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As your main storage unit, your hard drive must be big enough to hold your operating system (OS), applications, videos, games, photos, music files, and all the other data you will accumulate over the years ahead. With applications and file sizes growing in leaps and bounds, a hard drive that’s big enough now might not have enough capacity in a year or two. For example, each new generation of digital cameras offers higher resolution images that require more storage space.

To estimate how much storage space you’ll need, consider the following:

  • The operating system (OS) can fill 10GB* and many applications require 1GB or more.
  • A few applications, games and the OS can easily occupy 20GB of hard drive space.
  • Add 10 hours of high definition video at 8.3 GB per hour,10,000 photos at 3.5MB per photo, and 5,000 songs at 4MB per song and you’ve almost filled a 160GB hard drive – without taking into account the many other files and applications that most users accumulate. (File sizes used in this calculation are average file sizes created by typical usage scenarios. Your results will vary.)

All Dell XPSTM  desktops offer high-performance hard drives with Serial ATA (SATA) bus technology and DataBurstTM  Cache. For even higher performance, some XPS desktops can be configured with 10,000RPM drives. For top performance and greater capacity Performance RAID 0 is an excellent option.

Defining the Storage Capacity of Your Hard Drive

Hard drive manufacturers define 1 Gigabyte (GB) to mean 1,000,000,000 bytes in powers of 10 (109 bytes). The computer operating system (OS), however, defines 1 GB as 1,073,741,824 bytes in powers of 2 (230 bytes). Because a Gigabyte as defined by the OS is larger than a Gigabyte as defined by the hard drive manufacturers, the OS will show the same hard drive to have fewer Gigabytes of storage capacity than that given by the hard drive manufacturer. In fact, the hard drive has the same storage capacity under either definition.

As a practical example, the difference in definitions means a hard drive manufacturer’s 40 GB hard drive would be listed as having 37.2 GB by the OS. However, the actual available storage capacity reported by the OS will be even less than the total storage capacity of 37.2 GB for the reasons explained in the following section.

Once Installed on Your Computer, Your Hard Drive Will Have Its Storage Capacity Reduced by Formatting and the Storage of Other Content Used to Run Your Computer.

In order for a hard drive to be compatible with an operating system, the hard drive must be formatted for use by the operating system. Formatting a hard drive requires using a portion of the hard drive’s capacity and thus reduces available storage capacity from the unformatted total storage capacity. Available storage capacity will also be reduced if operating systems, applications, or media content are pre-installed on the hard drive.

How Much Will a Hard Drive Store?
Consider future storage needs as digital video and photo cameras will continue to advance in image quality and therefore may require more memory
Hard Drive Capacity Chart


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