WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to external data devices; USB flash drives are a dime a dozen and external hard drives are as common as muck. USB drives are fantastic because they’re uber portable. They’re getting bigger data storage-wise (Data Traveler HyperX Predator will shortly release a 1TB USB 3.0), with sizes hovering around 64GB. But they’re small enough for you to slip in your pocket. You can take thousands of holiday photos with you when you visit a friend, and you can swop massive files at the drop of a hat.

External hard drives are not as conveniently small, but they’re not exactly physical cumbersome either. They’ve shrunk right down to something that can fit in a handbag, and their storage capabilities are also going through the roof (1TB is almost the norm).

Drowning in choice

As more manufacturers enter the market and as more devices are released, it becomes more difficult to decide which one to buy.

Here are four tips to help make the decision easier:

  • Decide if you want your external hard drive to operate with or without a power adapter. You’ll find that 2.5 inch drives are more common and highly recommended because they don’t require a power adapter and they provide more than enough storage space than an average user will need – 250 – 750GB (Joel Santo Domingo – PC Mag).
  • Decide if you want a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD). HDDs are more common and easily affordable. SSDs are relatively rare, mostly because they’re still quite expensive. SSDs are, however, much faster than HDDs and are more resilient because they don’t have any moving parts.
  • Natalia Real (Digital Trends) says that you need to consider your security needs. Will you use your device to store sensitive information? The definition of sensitive depends on you. For example, a businessman might carry critical, confidential business data; while a doting dad might store a photographic record of his kids’ lives, from the womb to marriage. Whatever your definition, you should consider drives that have built-in encryption.
  • Take note of the warranty. PC World says that two-year warranties are increasingly common, but that many manufacturers are now starting to offer five-year warranties. If you’re only looking at a one-year warranty, maybe it’s time to expand your search.

External data storage devices are increasingly common, not only as personal data storage devices, but also as backup devices for business data. Given the range of external hard drives available, it’s important that you do some research into which one will meet your specific needs. And, then shop around for the best deals.

If you’re unfortunate enough to have experienced data loss on an external hard disk drive, please see our page on hard drive recovery.

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