How Much Storage Do I Need on My Laptop? [How to Decide]

Find out how much storage you need on your laptop based on your specific situation.

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We get this question a lot: “How much storage do I need on my laptop?” 1TB storage sounds excellent, but do you really need it? More importantly, does it make sense to spend the extra money for it? When you’re buying a new laptop, or upgrading the storage, choosing the right amount of storage space is very important. 

But how do you decide how much SSD storage is enough for you? Well, this guide will help you find out the ideal storage space you need based on your specific situation. We will also discuss the different storage options available in the market and the main differences between them.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Figuring Out How Much Storage You Need 

How much storage you need in your laptop directly connects with the question — what do you want to use it for? Let’s have a look below to give you more clarity.

Low Usage

If you’re using your laptop only as a light work terminal for using MS Office tools, sending and receiving emails, surfing the web, you probably fall under this category. 

Documents like Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, or text files are generally small in size. And you can store tens even hundreds of thousands of these documents without worrying about running out of storage. 

A decent laptop with 256GB SSD storage will do the job for you perfectly in this case. 

Moderate Usage

If you store thousands of photos, videos or even if you’re into light video or photo editing, then you simply can’t compromise with the storage space of your laptop. A standard quality image takes up to 5-8MBs, and more as we go higher the resolution ladder.

So, if you relate to this category, look for a laptop that features at least 500GB of storage space. We recommend going with an SSD-type that’ll boost up your data transfer speeds as well.

High Usage

If you are a hard-core gamer, professional video editor, or graphic designer, you probably won’t take long to fill up a 500GB storage drive. Even mid-range games can quickly expand up to 100GB, and so can high-resolution videos.

In this case, it’s best to go for a laptop with at least 1TB of storage. You can also opt for a dual storage setup that offers you an SSD and HDD combo or get external hard drives.

Calculating Your Need  

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to storage. You have to calculate how much your usage demands accordingly:

  • Average size of a Word document: 200KB   
  • Size of a photo: On average it’s around 2MP to 5MB, depending on the image quality. Photos taken by professional cameras can go a lot higher.
  • Average size of a movie: ~320MB for a 720p, 3-hour long movie
  • Average size of a music file: 3MB – 5MB
  • Average size of older games (Mario, Road Rash, etc.): 50MB
  • Size of modern games: Can range anywhere from 6GB to 300GB

1GB is 1000MB. You use Google to help you with the conversion and calculation.

So as an example, on a 256GB storage, you could store about 800 movies or 51,200 photos, or 85,333 songs.

Bonus: How Much Storage Do You Need for a MacBook?

Let’s dig deep into how much storage is sufficient for your MacBook for all our Apple lovers.

Is 256GB Storage Enough?

A 256GB MacBook like the MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro are suitable for usual day-to-day tasks and deliver a smooth experience.

But if you save all your photos from your iPhone on your Mac and if you have plans to build up a movie library, then a 256GB storage might feel a little short of adequate. In this case, you can go for the 512GB MacBook Air M1. In a few years or even less, this can fill up as well.

256GB vs 512GB vs 1TB MacBook Pro

The 256GB MacBook Pro will cost you around $1,627 and is suitable for light workplaces or attending online classes. You can pair it up with external storage if you need more in the future. 

MacBooks last for a long time, and therefore it is wise to opt for ample storage in the first place. Otherwise, you might end up having to upgrade your perfectly working one just for some extra storage. 

The 512GB MacBook Pro costs around $1,910, and it saves the hassle of constantly deleting your old files to free up storage space.

If you’re someone who never bothers to delete pictures, old files, screenshots or simply deal with large intensive software and games, it’s best to choose the 1TB MacBook Pro

Now you know how much storage you need. Let’s see what kind of storage you will want to get.

Let’s take a look at the different types of storage available for computers and which one to go for.

Types of Storage for Laptops

  1. HDD (Hard Disk Drive): Hard Disk Drives are the traditional and cheapest form of storage. In modern laptops, the most common HDD capacity is 500GB, while some expensive laptops also feature up to 2TB storage. 

    In the hard drive, there are actual physical disks spinning, and there is a head that’s reading/writing data. These tend to be loud. They are the cheapest form of storage but also the slowest and oldest technology.
  1. SSD (Solid State Drive): SSD storage is an improved concept than the decade-old HDDs. Here the data is stored on Flash memory-based modules that have no moving parts. SSDs are drastically faster than traditional hard drives and deliver an entirely silent operation. 
  1. eMMC (embedded Multi-Media Controller): Some brands offering smaller laptops and notebooks feature eMMC flash storage. Since it is directly soldered to the motherboard of your laptop, you cannot upgrade it afterward. If you’re sure of not requiring a ton of storage even in the long run, this could be a good option.
  1. Hybrids: A Hybrid storage type is one that uses a duo of HDD + SSD. This combination provides you large storage capacity and blazingly fast boot-up and application loading times in a cost-effective way.
  1. Alternatives: Although not very convenient, alternative storage like a USB drive or an external HDD can quench your extra need for storing all those movies and large gaming files. 
  1. Cloud Storage: Still not getting your laptop to cope up with your storage needs? Well, Cloud storages like iCloud and Google Drive can help you store your music, pictures, and other files on their server. 

If you are looking for physical storage for your laptop or desktop computer, we highly recommend going with SSD, even if you choose the hybrid solution, a small SSD storage will make a huge difference when compared to HDD. 

What’s the Difference Between Laptop Storage & Memory?

It is common to get confused between memory (RAM) and storage (SSD or HDD) because sometimes the word ‘memory’ is used (incorrectly) for storage. 

RAM or Random Access Memory is used to preload some data needed by the CPU for a short-term period. On the other hand, storage (SSD: Solid State Drive, or HDD Hard Disc Drive) acts as long-term storage for data and software files on a computer. 

Some critical differences between RAM and HDD are:

DifferenceRAMStorage
PurposeRAM is a primary memory for fast accessStorage drive is a secondary, slower memory that stores all data (software, OS, pictures, files, etc.) 
CostRAM is expensive per-unit storageStorage drive is comparatively cheaper per unit storage
Read-Write Time (Speed)RAMs are even faster than an SSD and have a low read/write timeStorage drives are slower and have higher read/write time (takes longer to record or retrieve data)
CapacityMemory capacity is small, generally ranging from 256MB to 128GB. A typical computer has about 4GB-16GB of RAM.Capacity of storage drives ranges from 256GB to 8TB. A typical computer has about 256GB – 1TB of storage.
Impact on SpeedGenerally, higher RAM equals faster computers. (it’s not always the case, but higher RAM is better)Storage size does not directly affect a computer’s speed 
Data presenceData is volatile and is wiped when your system is powered off. This is not the case when the device is in sleep mode. Data is stored for a long-term period and exists in the computer even when your device is turned off.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) About Laptop Storage 

Here are some of the most common doubts that might arise in your head regarding your laptop storage.

How to Add More Storage to a Laptop?

The first option for people looking to upgrade their laptop storage is to upgrade their HDD/SSD to a higher capacity. If your laptop does not support upgrades, you can rely on an external HDD or SSD.  

You Can Also Free up Space on Your Laptop Yourself By:

– Uninstalling unnecessary applications
– Use the disk clean-up tool
– Discard temporary files
– Get rid of obsolete files through file-explorer

How to Check Laptop Storage Capacity?

To check how much storage your Windows laptop has, 
1. Go to the start menu
2. Go to Settings
3. Follow on to System and then to the Storage tab to get a complete overview. 

If you have a MacBook then,
1. Go to Apple Menu
2. Select About this Mac
3. Click on Storage to check your storage availability.

Is an SSD better than an HDD?

An SSD is undoubtedly better than an HDD as it delivers significantly faster performance speeds. A large software or game that loads at 3-4 minutes on an HDD will take only up to a minute to load with an SSD, making it optimal for this purpose.

The speed of an HDD can slow down over time, while an SSD will give your laptop the same speed for years. SSDs are also much more durable and reliable for laptops as they have no moving parts. 

HDDs are cheaper per-unit storage, but with SSD prices falling, that factor also is bound to be wiped out soon.

Conclusion 

Selecting the right amount of storage for your laptop boils down to your requirements and budget. In my opinion, it’s best not to go for anything less than 256GB of internal storage. Yes, it is possible to upgrade it later, but it will cost you extra effort and money. 

The ideal choice would be a spectacular HDD and SSD pair to keep all ends assured. And even if you ever feel like you need more storage, you can always rely on external storage or cloud storage. 

Let us know in the comments below if this article helped you make a more sorted decision to match your needs or if you have any questions.

Avatar of Ojash Yadav
Written By
Ojash Yadav

Ojash is just as passionate about tech as he is about writing. He has been writing about tech before android was a thing. If you don't see a new article with his byline every week, then know he's too busy first-hand testing benchmarks of the latest laptops and PCs before he can recommend them to his readers on Freedom251.

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