The advantages of two hard drives

Written by michael hintz
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The advantages of two hard drives
Two hard drives are better than one. (hard drive macro image by Ray Kasprzak from Fotolia.com)

There is the obvious advantage of extra storage space when including a second hard drive in your computer, but having a second hard drive provides more benefits than just more space. Because your computer is constantly reading from and writing to the system file (the main hard drive), separating the tasks will protect data from inadvertent corruption, extend the life of both drives, decrease the amount of time it takes to load programs, and reduce the frequency of defragmentation.

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Data Protection

Using separate hard drives for file storage and the system file (operating system essentials) lowers the potential for corruption due to hard disk drive errors. Having a second hard drive makes corruption far less likely because disk errors caused by accessing stored files (or from recording video or audio) cannot affect the system file, where all the important data for loading a computer's operating system is stored.

Extended Drive Lifetime

Hard drives are one of the most commonly replaced computer components because they are one of the few computer components with moving parts. Every time a file is accessed, a mechanical arm called an actuator must move across the spinning disks to read the magnetic data stored on them. Separating the task of accessing files to two drives means longer-living, healthier hard drives in the long run.

Load Times

Another advantage of a second hard drive is that load times will be significantly lowered because each hard drive can access files as the processor asks for them instead of being bottlenecked by only one drive (the processor is much faster than the hard drive). This is especially valuable for programs such as video-, image- or audio-productivity software or high-end gaming, all of which require the loading and processing of large amounts of data stored on a hard drive.

Less Fragmentation

Another advantage of separating data onto two hard drives is that data won't become fragmented as quickly, and each drive won't need to be defragmented as often as a result.

IDE vs. SATA

If your computer only supports the interface standard IDE and not SATA, you'll want to make sure that each hard drive is installed to a separate IDE channel. Installing two hard drives on the same IDE channel will limit the speed of both drives severely. SATA does not have this problem, as all channels are separate and only include one device.

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