Most people require a huge amount of data storage these days, what with the music required to fill an iPod and the size of high quality photographs from a digital camera, so it’s a good idea to find the best external hard drive for your needs to free up space on your computer and make sure that you never lose any of that all-important data.
There are three reasons to get an external hard drive; to free up space on your computer, to make sure none of your data ever gets lost, and to easily share files between computers. Most external hard drives are pretty easy to use. Generally, you simply plug them into the computer and use it in the same way that you would use any other drive on your computer. Simply copy and paste or drag and drop files to move them around. At the moment, there are quite a few desktop external hard drives that are based on the 3.5-inch internal hard drives that you’ll find in a PC, as well as portable external hard drives that are based on the 2.5-inch internal hard drive type. To choose the best one for you, have a look at these external hard drive reviews and list of the best external hard drives around at the moment that function well and are value for money.
Don’t think you need an external hard drive? Well actually more and more people are realising the benefits of external hard drives all the time. Because they are so simple to use, they make for a very easy back up system. Just think of all those hours you would have to spend burning data onto DVDs otherwise! They also speed up the performance of PCs and laptops by freeing up space on them. While they come in many different forms, portable hard drives tend to be small, light and compact with storage capacities of somewhere around 500GB. Desktop external hard drives on the other hand are larger and sometimes designed to be propped up on the desktop in the way that a computer tower stands. These ones tend to have a greater capacity that the portable version, but are a little more unwieldy to carry around.
What to Look For
There are literally hundreds of portable external hard drives on the market at the moment. While they all do generally the same thing, there are a lot of important differences between the individual hard drives. While some have been created with appearance in mind and look great on your desktop, others have been designed to be able to deal with large file transfer, and yet others have been designed with durability in mind. When rating the different external hard drives around at the moment, we decided to use the criteria below. Through this, we came to the conclusion that the best drives are currently the Western Digital My Passport Essential, Clickfree C2N and Transcend StoreJet 25M3. For more information on just what’s so great about these particular drives, have a look at our articles on best external hard drive reviews.
The performance is a vital aspect when judging the merits of external hard drives. When we talk about performance, we’re talking about the transfer speed and storage capacity of each drive and the technical specs that determine how the drive actually operates and performs. When we’re talking about transfer speed, we talk about it in terms of megabytes per second (MBps) or gigabytes per second (GBps). Even though drives sometimes advertise a certain transfer speed, this doesn’t mean that they’ll actually perform that way. The storage capacity of a drive is expressed in gigabytes and means the maximum amount of files that the drive can hold. We concentrated in our comparison on 500GB models, but most of the drives we examined also come in various other storage capacities.
The physical design of a portable hard drive is actually very important. They need to be built to be easily carried around and need to achieve a certain level of durability that means they can withstand being shaken around in a bag or perhaps accidentally dropped. In the design section, we examined the weight, shape, size and housing material of each drive. We also considered the aspect of how the drive is powered; whether it’s powered through USB or needs an actual power source of its own.
We also considered the interface connectivity of each external hard drive in our line up. When we talk about ‘interface connectivity’ we mean the actual way that communication is established between hard drive and computer. This is sometimes a USB interface, which simply means it is connected by a USB cable to the computer. Some external hard drives also have FireWire or eSATA interfaces.
While performance and design are of course vitally important when comparing external hard drives, other features are still something to be taken into consideration. Other features we looked at were such things as security features such as data encryption and password protection. If you’re going to be travelling around with a disk like this, it’s very important that strangers aren’t able to access your personal data. We also considered other aspects such as the backup software, drop protection and plug-and-play operation.
Help & Support
Another important aspect to consider is the help and support that is offered by the manufacturer on their website or other support forum. This includes considerations such as the length of warranty of each hard drive and what troubleshooting advice is available.
With these helpful side-by-side comparisons and reviews you’ll soon find the best hard drive for you. For extra help with your search, we’ve listed our top ten favourite portable external hard drives for all-round performance and usability.