How Much Storage Do I Need On My Laptop, Is 256 GB Enough?

When I’m looking for a new gaming laptop, there are many factors to consider. One of those factors is determining how much storage I need. I mean, there is no point in buying a laptop with 256 GBs of storage if the plan is to bust out the latest AAA game titles.

Although a 256 GB laptop would be ok if all you plan to do is browse the web, write a few emails, and draft the odd letter. But if you decide to store your whole photo and video collection, and download a few games you would soon run out of laptop storage.

Even though there are many options for external upgrades that will add more storage to your laptop. It’s always worth buying a laptop that will meet your storage needs.

In this post, I will answer this question, how much storage do you need on a laptop? I will also recommend how much storage is required for everyday use, gaming, and graphics and video editing?

Contents Of This Page

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Most Common Types Of Laptop Storage

Laptops have come of age in recent years and especially gaming laptops. They now offer many of the same benefits you would enjoy with a gaming PC. But, unlike a PC where you can switch out the processor and the graphics card with ease to give your PC a boost, it’s just not as easy with a laptop.

However, there is one way to boost your laptops performance, and that is to install a new SSD as your system drive. Installing a new SSD is one of the best ways you can boost your entire systems responsiveness.

But, it’s not the only way.

There are many other cheaper options although they won’t be as effective as installing a new SSD. You could replace your HDD or add an external storage solution, like a flash drive, an external hard drive or even a hub drive.

Below is a list of laptop storage options that are commonly used to increase a laptop’s storage.

 Highly efficient because the lack of moving parts means they need less power to transfer data.
NVMe SSD DriveSSDs come in two formats: NVMe & SATA. NVMe SSDS use the PCIe system and push data around at a much faster rate than a SATA SSD. NVMe Drives use the M.2 form factor and come in various lengths, most commonly the 2280 ( 22mm x 80mm). SSDs are much faster and more expensive than an HDD. Most new laptops will have an SSD as it’s primary storage ranging from 128 GB to 1 TB.
HDD (Hard Disk Drives)
Noisy because of the various moving parts and can slow down your system but can offer much more storage for less money
HDD Laptop StorageAn HDD is a mechanical data transfer storage device that stores and receives data and uses moving mechanical parts to read/write data. HDDs where laptops manufactured choice of storage until 2009, at which time, they were ousted by faster, smaller, and lighter SSDs.
HDDs are not the best choice to have in your laptop because they are known to slow your system down. However, HDDs do make excellent external storage devices because of the amount of storage space you get for very little money.
USB Flash Drive
Small, light, and compact. Some USB flash drives come equipped with security functions like password protection and they can transfer data much faster than a standard USB drive.
USB Flash DriveA flash drive is a portable storage device that can store or transfer smaller amounts of data. They are perfect for copying multiple documents from one device to another. And a great option if you don’t want to take your laptop out but need to take some of the files stored on it. Flash drives offer storage capacities between between 16 GB to 256 GB, so no amount of documents are left behind.
HUB Drive
Amazing accessory for a gaming laptop. They are cross-platform compatible, offer exceptional reliability and speed. You can back up your whole gaming collection in a matter of seconds.
HUB DriveA hub drive is the perfect addition to your laptop PC, with capacities of up to 14 TB. You can back up your whole life if needs be. HUB drives are compatible across all devices and can come with either USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 and offer transfer rates up to 5Gb/s. You can also get hub drives with multiple ports so you can quickly charge your USB compatible devices.
SD Cards
These are great for transferring data between your devices, phones, laptops, cameras etc. There’re not the biggest but will get the job done. Get one with a higher transfer speed, like 170MB/s.
SD Card Most laptops will have an SD card slot which is a quick way of adding additional storage to your device. SD cards offer smaller capacities of up to 256 GB, and transfer rates are commonly in MB/s. All you have to do is slide it into your laptop’s SD slot and you have added more storage. Only good for storing small amounts of data but great for single documents.
An NVMe SSD is the best storage for a laptop

What Is The Ideal Storage For A Laptop?

The ideal storage for a laptop is an SSD, in my eyes its the most underrated component of any laptop. The AMD and Intel processors and the latest Nvidia graphics cards take all the glory, while an SSD works wonders to boost your performance without taking much credit.

A decent SSD can speed up loading times by as much as 60% over their hard disk cousins. You will find that most newer laptops will have an SSD already installed, starting at 256 GB. Although not the biggest storage option, a 256 GB SSD would be ideal for light video gaming, school work, and general purpose tasks.

Whereas, most budget gaming laptops and mid-range general purpose laptops will come equipped with a 512 GB SSD, which is an ideal storage solution for a casual gamer and would easily accommodate 5 or 6 high end games.

Moreover, if you are looking for a new laptop it’s best to find one with the newer M.2 interface where the SSD looks a bit more like a stick of RAM than it does a laptop storage solution. This can be confusing when its time to upgrade.

M.2 slots can take either an M.2 SATA drive or an M.2 NVMe drive and the former would be the slower and the cheaper option. Whereas the NVMe SSD drive would be a lot more expensive but so much faster in terms of read/write speeds. Making it the best storage option for any size laptop.

Ideal Laptop Storage For Lightwork

If you’re looking to buy a new laptop for lightwork or to have laying around the house for tasks such as sending and receiving emails, browsing the web and watching movies. Then, it would be ok to buy a laptop with a 256 GB storage solution. If it’s a new laptop more than likely it will have an SSD, which is great.

But if you decide to store photos or family videos, the amount of storage you have may become a problem. Like I have said before, it’s not all doom and gloom because for very little money you can subscribe cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive

Furthermore, most new laptops, even older models will have an SD card slot which is a quick way of adding additional storage. All you would need to do is purchase an SD card but make sure it’s a decent 256 GB SD Card, and you will find one for around £30. 

Also, look for one with a faster read rate, something like 170MB/s. Then, slide it into the SD slot, and you will boost the storage space that you can use. Although, just be careful what you store on it, and don’t install apps because you will lose access as soon as you pull out the card.

Ideal Laptop Storage for Graphics and Video Editing

A few months of storing your videos, photos, and graphics will easily fill up your laptop’s available storage space. But, if you manage the storage you have by regularly clearing out your old files with a free program like CCleaner, and better organizing your folder and files, then 512 GB should be enough for starters.

It would be better to have upwards of 1 TB of storage. But, it’s not the be-all and end-all if your laptop has less. And you could even save money by purchasing a laptop with 512 GB of storage. Then you can add more storage as it gets full. 

My laptop started with a 512 GB SSD and I use the full suite of Adobe software, mainly Premiere Pro for video editing (1.6GB) and Photoshop (3.4GB) for creating my graphics. 

In total, the Adobe software currently uses about 9 GB of my laptop’s storage space but the good thing about a programme like Adobe is it comes with additional cloud storage. My package includes 120 GB of storage which is where I save most of my designs and videos.

However, after about six months of daily use I felt it was time to add more because I found myself deleting stuff off my laptop. Things like my gaming recordings and when I think back it would have been nice to hold onto some of them for future reference, but they’re gone now.

It was then I decided to install a 2nd drive, a 1 TB SSD, and it’s been sometime since I deleted a video. So for that reason, I would recommend having at least 1 TB of storage for your graphics and videos and either a 256 GB or 512 GB SSD to use for booting your system and storing the programmes you use most.

But if your budget is tight a laptop for photo and video editing with a 512 GB SSD would be ok to start with.

How Much Storage Do I Need On My Laptop For College?

The amount of laptop storage you would need for your college studies would depend on the subjects you’re studying. If it’s Maths and English, you may not need a huge amount due to only using light programmes and apps. So a laptop with a 256 GB SSD would suffice.

Whereas, if you’re studying graphic design, engineering, or music, the type of subjects that require heavy software you would probably need more than 256 GB. I would suggest a 512 GB laptop would be best.

If you’re still not sure, my advice would be to go over to your college website and check out their guidance on the recommended technology requirements for your particular course. If it says you need at least a 256 GB SSD. All that’s left is to decide what else you plan to do with the laptop while at college.

Let’s not forget, most students will have mobile phones for photos and videos, social media etc. So you may want to save them on your laptop and create a compilation at the end of the year as a reminder of the good times you had. Then you would probably need a bit more space than 256 GBs.

Also, would you be playing games? If so, what games? How big are they? If you answered yes then you would need more storage. I think 512 GB would be the sweet spot. A great amount of storage for your college work and a spot of gaming in your spare time.  

So, before you go out and buy a laptop to meet the recommended college course requirements, ensure you answer the questions above. We want you to get the best laptop for your needs.

How Much Storage Do I Need On My Laptop For Gaming?

Gaming Laptop Storage

The ideal laptop storage for gaming would depend on the type of games you play. If its a laptop for playing Minecraft on or even Roblox, then not much storage is required at all.

Therefore, buying a laptop with a 256 GB SSD would be sufficient. With that, they can play their favourite games for fun and build a bucket load of Minecraft Maps. Watch movies on Netflix and homework would be a breeze.

It’s worth noting, as they grow older and social media takes up their spare time. They could fall out of love with these types of games and move over to Fortnite or Grand Theft Auto. Then you would definitely need more storage than 256 GB.

A 512 GB SSD For Beginners

From my own experience, a gaming laptop with a 512 GB SSD is a perfect starting point for casual gaming. It’s more than enough for all the games mentioned above, and it would easily manage your photo collection and many files and folders.

The best way to see how much storage you would actually need for gaming is to look at the games you play and see how much storage space is recommended.

Most current games will require anywhere from 25 GB to 100 GB of storage space. But there are some games, like Call of Duty Warzone, that require a whopping 175 GB of storage, and they recommend you have an SSD as the storage solution.

My tip would be to find a laptop that has an M.2 drive, one with two slots, if possible. I would recommend steering clear of HDDs because they can be noisy and will slow down your laptop.

But if you must, you can grab a 1 or 2 TB HDD and use your pre-installed SSD as your boot drive. This way, your laptop will start up fast and you will save some money at the same time.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. HDD vs SSD

    Until 2009 hard disk drives were the go to storage solution for laptops. Since then SSDs are the number one bad boy in terms of laptop storage. Most laptops, and even budget options will have an SSD as the primary storage solution because they are small and light. And some will have two storage options: an SSD and an HDD.

    So, what are the differences between an HDD vs SSD? For starters there is a difference in price. A 1 TB SSD would cost almost double the price of a 1 TB HDD. From my own experience buying an SSD over an HDD is money well spent. I would much rather have an SSD booting up my laptop than an hard disk drive. 

    Also, SSDs are more reliable. HDDs can be prone to read/write errors and could result in loss of data, trust me, it happens. Mainly because there are many moving parts in an HDD unlike an SSD where there are none. Apart from that, SSDs have shorter Read/Write times and they also have low latency. So there is less likely to be any lag due to issues related to your laptops storage.

    However, if you must get an hard disk drive it is best to use it only as your secondary storage. It can be a good idea because you will get 2 or 3 TBs of storage space for a reasonable sum and store your entire game collection, or thousands or photos without much problem. Then have, a 256 GB SSD or 512 GB SSD as your primary storage so your laptop starts up quickly and complete everyday tasks in a breeze.

  2. What is the average laptop hard drive size?

    The average laptop hard drive size is 1 TB, I think it's due to the cost of HDDs being much lower than they used to be. In 2009 the size and the speed of an SSD took the laptop storage world surprise.

    Now almost all new laptops will come with an SSD as the main storage solution, even cheaper budget laptop will have either a 128 GB SSD or 256 GB SSD.

    Common Laptop SSD Size: 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB.

    It is quite common to find laptops with a 512 GB SSD as its primary storage solution paired with a 1 TB HDD which is used as the secondary storage and especially with gaming laptops. The SSD will be used to boot the operating system and the HDD is used for storing large files and games that you don't play as often.

  3. Is 250gb hard drive enough?

    A laptop that has a 256gb hard drive would be ok if all you plan to do is save a few documents and files and maybe a few photos. Most newer budget laptops will have a 256 GB SSD and not an HDD, they are smaller and lighter and space is at a premium in thin and light laptops.

    If the 250gb hard drive is an SSD then yes it will be enough for most users, including college students and young ones who like to play games such as Roblox and Minecraft and watch YouTube videos. But, you won't be able to store many videos' and the photos you can store will be limited.

    Cloud storage is also an option if you are short on laptop storage space. You can also remove unwanted programmes and apps you don't use with a programme like CCleaner. Unfortunately, new laptops comes with many useless programmes. Manufactures squeeze in for extra revenue but you can sift through these and get rid of the ones you don't need.

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  4. How to check how much hard drive space do I have?

    Checking how much storage space you have is easy if you have a Windows laptop, there are two straight forward ways to check.

    Option 1. Press the Windows key on the keyboard and type “Storage” and then click on “Storage Settings”. The sheet that comes up will reveal how much storage you have left. It will also show you where the storage is allocated. If you need to free up space you can click on each section and remove files you don't need. You can also clear your temp files which will help create more space.
    Option 2. Click on any document folder on your desktop and click on “This PC” on the left panel, it will show you how much free space you have on your laptop for each storage drive you have.

  5. How much is 1tb of storage?

    A 1 TB of storage is equal to 1000 GB/s of storage or 100,000,00 MB/s. It's roughly the same as having 4 laptops that each have 256 GBs of storage. So, when you look at it like that it's quite a lot.

    As an example, my current gaming laptop came with a 512 GB SSD and for the first 6 months I never had any issues with storage. I was able to download and store my games, videos, and photos. At the same time as storing many apps and programmes. Including Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Rush software.

    The only time I struggled is when I hadn't deleted my gameplay for several days. Each video was in access of 40 GBs and there were five or six stored in my video folder. It was only then, my laptops storage was full. So unless you have as much going on as I did. A 1 TB hard drive is more than enough for most people.

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Final Thoughts..

Hopefully you have a better understanding of how much storage you need for your laptop. If not, let’s recap, a laptop with 256 GBs of storage is more than enough for most people. It would keep all your files and folders neatly stored and a good few photos and family videos as well.

Even then, if you feel you need more space there is always cloud storage. Or you could purchase a cost effective flash drive. Also a laptop with a 256gb hard drive will allow you to play less demanding games like Minecraft or many games on Steam. 

It’s only if you decide to play games that are a bit more demanding. Then more laptop storage would be better. Even then, a 512 GB gaming laptop would be good for most casual gamers. But, if you record your gameplay be sure to either delete old videos to help keep your storage in check.

Finally, if you’re looking to buy a new laptop, it would be worth checking to see what type of drives are inside. If it’s a NVMe laptop drive that uses the M.2 form factor you would be mad to pass on that. It will give you access to the fastest SSD storage solutions and make sure it’s upgradable.

If you have any questions related to laptops, gaming or anything in between please do not hesitate to contact us. Or you can drop us a comment below. And please subscribe to our email list to receive our latest content straight to your inbox and share this page. It helps us out massively.

Happy Laptop Gaming!

James, Editor for Jimmtech. An avid tech lover since the days of the Sega MasterSystem. Purchased my first gaming laptop in 2006 and have owned many since, including models from MSI, HP, Razer, and Dell. In addition, I have 4 years of experience managing IT and 5 years in Digital Marketing. Until I decided to share my love for gaming. Jimmtech was born.

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