When you buy a new Mac, there are just some questions that are more difficult to answer than others. One of those questions is how much storage do you really need? In the case of a new Mac purchase, how you plan to use the computer and what you need it for weigh heavily in your purchase decision. So how do you decide? Here are some of the factors you should be considering.
What Are Your Choices?
Before we get into how you make a storage choice, let’s take a look at what your choices are. The 2020 MacBook Air makes the storage question a little easier, as it now starts off at 256GB. That’s more than enough storage for the average computer user and likely enough for most professional work. You can purchase up to 2TB with the Air. The 13-inch MacBook Pro also starts at 256GB with storage options maxing out at 2TB, similar to the Air. Apple’s premium 16-inch MacBook Pro starts off at 512GB and then jumps to 8TB with a multitude of options in between.
Things are a little murkier for the 21.5-inch iMac, as you start with a 1TB hard drive but also have a 256GB SSD available as a purchase option. The iMac Pro is definitively a “Pro,” so storage unsurprisingly starts at a 1TB SSD and caps out at a 4GB SSD. Finally, the Mac Mini also starts off with a 256GB SSD with options ranging up to a 2TB SSD. As you can tell, the days of 128GB storage for all-Mac computers are over. That’s good news, but it still doesn’t answer the question of which storage option is right for you.
Where to Look
The best way to get a sense of how much you need is to determine how much you are currently using. On a Mac, it’s super easy:
1. Click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner.
2. Select “About this Mac” and then “Storage.”
1. Click on the “Start” button.
2. Select “File Explorer.”
3. Find and click on “This PC.”
Getting a look at your existing storage use is a great predictor of how much space you will need for the future. However, adding space to a Mac laptop after purchase is virtually impossible without voiding your warranty, so it’s a good idea to default to the next size up.
Should I Buy 256GB, 512GB or Larger?
If you are trying to decide between these two sizes, start by asking yourself some simple questions.
1. Do I plan to keep every photo and video I capture on my Mac hard drive?
2. Do I like to download movies or TV shows and keep them available for watching at any time?
3. Do I not want to worry about having enough space for applications?
4. Do I need more space to edit photos or videos?
The answer to those questions might seem simple, but they are difficult when you remember that you are purchasing something you cannot upgrade. If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, purchase the 512GB. The $200 or so that it costs for the hard drive upgrade is well worth it when you factor in the lifespan of ownership. If you are genuinely concerned about never running out of space, the TB (terabyte) options are available and will serve you well for the whole lifespan of your Mac.
Can You Make It with 256GB?
Are planning to get the base 256GB model? Assuming that your Mac is going to be filled with catalogs of music, photos, applications, and likely videos you own, rented or captured, and on top of all of that you also want room for future projects, like Mac gaming or video editing, suddenly the base 256GB storage doesn’t look big enough.
The trick here is to optimize the storage on your Mac. As much as possible, offload all those files that you have little use for to the cloud storage or external drive.
Choosing the right storage size is never easy. The good thing is that all Mac models come with a base storage of 256GB. The bad thing is, it doesn’t make the decision any easier. Ultimately, choosing the right storage size depends on whether you have needs for the space. Think about what you really want to do with your computer over the next few years and let the answer be your guide.