How much storage do I need on my laptop? – Full Explanation

One of the most commonly asked questions when you’re looking at purchasing a new laptop is wondering how much storage you’re going to need on it.

Nowadays, laptops come with a varied amount of storage capacities, and there are various different ways that you can store files on your laptop. In some cases, you might want to purchase external storage as an addition to your laptop too.

I’m going to take a look at the different amounts of storage that you can have on your laptop. Hopefully, this can help you to work out exactly how much storage you will need to have.

How much storage do I need on my laptop?

How much storage you need on your own laptop will depend on your situation. Generally, most premium laptops like Macbooks, the Lenovo Thinkpad and the Dell XPS series will start with 256GB of storage space. For many people, this is probably going to be enough storage space for regular use.

You can typically get up to 1TB of storage with a new laptop, but this isn’t necessary in most circumstances. This is especially true if you opt for a Chromebook or alternative operating system to Windows, as you can rely a lot more on cloud storage that the laptop’s inbuilt space.

If you use your laptop for browsing the internet and watching Netflix, then you won’t need more than 256GB of storage on your phone. Heck, you probably won’t need more than 128GB of storage on your laptop if you’re just looking to use your laptop for simple things.

The question of whether you need more storage space on your laptop comes if you’re going to be storing larger files on your laptop. For example, a film will probably take around 1.5-2GB of space on your laptop. In comparison, a full TV series could be 20GB of space or more.

If you use Photoshop or other Adobe programs, they can take up a minimum of 1GB each. Both Microsoft Word and Excel take up a little under 2GB of space, and they can have large files too (Excel and Word documents). All of these different files and programs can add up pretty easily.

For the majority of people, I think that 256GB of storage should be more than enough. As I’ve said, this is the minimum storage that a lot of laptops come with nowadays, and it should be enough for most people.

However, if you work on your laptop and you’re going to have a ton of files – this means you, designers and video editors – then you might need more storage than this, and it could be better to opt for a 512GB or 1TB laptop.

Confusions about Laptop Storage


One of the most common confusions with storage typically comes with confusion about RAM. RAM, which stands for Random Access Memory, is the short term memory of your laptop. When you load a program, it will be moved from your storage to the RAM so this it can be easily accessed, and will run faster.

Although the RAM is technically somewhere programs are stored on a laptop, this is only temporary. Your RAM is volatile, which means that it clears when you turn your laptop off. So, nothing is going to be saved there permanently.

When we’re referring to laptop storage nowadays, in most cases we are talking about SSD, which stands for solid state drive. This is where all of your programs and media files will live when your laptop is switched off.

All of your open programs will close when you switch the device off, as it is a non-volatile form of storage. This means that it saves things even without being powered, which is obviously pretty important. But what other types of laptop storage are there? well, let’s take a quick look.

Types of Laptop Storage

If you’re wondering about the different types of laptop storage out there, then let’s take a look at some of the different commonly used methods to store data on your laptop.

RAM (GB)What It's Good For
SSD (Solid State Drive)If you're going to buy a laptop, it's more than likely that it uses an SSD. For example, Macbook Pros made since 2012 use an SSD - previous to this, they used a HDD. The reason for this is basically because an SSD are much quicker than the alternative - they're also more reliable. Data in SSD is stored in flash memory, which makes them almost weightless too.
eMMC (Embedded MultiMedia Card) Storage You'll see some brands of laptop use eMMC storage as opposed to using SSD. An eMMC card is soldered directly onto the motherboard of your laptop, so you can't upgrade it later. It's primarily used in phones and tablets, but you'll sometimes see it used in smaller laptops & notebooks.It's only really good for people that don't need a ton of storage space, and it's probably a better idea to opt for an SSD. Like an SSD, eMMC is a form of flash storage, so that's typically what we compare it to.
HDD (Hard Disk Drive)A Hard Disk Drive is traditionally what you'd think of when you're thinking of computer sotrage. However, If you were to use a Hard Disk Drive in a modern laptop, it would slow down your laptop a ton. Nowadays, using a HDD might be a good idea if you're looking for external storage that you can connect to your laptop. But for your main storage that you'll be using everyday, an SSD will be the better option.
Hybrids Sometimes, you'll find a device that has a combination of both an SSD and a HDD. An example of this is a SSHD, which combines both storage types. This is intended to give you the best of both worlds - the speed of a solid state drive with the capacity of a hard disk drive.
AlternativesIt's worth knowing that although we don't really use them too much anymore, USBs and regular Compact Disks are types of laptop storage. Obviously, CDs have become pretty much irrelevant in modern society, as for their size, they have very little space.
Cloud StorageSomething else worth considering if you're wondering how much space you need on your laptop is cloud storage. If you keep a lot of your files in cloud storage (things like Google Drive & Dropbox are examples of commonly used cloud storage), then you might not need as much storage on your laptop as you think.

These are the different types of hard drives, as well as some alternative forms of storage too. They can all be used to save your photos, videos and whatever other documents you need to save.

Advantages of SSDs over HDDs

Nowadays, pretty much every laptop is going to use an SSD. You may find some laptops that have eMMC storage instead, but you won’t find a Macbook or premium Windows laptop without a solid-state drive.

But why are they so much better than HDDs? Well, here are just a few reasons why an SSD is better.

  • They’re just faster – To put it simply, the main reason we use SSDs today in the majority of laptops is that they’re just faster than hard disk drives. What might take an SSD 10 seconds to do can take a HDD a minute to perform to same function.
  • Noise – SSDs don’t make any noise – they don’t have any moving parts. A HDD will make noise when you’re using it (it typically sounds like a motor spinning, kind of like a grinding noise).
  • Battery Life – An SSD will enable your laptop top have a better battery life than if you were to use a HDD. This is because they use significantly less power, which results in less battery being used.
  • Shock resistant – While a HDD would be affected if you were to move your laptop around, an SSD is shock resistant and won’t be affected if you were to drop your laptop. This ensures that there’s no data failure if this were to happen.

The only real negative think about an SSD in comparison to a HDD is the price – hard disk drives are still some of the cheapest storage space that you can purchase. That’s why in some scenarios, if you have a ton of files that you want to store, it might make sense to purchase an external hard drive.

As your internal storage fills up, your laptop will generally tend to slow down, which is another reason why some folk opt for a large amount of SSD storage.


Overall, I think for most people – everyday users, students etc – should probably opt for a laptop with the lowest storage capacity. This is primarily because these are typically the most cost effective options. Obviously if money isn’t that much of an issue, then you can opt for a laptop with a higher storage capacity.

But for many people, 256GB of storage is going to be enough to store all of your files & programs. It’s what I recommend in my list of the best 13 inch laptops. It is unlikely that you’ll be running out of space any time soon with this amount of storage.

When you consider that you’ll probably keep some of your documents in your cloud storage like Google Drive, then you will probably have more than enough space. And if you do need more, you can always purchase an external hard drive.

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About Alex

Hello, I'm Alex and this is my website, Spacehop. I started the site as a way to talk about myself, and a few years later we're now a team of 6! I still work full time at a major PC retailer in the UK, and I'm a bit of a tech whizz (self-proclaimed, unfortunately!).

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