Picking The Right External Hard Drive For Your Needs

External Disk Drives With the continuous surge of available information shared on the Internet, it seems we are all struggling to find enough space to house the huge amount of data on our PCs and laptops.  It is a common scenario for downloaded movies, songs, ebooks, and digital files to bombard one hard drive.  This coupled with the many viruses and spyware that infiltrate computers nowadays, has made backing up important files essential, in order not to lose valuable information.  Leading to the increasing need for external hard drives.

But before you venture out and buy the first external hard drive, you see there are a few things you need to know about these gadgets in order to select the external hard drive most suitable for your needs.

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An external hard drive is a gadget used in storing large amounts of data and transferring those from one computer to the other.  They are connected to the computers through USB ports or cables and are used to back up files found on your computer either temporarily or permanently.  They are similar to the hard drives of PCs and laptops but are detachable and portable.

External Hard Drive Benefits

External Hard Drive Benefits

Storage and Assurance

External hard drives are an excellent backup destination for your digital files.  Where your PC and laptop hard drives seem to have a limited storage space, external hard drives provide you with a storage space at least twice that of computer hard drives.  You can save any sort of data on your external hard drive and carry it with you.   They offer you privacy as they store the data you may not want to be viewed by other people.  With external hard drives, you are also securing yourself from viruses infiltrating and damaging your digital files.

Ease of Data Transfer

Considered to be one of the external hard drives’ strongest advantages is its ability to share digital files on any PC or laptop.  They can easily be connected to any computer and with the same ease, that you can view and share its contents.


External hard drives are very portable. They range from a couple of inches to 3.5” inches, depending on the type of external hard drive. Companies are now becoming increasingly innovative in making them even more compact.

Types of External Hard Drives

USB Drives

They are the most inexpensive type of external hard drive and can store relatively smaller amounts of data, compared to other types of drives. They are small, portable and can be used in any USB port of any PC or laptop. The storage capacity of USB drives ranges from 2GB to 128GB.

Portable External Hard Drive

These come in slim enclosures and possess a larger storage space than a USB. Their 2.5” enclosures make them suitable for those who save large data and are always on the go. They, however, require a power supply to operate and are dependent on the power of the computer. The storage capacity of a portable hard drives ranges from 250GB to 750GB.

Desktop External Hard Drive

Typically bigger than the other two external hard drives and they come with fans to keep them from overheating.  These drives have the largest storage space of 1 TB and above.  Although they may not be as handy as USBs and portable external hard drives, they can however still be unplugged and transported.  They come with an independent power supply to facilitate uninterrupted transferring of data.

External Hard Drive Buying Tips


Select a brand that assures you of its quality hard drives and offers you a warranty. Do not settle for cheaper brands as these will most likely break down earlier than expected.  While they may cost a lot lesser than well-known brands, it will save you more money in the long run. Also, consider the size you are most comfortable with. Generally, USBs are for laptops while other types are suitable for PCs.


How the external hard drive will connect to your computer affects the speed of which it will operate.  For example, if you can only use USB ports then make sure that you purchase one that supports it.  Also, look into the type of USB port you have. If it is below 2.0 then the transferring of files will take time.  Ideally, 3.0 USB ports are best for easy and quick data transfer.


Pick an external hard drive that can find and transfer files in the least amount of time.  The hard drive should be able to find a file, known as a seek time of 10 milliseconds or less.   Should have a buffer size no less than 4MB.  An RPM of around 5400rpm – 7200rpm. RPM stands for Rate Per Minute, meaning how fast the disk spins, the higher the RPM the better.

Storage Space

This is the easiest part of the whole “buying an external hard drive” process.  Simply buy as much storage capacity as you can afford. Use these examples to figure out the storage space you need.

Storage Space

Each 20GB holds up to 5,000 four-minute MP3′s or 2,000 high-resolution digital photos or 50 video games or 20 hours of MPEG digital video.

Then add an additional 50% to your data storage requirements, for future use. When it comes to external hard drive storage capacity, the more storage space the better.

Finally, once you narrow down your choice of the hard drive to a handful of possibilities, a good rule of thumb is to go with the model with the best reputation. Whatever brand or model you decide on, make sure you do some research before purchasing.  Search online for reviews on the model of hard drive you are interested in, to see what others who own it have to say. You’ll quickly get a good idea which one is best for you.

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