Expand your digital vault with these 5 high-capacity hard drives

hard drive
Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors used in circuits will double every two years, and while that observation was specifically about semiconductors, it has come to be a guiding mantra for all facets of computing. Everything must be improving, rapidly, always.

This holds true for storage as well, with today’s hard drives boasting a far greater storage capacity than those released even a few years ago. In 2005, a 1TB hard drive was the dream. Today, 4TB seems routine. In 2015, the storage industry is in a state of flux, as manufacturers seek to keep capacities climbing higher without sacrificing performance. Hard drives can hold more data than ever, and here are five of the biggest.

Samsung PM1633a 16TB (Price not yet announced)

Samsung PM1633a 16 TB
Marc Sauter/Golem.de
Marc Sauter/Golem.de

This one may be cheating, as it hasn’t actually come out yet. First revealed in August, Samsung’s new drive is too impressive not to mention. The PM1633a is Samsung’s latest solid state drive, and it represents a massive leap from the SSDs of yesterday.

Despite its bland name, this beast has 16TB of storage, far surpassing the 8TB hard drives that clutter the top shelf. The PM1633a’s massive size is a result of Samsung’s 3D NAND die setup, which consists of longer layers of memory cells folded over so that more can be fit in. This allows for a significant increase in cells over previous models, in which cell layers were simply laid out flat.

The whole system will fit in a 2.5 inch case, the standard for SSDs. The new drive promises a 30 percent reduction in energy consumption from Samsung’s previous model. Samsung has not yet announced a price nor a release date for the PM1633a. Barring a shocking development between now and its release, it will undoubtedly be the highest capacity hard drive on the market.

HGST Ultrastar Archive Ha10 10TB

ha10 complete

At 10 TB, the Ha10 is the flagship of HGST’s Ultrastar line. Uniquely, the Ultrastar drives have helium sealed in the case. Helium, being thinner than air, reduces the wind resistance on the drive’s discs as they spin. This results in faster performance and less energy consumption.

The Ha10 uses an additional innovation, shingled magnetic recording (SMR), to increase the amount of storage space available. Whereas in a traditional hard drive, the tracks on a disc are perpendicular to each other, in an SMR setup they overlap like the shingles on a roof. In doing so, manufacturers are able to fit more tracks in. This increased density means greater storage space, though at a price. Because the tracks overlap, data must be written to each one, resulting in slower write speeds.

While the helium keeps the discs spinning easily, the Ha10 has a noticeable decrease in write speed (157 megabytes per second) compared to parallel track devices. As such, it is intended more for archival purposes, storing massive amounts of data that users might not need to edit regularly.

Seagate Archive 8TB ($250)

seagate archive complete

Like HGST’s Ha10, Seagate’s 8TB hard drive uses SMR to increase the amount of storage available at the cost of writing speed. Also like the Ha10, Seagate’s 8TB is intended for archival purposes, designed as a massive “cold storage” device. Unlike HGST, Seagate does not use helium in the drive. This keeps the cost down, but also the performance. The Archive HDD is one of the largest drives on the market thanks to the SMR structure. It is a great option for those who want a relatively cheap way to store huge amounts of digital media.

HGST Ultrastar He8 8TB ($480)

ultrastar-he8 complete

The second banana in the Ultrastar lineup is still more impressive than many of its competitors. The He8, like HGST’s other hard drives, uses helium to reduce friction on the discs, dramatically reducing the energy usage of the drive. In fact, HGST boasts that the He8 uses 23 percent less operational power than typical 6TB drives which forgo helium. While it has  smaller capacity than the Ha10, the He8 is faster with a sustained transfer rate of 205 megabytes per second.

WD Black 6TB ($300)

wd black complete

Western Digital’s “Black” line is known for excellent performance, and this 6TB model is a sterling example. The 6TB Black hard drive is not the most prodigious hard drive, but it is faster than some of its larger competitors, with a transfer rate of 218 megabytes per second. It’s also a good deal cheaper than most of them. This drive eschews the shingled memory arrangement of larger HDD’s, preserving speed and making for a better general use hard drive.

Photography

Grit and gear: How Chris Hershman went from retail clerk to music video director

How did Chris Hershman go from working a music retail job to working with bands like NEEDTOBREATHE and Switchfoot? The music video director and filmmaker talks to us about video, tech, and Nikon's new mirrorless.
Music

Spotify is the best streaming service, but its competitors aren’t far behind

It can be hard to decide which music streaming service is for you, so we've picked out the individual strengths of the most popular services, aiming to make your decision a little easier.
Smart Home

Amazon shows off compact cashier-free store that could show up at airports

Amazon is testing its smallest Amazon Go store to date as it considers taking the grab-and-go technology to new venues such as airports and train stations. The compact store is a quarter the size of its current locations.
Smart Home

Google Store sale is on now through December 24!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 may be history, but fans of Google hardware including the popular Google Home Hub, Pixel 3 and 3XL mobile phones still have lots of deals in store -- the Google Store, that is.
Computing

Latest Facebook bug exposed up to 6.8 million users’ private photos

An API bug recently left an impact on Facebook users. Though the issue has since been fixed, some of the apps on the platform had a wrongful access to consumers photos for 12 days between September 13 and September 25. 
Computing

You can now get a Surface Laptop 2 for $800 at the Microsoft Store

Along with deals on other variants, starting configurations of Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 are now going for $800 online at its retail store, cutting $200 from its usual $1,000 starting price. 
Computing

You’ll soon be able to scribble all over PDFs on your Chromebook

Chrome OS users may soon be able to doodle all over their PDF documents with the possible addition of a new feature in Chrome OS' PDF viewer. The annotation feature is expected to allow users to hand draw or write over their documents.
Computing

Need a monitor for professional photo-editing? These are the very best

Looking for the best monitor for photo editing? You'll need to factor in brightness, color accuracy, color gamut support and more. Fortunately, we've rounded up the best ones for you, to help you make an educated purchase.
Computing

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
Computing

Microsoft’s Windows 95 throwback was just an ugly sweater giveaway

Microsoft's "softwear" announcement wasn't what we had hoped for. Thursday's announcement was not the new line of wearable tech or SkiFree monster sweater we wished for. But it did deliver the 90s nostalgia we wanted.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.
Computing

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Deals

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.