement.

Or, maybe you just want to install a second hard drive How to Physically Install a Second Internal Hard Drive How to Physically Install a Second Internal Hard Drive Read More for more data space, in which case you’re still stuck having to purchase a new drive.

We’ve already covered all the things you need to consider to buy the right hard drive. Once you know what you need, there’s still the matter of saving as much as you can so you aren’t wasting money unnecessarily.

HDDs Are Cheaper Than SSDs

One debate that’s losing a lot of steam is the battle between hard disk drives and solid state drives. We’ve long believed that the solid state drive is an overall winner Should You Get A Solid State Drive (SSD)? [Opinion] Should You Get A Solid State Drive (SSD)? [Opinion] If you've kept up with some of the latest news about new computer parts, you may have heard about SSDs, or solid state drives. They are designed to replace your clunky, slow hard drive and... Read More but it still falls short in two important areas: price and capacity.

For example, consider the WD Blue 1TB Hard Drive, which is the best seller in Amazon’s “Internal Hard Drives” category. For less than $55, you get a terabyte of data storage — that comes out to about 5 cents per gigabyte.

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In comparison, look at the Samsung 850 EVO 250GB Solid State Drive, which is the best seller in Amazon’s “Internal Solid State Drives” category. For just under $90, you get a quarter of the data storage of the WD Blue — that comes out to about 36 cents per gigabyte.

Samsung 850 EVO 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E250B/AM) Samsung 850 EVO 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E250B/AM) Powered by Samsung V-NAND Technology; Optimized Performance for Everyday Computing. Buy Now At Amazon $89.99

The difference here is significant. Can you believe that SSDs used to be even more expensive just a few years ago? Even after all of their advancements, SSDs continue to cost more than seven times their HDD counterparts.

Granted, SSDs come with a lot of benefits that make them worthy of the extra costs (at least according to most consumers). So for sheer performance, yes, we recommend getting an SSD instead of an HDD 5 Things You Should Consider When Buying An SSD 5 Things You Should Consider When Buying An SSD The world of home computing is moving towards solid state drives for storage. Should you buy one? Read More . But in terms of saving money, the only responsible option is to buy an HDD instead.

Note: If you’re going to buy an SSD, here are some important terms to know 7 Terms You Need to Know When Buying a New SSD 7 Terms You Need to Know When Buying a New SSD While SSD specifications may seem overly daunting at first, the truth is that these terms are quite simple to understand. Read More that will help you make the most informed decisions prior to checkout.

Buy Only As Large As You Need

The truth is, most people tend to spend beyond what they actually need, especially when they shop for goods online The MakeUseOf's Online Shopping Guide The MakeUseOf's Online Shopping Guide Learn how to hunt down bargain sales online, and how to implement the internet tips in your offline shopping experience. Read More — and this truth holds up when it comes to data storage purchases.

For some reason, people tend to buy drives that are way too big for their needs, and all of that unused data space essentially becomes money down the drain.

Seriously, if you buy a 1TB drive for $50 and only use 100GB at most, then you aren’t utilizing 90% of your hard drive and could have sufficed with a much smaller model for less cash. Of course, it’s nice to have a buffer in case you need more space later, but a buffer that big is downright unnecessary.

Seagate ST3250310CS 250GB 7200RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.5" Internal Desktop Hard Drive w/1 Year Warranty Seagate ST3250310CS 250GB 7200RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.5" Internal Desktop Hard Drive w/1 Year Warranty SEAGATE 250GB 7200RPM SATA 3.5 INCH Hard Drive 1 YEAR WARRANTY Buy Now At Amazon $17.00

So if your 1TB drive just died and you remember only using 100GB on it, consider buying something like this Seagate 250GB Hard Drive for just $23. You’ll still have more than enough space, but you’ll also have extra cash in your pocket to spend elsewhere.

Just remember: if you ever do need more data space later on, chances are that data storage prices will continue to drop in the future. It’s smarter to buy what you need right now and get another drive later, than it is to buy a lot more than you think you’ll need.

And if you think moving from a bigger drive to a smaller drive is going to make you uncomfortable, here are some tips for surviving a drive downgrade 7 Tips To Survive Your Move To A Smaller Solid State Drive 7 Tips To Survive Your Move To A Smaller Solid State Drive If you keep yourself updated with stories from the tech world, you will know that Solid State Drives are the future when it comes to storage drives in personal computers - especially in the mobile... Read More . It isn’t as painful as you might think.

…Unless You Need A LOT of Data

The one exception to the above rule is if you have an ever-growing amount of data to store. Some people just aren’t good at managing their storage space and end up filling every single drive to the brim — simply because they can. If that describes you, then listen up.

If we’re speaking strictly in terms of price-per-gigabyte, then you have to know that bigger drives are always more economical.

For example, let’s look at the Toshiba 5TB Hard Drive which has a price tag of $140. At face value, that’s pricey for a modern day computer component — but in terms of economical value, it comes in at 2.8 cents per gigabyte.

Toshiba 5TB SATA 6Gb/s 7200rpm, 128MB Cache, 3.5-Inch Internal Hard Drive (PH3500U-1I72) Toshiba 5TB SATA 6Gb/s 7200rpm, 128MB Cache, 3.5-Inch Internal Hard Drive (PH3500U-1I72) Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) Technology Buy Now At Amazon $199.00

Now compare that to a smaller model in the same line of hard drives, namely the Toshiba 2TB Hard Drive which has a price tag of $77. It’s a much more manageable cost for home consumers, but economically speaking, it comes in at around 3.9 cents per gigabytes.

(Old Model) (Old Model) Toshiba 2TB SATA 6Gb/s 7200rpm 3.5" Inte (Old Model) (Old Model) Toshiba 2TB SATA 6Gb/s 7200rpm 3.5" Inte Works with Serial ATA (SATA) enabled notebook computers Buy Now At Amazon $64.95

A difference of 1.1 cents may not seem like a big deal, but that’s almost a 40% increase in cost per gigabyte, and we’re talking about thousands of gigabytes here. Sure, if you’re only going to buy a single hard drive every five years, this isn’t that big of a deal, but if you use a lot of data — whether you pirate a lot of movies The Top 10 Most Pirated Movies Of All Time The Top 10 Most Pirated Movies Of All Time Last week we introduced the top 10 most pirated games of all time as a good indicator of real success. Can the same logic be applied to movies? Will the biggest grossing movies also be... Read More or make a lot of data backups 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 By now, we're sure you've read the advice over and over: Everyone needs to back up their files. But deciding to back up your files is only part of the process. There are so many... Read More — then the long-term implications are worth heeding.

But again, even though bigger drives are technically a better deal in terms of price-per-gigabyte, it’s not really a deal if you buy bigger than you need and never use that extra space.

Wait For Bargains and Coupons

What most people don’t realize is that you can save serious money by shopping around and looking for both coupons and bargains. Big marketplaces like Amazon are usually good with their prices, but not always — and it pays to look elsewhere and wait.

In fact, the secret to getting great deals The Secret To Getting The Best Deals On All The Stuff You Want The Secret To Getting The Best Deals On All The Stuff You Want If you make frequent online purchases using big-name retailers, such as Amazon, BestBuy, and Walmart, then you probably know about the deal finding sites SlickDeals and Fatwallet. A little known secret is that all the... Read More is… patience. It’s not the most welcome tip in our society of instant gratification, but trust me, waiting is worth it.

Two awesome sites to watch are FatWallet and SlickDeals. They provide RSS feeds for every new deal that pops up A Simple Tip That Will Save Money With FatWallet & SlickDeals A Simple Tip That Will Save Money With FatWallet & SlickDeals After the expensive holidays, and global recession has thinned our wallets, spotting a good deal can really boost your morale. Fortunately, some money-saving websites cater to your needs. Two of the best online communities for... Read More , but they also have well-versed forum communities where you can find even more great deals. Of course, since deals are usually timely, you may have to wait a few weeks or months to get a deal close to what you want.

For example, searching SlickDeals for “hard drive” brings up a recent deal (not even an hour old at the time of writing this) for a WD Elements 2TB Portable Hard Drive at $40 after a rebate. And the best part is, these deals aren’t uncommon! You just have to be patient and keep checking.

The other tactic worth pursuing is to hunt for online coupons and promo codes, which you can do manually by searching through several different online coupon sites Top 10 Sites For Online Coupons & Promotional Codes Top 10 Sites For Online Coupons & Promotional Codes Read More , but the whole process is made even easier with the use of online couponing apps How To Save Money By Couponing Online How To Save Money By Couponing Online While technology sometimes offers us entirely new options, it more commonly refines everyday life. Couponing is one example. People have been saving money with coupons for decades, but the proliferation of mobile Internet offers new... Read More and automatic coupon finders Automatic Coupon Finders - Do They Really Help You Save Money? Automatic Coupon Finders - Do They Really Help You Save Money? Like many good things in life, coupons and promo codes are elusive. Saving money is never an easy thing, after all, and when you’re trying to find valid codes for something specific, you usually end... Read More .

Use Sites That Pass Savings Onto You

For a lot of us, especially those of us in the United States, the most cost-effective way to shop for hard drives is to buy them online. The only exception is if you live near a brick-and-mortar store that offers exceptional deals.

But the problem with online shopping is, obviously, shipping. Hard drives can be somewhat heavy, so they aren’t exactly the cheapest items to ship — especially if you want them to arrive within days rather than weeks. Fortunately, there are some great marketplaces that provide a good balance between item price and shipping costs.

save-on-hard-drives-dealextreme

DealExtreme is a strong choice no matter where you live because they offer free shipping worldwide 3 Interesting Shopping Websites Offering Free International Shipping 3 Interesting Shopping Websites Offering Free International Shipping For international shoppers, shipping is often a major pain: Items can be much cheaper on the Web than in your country, but once you factor in the shipping, so-called “killer” deals start looking much less... Read More . Few online retailers can boast such an awesome feature, and DealExtreme deserves praise for it. Plus, their prices are pretty good and their product reviews are better than most.

save-on-hard-drives-tigerdirect

TigerDirect is another good site for shipping deals since select items are available for free shipping — not as awesome as DealExtreme, but still better than nothing. Which items ship for free? It changes every day, so you’ll have to be on the lookout with keen eyes.

save-on-hard-drives-pcpartpicker

PCPartPicker is a nifty third-party site that compiles computer parts from all kinds of online marketplaces to make it easier for you to see which ones are offering the best deals. The cool thing is that this website’s list of hard drives includes a price-per-gigabyte column, and you get to pick which retailer from which you buy.

save-on-hard-drives-amazon-prime

And lastly, there’s always Amazon Prime. While it would be silly to get Amazon Prime just to get free shipping on one hard drive, it’s undeniably cost-effective to get Amazon Prime if you shop on Amazon a lot over the course of a year. Plus, you get access to a bunch of Amazon Prime benefits you didn’t know existed 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now Scratch the surface. Amazon Prime has so many more benefits that people have forgotten about or simply don't realize exist. Read More .

One last note on shopping online: Keep an eye on return policies. If you end up buying a hard drive that’s incompatible for some reason, or you simply decide it was the wrong one to buy, then you don’t want to be on the hook for return shipping costs! Amazon Prime has free return shipping, but not all sites do, so be wary of that.

Got Any Money-Saving Tips of Your Own?

Before you go ahead and replace your old hard drive How To Install A New Hard Drive To Replace An Old One How To Install A New Hard Drive To Replace An Old One Read More , be sure to safely backup your data 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 By now, we're sure you've read the advice over and over: Everyone needs to back up their files. But deciding to back up your files is only part of the process. There are so many... Read More . If you want to go the advanced route, you might even want to clone your old hard drive How To Clone Your Hard Drive How To Clone Your Hard Drive Copy the entirety of one hard drive to another. It's called cloning, and it's an important process if you want to replace or upgrade the primary hard drive in your computer. Cloning isn't the same... Read More , assuming it isn’t dead and irrecoverable.

Otherwise, have fun shopping for a new drive and make sure you wring out every last bit of savings that you can with the tips above!

Have you bought a hard drive recently? What did you do to save money on it? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!

  1. Colin
    August 15, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    If you do not use Amazon much, you can still get Prime for 30 days for free and then cancel. A few sites also have free shipping if you buy a minimum amount. Always check shipping costs before buying, some sites give good deals, but make up for in shipping costs.

  2. David Patterson
    October 8, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    I recently bought a replacement 1TB drive and chose a non hybrid drive that was $20 less expensive.

    SSD drives are also turning out to be less reliable than forecast. Their flash memory has definite rewrite limits.

    • Joel Lee
      October 17, 2015 at 12:29 am

      Definitely get HDDs over SSDs for reliability. The fact that SSDs even have a risk of corruption due to power outages = too risky for sensitive data. But if you want speed, nothing beats an SSD.

  3. likefun butnot
    October 7, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    External drives are substantially cheaper than internal. If you're willing to give up the warranty on a drive, you can de-shell high capacity desktop drives and save as much as 30% vs. buying an internal version. I've been doing this to upgrade storage on my home server system. Since I'll wind up replacing 48 dives over the next 18 months, the cost difference is substantial.

    It should be noted that extremely high capacity Archive and "green" grade drives do not behave like standard desktop drives in terms of performance, so there's definitely a case where a buyer needs to be aware of what they're getting.

    • lucanos
      October 8, 2015 at 4:20 am

      +1 for this.

      Considering that HDD Warranties are all but useless (they may cover the hardware, if you can prove it was a hardware failure, but the true value in anyone's storage array is not the hardware - it's the data on that hardware).

      I'd rather pay 30% less per unit, buy twice as many, and RAID the drives to protect my data than pay full ticket to protect my warranty but not protect my data.

    • Joel Lee
      October 17, 2015 at 12:27 am

      Nice tip! I know some folks will be scared to tinker and open up drives like that, but you're right, the innards of an external drive are the same thing.

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