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Hard drives serve as the storage of the computer, this is where all the files one uses are kept or it can be an external hard drive that can be connected using a USB. The external hard drive adds extra space in case one needs it or works as back-up storage. There are two basic types of hard drives. Ther are many storage sizes including 500GB versions of a hard drive. The price of an internal hard drive depends on the exact type.
A hard drive is where the computer stores its files. This is what would be called its memory; not to be confused with RAM (Random Access Memory) which is what is used to execute individual tasks in the schedule which makes a computer do 'work'. Hard drives are available in many different sizes, but the basic types are only two. 500GB is a decent amount of storage but could be somewhat less if one does graphics or video editing as that kind of work generates larger files. One could also be using a 500GB hard drive as an external drive where they back up their files or keep working files so the computer is not bogged down.
The older models are hard disk drives, these have a rotating disk onto which the files are written and from which they are read. The modern hard drives are solid state drives, these are based on the flash memory technology and do not have moving parts thus making the reading and writing speeds a lot faster.
There are other differences that can make the SSDs even faster. This would be in relation to the protocol systems in place. Ther are SSDs that have PCIe support and can make use of the NVMe (Non-volatile-memory-express) protocol. The NVMe protocol has a performance edge over other protocols due to a higher rate of input/output operations per second (IOPS), this decreases working latency.
The older interface that connects a hard drive to the motherboard was PATA. Today the more common interface is SATA, it has faster transfer rates than PATA. A PC can connect more SATA drives than PATA drives. The SATA cables are thinner meaning that they are better for the flow of air inside which helps with ventilation which in turn helps keep the machine cool. A PC can also have more SATA drives as it as 4 SATA ports, whereas only 2 PATA drives can be connected. For laptops, there are some that have space for 2 hard drives, but generally, laptops have one hard drive.
If one has professional level requirements pertaining to servers or other high-performance machines they can make use of the SCSI (Small Computer System Interface). This will give them an edge over the speed by a huge margin so larger data can be easily processed. Hard drives with SCSI are more reliable than SATA ones, can be used 24/7 and have an operating capacity of 1.6million hours at operating temperatures of 45 degrees Celcius. The storage capacity is lesser and these cost more than the SATA variants but make up for it in performance.
SSDs based specifically on NAND Flash technology will leak data over time if they have passed their 'endurance rating' period and loose all power from their internal capacitors which keep the information safe. The endurance rating is the number of write cycles the SSD can take, this number is usually in the thousands so there is a lot of usage before a drive gets there. If an SSD has reached its endurance rating and is not used once in a while to maintain some power in its capacitors, it will start bleeding data. The rate varies but it can start after 1 year without power at 30 degrees Celcius, or after 2 years if it is at 25 degrees.
One can find a 500GB hard disk for both uses, internal installation or as an external hard drive for extra space. The SSD drives are still a lot more expensive as the technology is newer.
The price of a 500GB hard drive depends on what the specific type is and the brand. One can choose based on their budget. Known brands producing them include Western Digital, Kingston, Toshiba, Seagate and HP.