It quite often happens that in the space of a short while, the same issue rears its head from a number of sources. In this case it was whether buying a cheap computer because of anticipated light usage is a good idea. As so often in the tech arena, the first answer is a resounding, ‘it depends’. However, when it comes to cheap computers, there is a baseline under which it is simply not wise to go.

There are laptop computers currently being sold with 20-30Gb SSD hard drives. Now I can’t remember when I last used a computer with a hard drive that size, but I suspect it may have been around the turn of the century, and it seemed a very large hard drive at the time.

Today a large hard drive is measured in Terabytes. Just putting that in perspective, you would need around fifty-one 20Gb hard drives to store one terabyte of data. 20Gb is a very small hard drive by today’s standards.

‘Ah’, you may say, ‘I only do a bit of Internet searching and emails, I don’t need a very high specification computer’. That’s true, if you don’t make a habit of storing digital photos or video, you don’t need a very large hard drive.

When I tell you that according to Microsoft themselves, 64-bit Windows 10 requires 20Gb of free space on its own, that’s all or most of your hard drive gone right there. The trouble then comes that if you want to use an alternative browser such as Chrome, or use Microsoft Office, or any other program, there’s no space left.

It gets worse. Windows 10 regularly updates to add new features or fix security holes that have been discovered. To do that, it downloads the updates to your computer before it installs the new files. If you don’t have enough space to fit the update files onto your computer hard drive, the update will fail, and short of having someone put a larger hard drive in the computer, there’s little you can do.

I would suggest that 128-256Gb is the smallest hard drive you should contemplate, coupled with 8Gb main memory if possible. It may seem like ‘way more than you need, but experience tells me that’s really the best place to start if you want to keep using the computer for any length of time.