Is 256GB Enough for a MacBook Air?

Quite the question and it all boils down to you! For most average users, this should be more than enough space, but of course, this depends on if you are an average user. 

I have been using a MacBook Air for over a year, and in the tech industry for over three years. I know the ins and outs of what works, and what doesn’t for this device. I’m here not only to answer the question this article poses in depth but also to help inform you further. 

In this article, I’ll teach you all about disk space, why it is important, and if 256 of it is enough. 

Enough of the intro let’s get into the nitty-gritty!

Key Takeaways

  • 256GB of storage for a MacBook Air should be enough for the average user.
  • Solid-state drives (SSDs) are different than hard disk drives (HDDs), and SSDs are much faster.

What Are Hard Drives?

In the days of old, HDDs were the way of the land. Hard drives are where you store all of your memory which includes but is not limited to; pictures, games, documents, folders, etc. It is basically the brain of the computer, which holds all of our memory.

Hard drives have a spinning disk that is used to read and write all of our data, normally when you boot up a system with an HDD, you can hear it whir to life. These are slower, and cheaper in price, but much larger in capacity. 

Solid State Drives are now the new normal. These ditch the spinning disk method for a much faster, and smaller alternative, flash memory. In exchange for the boost in speed and smaller size, the price does begin to balloon up, 

Solid State of Mind

Laptops have slowly become thinner and thinner as time goes on, so the space for an HDD and its spinning disk has become impossible to accommodate reasonably. This is where the Solid State Drive comes in.

As if they could not get any smaller, an NVME SSD is even thinner, and faster than a regular one. NVME SSDs are placed directly in the motherboard, no SATA cable is needed to transfer the read and write data. These NVME drives have become the standard for MacBooks.

(Different SSD Storage options for the latest MacBook Air, as seen on Apple’s official website)

With this speed, comes a price. NVME drives are the most expensive kind, which is the cause for the big price gaps between MacBook models with more space.

How Much Space is 256GB?

To help put things into perspective, 256GB is actually not a lot of space. Especially considering that a good 20GB will be automatically taken by the operating system and mandatory applications that are pre-installed.

This leaves you with about 236GB to use for your own documents, photos, applications, and everything else. If you aren’t mindful of your space, you could run out quite quickly. 

Depending on what you are using your MacBook Air for, will determine just how long you can stretch such a small amount of space.

Is 256GB Enough for MacBook Air?

For most people, 256GB should be just enough to last a decent time. Most photos and documents should not take up much space. The average photo takes up about 3MB, it takes 1,000MB to equal 1 single gigabyte of data. 

So unless you plan on using this for something like video editing, or a profession in which you need to have a lot of documents, photos, and videos saved on your device, you should not run out of space for a while.

Of course, more never hurts. The more space you have, the less you ever have to worry about possibly running critically low on space. The price can be steep for those options, but they are a solid way to make sure your MacBook won’t need to upgrade in the near future.

What If I Run Out of Space?

The likelihood of you running out of space is very high with such a small hard drive size. But don’t worry, there are plenty of alternatives to storing your data!

Cloud storage is a very big alternative that can help alleviate the stress of having such small storage. Things such as iCloud or Dropbox allow you to migrate any of your data, and offload it into the cloud. Freeing up your precious hard drive space!

Portable hard drives are another great, and cost-efficient alternative to working around a smaller hard drive. Portal Hard drives are just that, hard drives that you can plug in and use, just like a regular one. You can offload any data of your choosing onto a portable HDD!


I’ll answer some of your most burning questions about your MacBook Air and its storage space down below.

How many photos could I store on 256GB?

Due to the small file size of most photos, it could take an unrealistic amount of photos to completely fill up 256GB. It could easily be in the thousands and thousands of photos before you even get close.

Is 256GB Good for a College Student?

In my personal opinion, I believe that 256 gigs would be more than enough for any college student. Especially nowadays with the usage of Google Drive for most assignments/essays. 

What is the Lifespan of an SSD?

The average SSD, under regular usage, should easily last 8+ years. Unless of course, unfortunate situations cause the drive to die sooner than expected. Keep that laptop away from your pool party, and you’ll have a nice long time with your MacBook Air and its hard drive.

Final Thoughts

While not the best option for the long term, 256GB should be just enough for the average user. There are a few ways to extend the storage space as specified above (Cloud Storage, and External Storage), that could work wonders for anyone who has more photos than the average joe.

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  • Bev

    I’m gifting my 30-something nephew a new 15 inch MacBook Air. He’s never had a Mac before, and his current computer is obsolete. He just went back to school to learn social work and was startled on his first day of classes to discover that pen and paper were nowhere to be seen, and all students need a computer. So, he told me the 256K SSD would be enough. I doubt that, but he said it was okay and “would get me through grad school”. I think he was just being kind to my budget because he knows its a big deal to buy a new computer. But, i want to do right by him, and 512K seems small to begin with.
    What do you think? Is he right? I’m his 75 year old aunt who’s always had Macs but never used all the storage in my own computer because i bought more than i needed. Bev in Olympia WA

    • Ty Robinson

      Yes, a 256GB hard drive can be considered sufficient for his case Many college students utilize cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive to store and access their files. These platforms provide additional storage capacity that can supplement your local hard drive. You can also use external storage devices like portable hard drives or USB flash drives to expand your storage options. With these options available, 256GB should work just fine!