Do you want to know how to choose an external hard drive? You are on the right spot to know answer of this question. Keep reading the article below.
An external hard drive is a very practical complement to be able to make backup copies of your files. It takes the data you need wherever you go, or simply it is an outlet to free up space on your internal hard drive.
Be that as it may, choosing the most suitable according to the needs of each one is not an easy task, although after this tutorial it will be.
How to Choose an External Hard Drive
When choosing the best external hard drive, some parameters should be taken into account. These parameters will not only lead you to buy a quality product, but also to get the model that best suits your needs:
What will I use it for?
Being clear about the answer to this question is essential, since the type and characteristics of the external hard drive that you need (gaming, backups…) will depend on it.
That is, all the following points will depend on your answer. Each user has particular needs, and not just any model is suitable for satisfying all cases.
Remember that many brands have different series and models for each type of user, thus satisfying everyone’s needs.
What budget do I have?
Another essential question that you should ask yourself after being very clear about the use of your external hard drive, is to ask yourself do you have enough budget to buy it?
If you cannot afford to pay for a hard drive, what you need to do so? You must mark a price range (min and max) and all the models that fall within your range can be analyzed to determine the most optimal according to your case.
The capacity of the hard drive is also keys to consider. A user who wants to do incremental or differential backups, who simply wants to use the hard drive as a large store to store heavy content such as high-quality media, databases, etc.
Some user who wants it simply for documents that they must carry from one place to another, all these users do not need the same capacity.
On the other hand, I recommend you always buy an external hard drive with a capacity greater than your storage expectations, since they are ALWAYS too small.
SSD vs HDD
There are magnetic-mechanical and solid-state type external hard drives, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
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SSD: For the most demanding, since data access (reading and writing) is much faster than HDD. They also consume less power, are more reliable when dropped or bumped, heat up less, are quiet, tend to be more compact, and are not affected by strong magnetic sources.
HDD: For those looking for large capacities at a more affordable price. Another positive aspect of these hard drives is that when they break, data can be recovered in specialized recovery centers. It is not possible with an SSD.
Transfer speed: The transfer speed depends on the internal interface of the hard drive (SATA3, PCIe) and the external connection interface (USB 2.0, eSATA, USB3.0, Thunderbolt…).
It will always be limited to the slowest of them. The higher the transfer speed (measured in MB/s) the faster data will be passed to or from the hard drive.
Internal and External Interface
This may not be that important in principle, but it is beyond the transfer speed mentioned in the previous point.
Many external hard drives can be removed and put in another case so that it can continue working.
The internal interface will depend on the compatibility or the type of case you need to buy. On the other hand, the external interface will also depend on whether you have compatible ports or not. Please note that the USB ports of newer versions and generations are backwards compatible.
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For example, a USB-A 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0 ports, but again the transfer speed will be limited by the slower of the two.
Some external hard drives are intended for desktop use as a static storage medium, so they have larger dimensions and weights.
On the other hand, if what you want is an element that you can easily take from one place to another, you should choose the most compact and light. For example, choose better 2.5″ instead of 3.5″, and better SSD than HDD.
The enclosure material not only influences the robustness of the hard drive or the aesthetic appearance. It is best to choose metal cases whenever that option is given, such as aluminum ones.
In this way, the entire case will become a heat sink to keep your hard drive at more suitable temperatures.
If the casing is made of plastic, a good thermal insulator, it will be more difficult to dislodge all the heat generated inside it and it could affect the disk.
Durability and Reliability
Some external hard drives come with IPxx-certified protection against dust and splashes, as well as rubber bumpers to absorb impact energy to withstand drops or bumps.
But it is also important to take into account the format and size to know if a hard drive will withstand more or less Gs of impact. For example, the smaller and less mass it has, the better.
Therefore, if you are going to choose a magnetic one, the best is 2.5″. But the best thing if you want a robust drive is to choose the SSD, since it can withstand several orders of magnitude of G-forces than an HDD.
Apart from the fact that you can encrypt the contents of your storage unit so that no one can access your data without a password.
There are also hard drives that implement other built-in security measures, such as the possibility of using “padlock” systems with a password to lock them.
This would be highly recommended if you use it for sensitive data and in environments where there are more people.
Of course, external hard drives have great compatibility with a multitude of operating systems or platforms, as it will simply depend on their external interface.
Since most are USB, it will be compatible with almost all SS.OO. One thing to keep in mind, if you are going to use it for gaming on video consoles, is that some series of discs are specially designed to be compatible with these devices for gamers.
On the other hand, they could also be used for Android mobile devices if they support USB OTG.
Some brands include some software on the hard drive itself to be able to make backup copies easily, to manage the storage unit, encryption, etc.
Keep in mind that this software, in the vast majority of cases, is only compatible with Windows.
3.5″ external hard drives will need an external power supply, so they also have an adapter. This is important, because if you plan to use them in places where there are no plugs, to connect it to a laptop, those units will not be among your possible models to buy.
Lastly, the brand is also important. Some like Samsung, Western Digital (WD), Toshiba, SanDisk, etc., are synonymous with quality and good results.
There are also other firms that do not manufacture external storage units, but are simply distributors (Verbatim, Iomega, LaCie…) and buy memories from other companies. Make sure in those cases that the manufacturing company is good.
Faizan Ali is a Master in Computer Sciences and has been writing content for computing, gaming and mobile technologies since 2016. He has written content for number of online magazines, websites and blogs and now writes for “the buyers trend”. Feel free to contact him for any sort of writing for your technology related blog, website or magazine.