Running out of space on your laptop is still an ever-present concern. Even though nowadays a typical computer might come with 1000 times more storage than what you would have gotten a couple of decades ago, it is certain that you are not the only one feeling like it is never enough. So how do you determine and decide on how much storage do I actually need on my laptop?
With increasingly huge hard drive and storage options available on the market, it is not uncommon to under or even overestimate the amount of storage you need.
What’s on the market ?
Laptops nowadays come with a wide range of storage capacities, and you may store data on your laptop using a variety of methods. When it comes to buying a new laptop and understanding storage requirements, one of the most frequently asked questions is what is already offered on the market?
The latest laptops nowadays offer either 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or even 1TB of storage. Most premium laptops, such as Macbooks, HP x360, and Dell XPS series, come with 256GB of storage capacity as standard. For the majority of users, this will likely be plenty of storage capacity for daily use, especially if you use your laptop to browse the internet and stream videos online, you won’t require more than 256GB of storage on your device. The main decisive factor is what kind of user are you? What type of work do you do and what files will you store on your laptop?
What kind of user are you?
To help narrow the vast array of laptop storage solutions, we have compiled a list of some common types of laptop users. Which of these user descriptions do you identify with?
- Light User: You are using the laptop for receiving and sending emails or documents , browsing the web or different social media platforms, then 256 GB of Storage is enough for you.
- Average User: you are using your laptop to save high resolution photos, and you plan on Storing some personal music and video files as well, then 512 GB of storage is enough for your needs.
- Heavy user: You are using your laptop to install and work on heavy software that is related to your profession such as video editing , gaming or design , then 1 TB of storage is recommended for you.
What purpose will you be using your laptop for ?
As mentioned previously the amount of storage you will need will rely on the purpose of your laptop usage. Each purpose requires a different storage capacity. The minimum amount of storage you should get is heavily dependent on what you are normally filling your drive with. Here is a breakdown of the different usage and its recommended laptop storage capacity.
Storage needs for Gamers
If you are a gamer with an ever-growing steam library and games that are becoming more complex, you will find that a dozen games could eat up half of your standard 1 terabyte disk space right away. Therefore it is recommended that if you are a gamer, have a look at the games you would like to purchase and tally up how much space you would need based on what the game information page indicates.
Bearing in mind that the new modern games could take up to 50GB whereas simpler titles could require almost 1 GB of space. On that account, if you run multiple games at a time, it is recommended that you opt for a laptop with a 1TB storage capacity.
Storage needs for Video-Editors
It goes without saying that Video games are not the only thing that can hog your laptop storage. If you store or work with videos on your laptop. On average a 60 minute compressed video can take almost 60 GB, while an uncompressed 60-minute video can take up to 200 GB.
You should also consider that the software you will be using to edit will also require additional space on your hard drive, software such as Adobe Premiere could take up to 8GB of your disk space. It is therefore apparent how quickly laptop storage may fill up whether you are a video editor who uses software or uses your laptop as a video storage repository.
Storage needs for Still Images
Still, image photography is more forgiving when it comes to storage. It is estimated that 1 TB is enough to store almost 50,000 high-resolution photos. Even for avid photographers, 1 or 2 TB of Laptop storage should be adequate for their needs. Similar to video editing, photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop will require almost 4 GB of free disk space. Yet, if you are just saving compressed JPEG photos of friends and family, these take up much less space, so storage is not a concern.
Storage needs for Students (High School, University & College)
The amount of storage space you will need as a student depends on what you study and your current level of education. If you are a High school student working on homework and projects will not require more than 256GB.
You can read our guide about the best laptops for teachers.
As a College student, however, your laptop storage requirements will depend on your major. If your major is mainly assignments and essays based you will get by with 256GB to 512GB. Media, Art & Design, Computer Science, and Engineering are more likely to need 1 TB storage for their projects and software.
Types of Storage Solutions
Let’s take a look at some of the different commonly used methods to store data on your laptop.
- HDD (Hard Disk Drive): It is the traditional type of computer storage. Older Laptop models came equipped with HDD. It is considered the cheapest alternative. However, If you were to use a HDD in a modern laptop, it would slow down your laptop and it makes noise while using it and my be you hear your laptop fan grinding noise.
- SSD (Solid State Drive): Nowadays, the latest laptop models are equipped with SSD. The main advantage of an SSD is that it loads files faster than a hard Drive. It is also silent and more durable as it saves your laptop battery and is also shock absorbent. However due to its many benefits it is more expensive than HDD.
- Hybrid Solution: Many laptops are equipped with a combination of SSD and an HDD. The SSD works on quickly loading your most important programs and files, while the HDD is used to store the rest of your data.
- Cloud Storage: Considered the most contemporary method of storing data, Cloud storage is a method that stores your laptop data in a remote location “the cloud” and can be accessed using the internet. You could save a lot of your data on cloud services such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
Recommendation for the type of Storage
The storage capacity of both HDD and SSD are the same. Yet, the main difference is their speed and price. So if you need a lot of space and have a limited budget, HDD is usually the cheapest alternative. Otherwise, you should choose a Hybrid or SSD-equipped laptop to benefit from the speed and durability. Also, there is always the option of using Cloud Storage to store extra files and free up some disk space on your laptop for your recently used files.
Cost and budgeting
Now that you know what type of user you are, it is time to consider your budget. It’s important to understand that you will be paying more for more storage. You should also know that it is better to invest more in storage when you first purchase your laptop than try to fix the problem later on.
If you do run out of storage, however, you could consider add-on options such as Cloud storage or purchasing an additional hard drive that is budget-friendly.
Advertised vs Actual Laptop Storage Capacity
A common mistake that people fall for when buying a laptop is believing that the advertised internal storage space is what you actually get without accounting for the operating system. For example, if you are buying a 256 GB Laptop, it is not correct to assume that there will be 256 GB available for your use. Instead, you should account for the operating system. For example, Windows 10 accounts for 8GB of your laptop storage. Therefore, in this case, you will be getting 248 GB instead of 256 GB.
There is also a complicated matter, laptop manufacturers advertise drive capacities based on 10 figures, which we as users are more familiar with rather than using binary figures which computers actually use. That is also another reason why we get less storage space than what we are promised.
Having established the different factors to consider when deciding on laptop storage, we can conclude that for the average person, students, and light user; 256 GB of storage should be sufficient and cost-effective. If your usage is slightly higher or moderate, then you don’t have to compromise your needs. You can opt for the 512 GB option or you can consider Cloud solutions such as Google Drive. Finally, if you are a media professional or a heavy user it is recommended that you consider a laptop with 1 TB storage.
We hope this guide has been useful in helping you decide on your laptop storage needs. If you have any questions related to this topic or something else, just leave your comment below. It will be our great pleasure to assist you.
FAQS of how much storage do I actually need on my laptop.
How much Laptop Storage do I need for University ?
This mainly depends on your major of study. If you’re a Media, Art & Design, Computer Science or Engineering student you are more likely to need 1 TB storage for their projects and software. Otherwise, it is recommended you would go with 256 GB or 512 GB based on your budget.
What type of Laptop Storage is the best ? What is SSD Laptop Storage ?
SSD is considered the most efficient type of laptop storage. SSD Storage loads your files faster, is more durable, does not make noise, and is shock absorbent. It is best to buy a laptop that combines HDD and SSD to maximize storage while maintaining speed.
Can I increase or upgrade my laptop storage ?
Yes, you can, here are 3 options:
- Upgrade your internal drive: This is the most expensive option but is convenient if you do a lot of work offline
- Purchase an external drive: If you rarely access your files and do not need them accessible at all times
- Use or purchase cloud storage: That is the least expensive option as you usually pay a small amount as a monthly subscription.