An external hard drive is just another form of a traditional hard drive that is connected to the computer from outside, instead of internal hard drives which are connected directly to your motherboard.
Being outside of your computer makes these drives portable, something which internal hard drives can't offer. Using the former, you can take your data whenever and wherever you want.
Another use case of these external hard drives can be a back-up for your main internal hard drive/SSD, which can be useful if something goes wrong.
Apart from this, you can use these drives for data expansion. So if anyhow your disk space is low, get an external HDD and move some of your less important files and data over there.
I think you have realized by now that having one of these drives is really important. But if you start your research you'll find out that there's a plethora of different hard drives based of storage size, connectivity options, and other things like that.
Here we have already done that hard work for you and listed best external hard drives to expand your PC storage.
All these drives are tried and tested by us, and many other people, so you can be sure about their quality.
Things To Look For In An External Hard Drive
Before we start discussing different types of external hard drives you can get in 2019, let's start some general factors you should consider while choosing an external hard drive
SSD vs HDD
Whenever you're out to buy a storage drive for your PC, the first question coming into your mind will probably be:
Which one is better for me? SSD or HDD?
Both of these storage types are every common these days, but have different mechanisms, and hence, different pros and cons.
Hard Disk Drive (HDD) uses magnetic storage to store and retrieve data and has moving parts in it. These drives have been used as storage devices in computers since the 1960s.
Usually Hard drives consist of a mechanical disk with a read/write head.
3.5" HDDs are generally used in desktops, while laptops come equipped with 2.5" HDDs. Due to the moving parts inside them, HDDs (whether 2.5" or 3.5") aren't as durable as other storage devices.
Major advantage of these drives is the affordability.
Solid State Drives (SSDs), on the other hand, are a flash-memory based storage and have no moving parts inside them. As compared to other storage types, SSDs are more shock resilient, and provide better access time and latency.
That being said, these drives have a couple disadvantages of their own.
First, since flash-based memories store data in the form of electric current, this data can gradually leak over a long period of time. That's why you can't keep different archives in these drives.
Second, these drives are more expensive when compared to hard drives.
Cloud vs HDD
In recent times, cloud storage has also emerged as the main competitor for traditional storage devices, including external HDDs.
Different companies like Microsoft and Google give you online storage which looks really cheap, at least from the surface. You can have as much as 1 TB cloud space in Google Drive for less than 100 bucks per year.
A major advantage of cloud storage is the universal access, but you have to sync those files on every device on which you want them to be - something which can take a lot of your time if your internet connection is slow.
Another factor is the security. Yes, Cloud storage companies are implementing some highly advances security methods but they're still not "unbreachable".
Besides, it feels better to have your data in front of your eyes, rather than on a web sever physically located thousands of miles away from you.
All in all, my vote goes to physical drives. At least for the time being.
Storage capacity is probably the first thing people look in a hard drive. Yet, it's somewhat subjective.
How much space you need in an external hard drive depends on what you're intending to store in that drive.
If all you want is to transfer data from one computer to another, a 250-GB drive should suffice.
On the other hand, if you want to use that drive as a back-up and store all of your data in that drive, don't be afraid to go for 1 TB or even beyond.
Besides, a large-space drive can also be utilized in future if you think it's a surplus right now. So it's a win-win situation for you.
When talking about storage devices, many people think of speed as equally (if not more) important than storage capacity of a device.
The transfer speed of an external hard drive can be determined using two factors.
- Rotation Speed
- Interface/ Connector
Cheaper hard drives feature a 5400 rpm rotation speed while more expensive options can take that number up to 7200 rpm.
Among interfaces through which an external hard drive is connected to your laptop or PC, you have a number of different options.
USB 2.0 connectors are usually found in cheap and old drives, while newer ones come with USB 3.0 and 3.1 Gen 2 interface (with up to 10 Gbps speed).
There are some other external hard drives which don't have a USB connection. Instead, you'll have a Thunderbolt connection capable of transferring data up to 40 Gbps. But this connection is only available in some of the premium hard drives out there.
Durability And Portability
If using an external hard drive as a back-up for your main data is your main purpose, then portability shouldn't be issue for you. To be frank, if this is your main use case, consider getting a NAS storage which will serve you better in this regard.
However, if you intend to move the hard drive from one place to another continuously, look for a small, tough and rugged external hard drive. Many of these drives come with a hard-casing that protects them against an occasional drop or two.
That being said, due to the physical mechanism of hard drives, they aren't damage-proof. That's why you should consider getting an external SSD if you think you'll drop it quite often.
If the data you're about to store in an external drive is confidential by any means, it's better to look for a secure drive. There are many such drives which are compatible to software-based encryption solutions.
These solutions will be enough for most of the users out there, but it want to take security to a whole new level, you can opt for a hardware-based solution instead.
Given that competition is already tough in the hard drives market, different companies try to implement new features to make people buy their products.
Most of the time, these extra features include, WiFi access, better warranty, or faster interfaces.
Whether or not these features are beneficial for you entirely depend upon your laptop or computer. So it's up to you to decide if these bells and whistles being any value to you.
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