Is 256 GB enough storage for university? Is 2 TB on a laptop overkill? How do I increase the storage on my MacBook? Questions like these are far too common.
This article will answer all such queries and help you choose the right storage capacity for your laptop.
For the everyday user, 256 GB – 512 GB is the sweet spot. Of course, there are scenarios where it’s not just better, but necessary to go higher or lower than this range.
As such, we’ve discussed in detail, how much storage you’ll need for most purposes, in the article below.
It’s important to account for OS space, especially on systems with low overall storage. Microsoft and Apple both recommend allotting around 32 GBs of storage space for the operating system. Any less may lead to performance issues.
The second thing is the matter of advertised vs. actual disk space. For instance, an SSD advertised as 256 GB is actually only 238 GB in size. This discrepancy is even greater in higher storage capacity media. You can read more about this in the FAQ section at the end.
We recommend keeping these things in mind when deciding on the right storage capacity for your laptop.
Storage Requirement by Usage
We’ve divided the space recommendations into light, medium, and heavy sections. This should help you make the best decision according to your usage intensity, needs, and requirements.
Most casual users use laptops for school/office work, surfing the web, storing some photos, videos, and the occasional game or two. For these purposes, an entry-level laptop with 128 GB – 256 GB of storage space will more than suffice.
Work-related applications such as MS Office suite, Zoom, Photoshop, etc., only occupy a few GBs at most. The same goes for internet browsers and most general-purpose software.
When it comes to storing photos, image size usually ranges from 200 KB – 8 MB. Assuming an average image’s size is 4 MB, 1000 photographs would occupy roughly 4 GBs of space. Even on a 128 GB system, that’s barely anything.
Videos are a bit trickier. On average, an hour-long HD (720p) video will occupy around 900 MBs. For practical purposes, let’s say you’re storing personal videos, movies, and series that add up to 50 hours total – that would be roughly 45 GBs.
A bit more of a dent for sure, but let’s be honest, most people don’t locally store that many videos anymore. Cloud-based services like Netflix are all the rage these days, so videos taking up too much space likely won’t be a concern for most users.
And finally, video games. AAA games require huge storage capacity and regularly make headlines these days with insane sizes of over 100 GBs. But that’s the top of the line. The average game only comes out to around 8-10 GBs, especially if you consider older games as well. In any case, a laptop with 256 GB storage will be plenty for casual gamers.
Certain professionals like photo and video editors, programmers, engineers, etc., require higher-end laptops capable of handling resource-intensive tasks. In addition to powerful processors and GPUs, it’s also important that these laptops have 512 GB – 1 TB of storage space.
As a Computer Science or Engineering student, you’ll likely need to install several virtual machines and test a lot of applications. For these purposes, 512 GB will usually suffice. If you plan to store photos, videos, games, and stuff as well, 1 TB storage might be a better option.
The same applies to graphic designers, video editors, and content creators. For reference, a RAW photo is usually 10-50 MB in size, and a 1080P 60FPS video sizes up to 1GB per minute.
Over time, you’ll rack up a large number of such projects, which will add up to hundreds, if not thousands of GBs. So, 1 TB is absolutely necessary for professional photographers and videographers.
ARK: Survival Evolved, with all the expansions included, can take up almost 300 GBs. Yes, that’s a massive amount of space for just one game!
While ARK may be an extreme example, modern games in general (Elden Ring – 60 GB, Valorant – 20GB) tend to be on the heavier side.
High res vids are no joke either. A Full HD movie usually ranges from 3 – 6 GBs, whereas a commercial Blu-Ray is between 15 – 25 GBs.
The fact is that collecting any sort of media and storing it locally requires quite a lot of storage space. As such, we recommend 2 – 4 TBs if you plan to download a lot of games, movies, and media in general.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Check Laptop Storage Capacity?
On Mac, you can press the Apple icon and select About this Mac > Storage to check laptop storage capacity.
On Windows, you can view the storage details via Settings > System > Storage. Press the View storage usage on other drives to display storage information for all partitions.
Alternatively, you can also press Win + X, select Disk Management from the contextual menu, and view details regarding both allocated and unallocated space from there.
How to Add Storage to Laptop?
You can easily increase the storage on your laptop if you have a free slot to install an internal hard drive or SSD. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible in most modern laptops due to physical space constraints.
You’ll likely need to replace the current storage media with an upgraded one and migrate all the data there. If you’d rather not go through that hassle, an external HDD or SDD is also an excellent option.
Alternatively, you can ditch the physical options entirely and go for Cloud-Based storage. Some reputable service providers in the 1 – 10 TB range include IDrive, pCloud, Backblaze, IceDrive, and NordLocker.
How Much Storage Do I Need On My Laptop For University / Gaming / Video Editing?
For most university goers, a laptop that’s good for writing will be the best choice, with around 256 GBs of storage space. For comp sci or engineering students specifically, you should bump that number up to 512 GB.
Regarding gaming and video editing, as your game library or video projects grow in number, 256 GBs will fill up in no time. For these purposes, we recommend having 1 – 2 TBs of storage space on your laptop.
Is 8 GB RAM Enough For Laptop?
How much RAM your laptop needs depends on what you use the laptop for. For casual usage such as writing/blogging and browsing the internet, 8 GB is plenty. Heck, you’d probably do fine even with 4 GBs for very light usage.
But for more resource-intensive tasks such as gaming, video editing, or programming, you’ll want 16 – 32 GBs.
Why Is My HDD / SSD Space Less Than Advertised?
Advertised space is calculated as a rounded-off number for convenience purposes (1 GB = 1000 MB = 1,000,000 KB and so on), but this isn’t accurate.
As computers use the binary system, the correct values are 1 GB = 1024 MB = 1,048,576 KB and so on. So, in reality, 256 GB is not exactly 256 billion bytes, but rather 238,418,579,101 bytes i.e., 238 GBs. This is where the discrepancy comes from.
The higher the storage capacity, the greater the difference between advertised vs. actual space.
In some cases, you really could be getting less storage space than you’re supposed to if some of the storage space is not in use. To resolve this, you can allocate the unused space via Disk Management.
How Much Storage Do I Need On My MacBook?
MacBooks are shipped with three levels of storage capacity – 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB – further upgradeable at purchase, and aimed at casual, average, and power users, respectively.
The amount of storage you need on your MacBook will depend on your usage habits and where you fall on this spectrum. We’ve detailed light, medium, and heavy usage in the article above.