Maxtor has recently released another hard drive in their DiamondMax Plus line, this one with a whopping 250 gigabyte formatted capacity. I know what you are thinking: why do I need 250 gigabytes of storage? What does 250 gigabytes mean? What is SATA? And most importantly, why should I replace my current drive? These are all excellent questions, and you should be proud of yourself for being so insightful. As far as needing a new drive, I can't answer that, but I can help you understand the specifics of this drive.
To understand this drive, we must take a closer look. The 250gb capacity is so big that it's almost obscene. To put it in perspective, it would be able to hold more than 27 non-stop consecutive days (yes, I said days) of mp3 music, or 5 days worth of DVD-quality video. What it really means to the average user is that space will not be a concern at all. But its size does not make it any noisier. In fact, with it's fluid dynamic bearing (or FDB) motor technology, this is one of the most quiet hard drives on the market.
Some of the other specs are a little more technical, but also important. The rotational speed of the internal platters is 7,200 rotations per minute; the platters are what hold all the information in the drive, much like music on a vinyl record. Vinyl records come in two flavors: 33 rpm LPs, and 45 rpm records (or forty-fives). If you ever tried playing a 33 rpm LP at the 45 rpm setting, you would hear the same song, only higher pitched and sped up. Essentially, spinning the plate faster allows the music to be played faster, which is the same in hard drives. The faster the platters spin, the more information you can access in a set amount of time. 7,200 rpm is the current standard for hard drives, but it is not the only factor that affects speed. And make no mistake, this drive is faster than many other 7,200 rpm.
Part of the reason for this drive's speed is its SATA disk-interface. SATA is short for serial ATA, which is a way that a computer's motherboard and the drive connect and transfer data. SATA is faster than the older parallel ATA standard, and much faster than the old-yet-ubiquitous IDE standard. SATA offers a 150 MB/s transfer rate, which means that the hard drive can send up to 150 megabytes to the mother per second, or vice versa. The ATA standard offers 133 MB/s at best. This is a big factor in the drive's high speed.
With so much going for it, why would you not want one? Aside from the grunt work involved in putting a new drive into your computer, the SATA connectivity can be a restriction. If your motherboard does not support SATA, you must either buy a new motherboard, buy an interface card, or take the hard drive back to the store. Another problem with this drive occurs with Windows XP service pack 1. When the drive is initially connected, the operating system will think it is 130gb drive. That's still huge, but it is only half the storage the drive is capable of. If you habitually deny the automatic updater in Windows XP, expect to run into this problem. There is a way to fix it, and it's a simple matter of partitioning the drive and updating your configuration. If you've never done this before, though, it can be a little confusing.
I still know what you're thinking. You are thinking one of two things. One: Thanks for the breakdown. Now I know whether I should get it or not. Two: I'm more confused than ever. Thanks for nothing. For those who fall into the second category, it is recommended that you look a little deeper before making the investment. It is a quality drive, though, and you should definitely consider it when you are ready to buy and you have moved into the first category.