How much data storage do I need at uni?

Essays, presentations, notes. And of course music and films. You need a lot of data storage at uni.

Why do I need external data storage?

Movies, albums, photos. Modern laptops are about more than work. They’re becoming all-round tools for work and play.

Photos, music and video take up lots of space on your laptop’s internal hard drive.

Problems with overloading your internal hard drive:

  • Too many files can make your laptop sluggish
  • Lose everything if your laptop is broken or lost

Keep your laptop running smoothly, and back-up your music and movies with an external hard drive.


What sizes do they come in?

Storage space is measured in megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB).  You can get your hands on hard drives offering anything from 500GB to 4TB of storage.

How much space do I need?

First things first. The type of files you’ll be saving, and how often, will impact how much storage space you need. Basic text files don’t take up that much space; photos and music are a bit larger, and then video.

Essay-writing student: If you’re an English or history student mainly saving text-based essays and notes, plus photos and your music collection, 500GB of storage, will let you save:

  • 8,330 hours of digital music
  • 160,000 digital photos
  • 500 hours of digital video
  • 125 DVD-quality movies

Creative design student: Graphic design projects, illustration, large video-editing jobs. These kinds of files will take up much more space than text ones. You want a larger 1TB to 2TB hard drive.

1TB will give you space for:

  • 16,660 hours of digital music
  • 320,000 digital photos
  • 1,000 hours of digital video
  • 250 DVD-quality movies

Source: Seagate

Desktop or portable hard drive?

Knuckling down at your desk in halls or hitting up the library and coffee shops? This’ll help you device between a desktop or portable hard drive.

Desktop external drives need to be plugged in to an external power source, but they tend to have more capacity than their portable counterparts and you tend to get more storage for your money.

Check out our desktop external hard drives 

A desktop hard drive we love: Super-fast transfers from laptop to hard drive thanks to USB 3.0. A bottomless 5TB capacity. Super-smart controls for storing and sharing files. Why not try the Seagate Back Up Plus.

Portable drives are designed for life on the go. Light and slender, they’re perfect for throwing in your bag or even your pocket,

They’re powered by your laptop, so you can access your files wherever, whenever. Perfect for making last minute changes to that essay in the library.

Portable hard drives can be pricier, but you should still be able pick up something offering 1TB for under £50.

Check out our portable hard drives

A portable hard drive we love: Small enough for some pockets and weighing just 230g, the WD My Passport is truly portable. It’s got a respectable 2TB capacity, and transfers are fast with USB 3.0 compatibility. It’s got great security features too – in case it falls into the wrong hands. Why not try the WD My Passport Ultra 

Transfer files fast with the right connectivity ports

USB 3.0

If you’re storing large videos and graphics you’ll want something with faster transfer and write speeds than if you’re just saving text files.

Moving video and graphic files from your laptop to your hard drive can take quite a while with regular USB. But USB 3.0 can transfer data at 5 gigabits per second – more than 10 times faster than USB 2.0.

Computer or laptop not compatible with USB 3.0? It’s still worth investing as the chances are your next one will be and you can always buy a converter.  


Like USB 3.0 but twice as fast. Thunderbolt was developed by Intel and introduced on all new Apple laptops. 

If you’re working on a MacBook or a iMac then you’re going to want a hard drive that’s Thunderbolt compatible. It’s also compatible with select Windows PCs and laptops.

Think you’re at risk of running out of space? Check out our range of external hard drives.