Buying external hard drives: How to Choose an External Hard Drive

How to Choose an External Hard Drive

When it comes to learning how to choose an external hard drive, you need to consider what you want to do with the drive, how fast you need to be able to access the data on it, and how much you have to store on it. There are external hard drives with plenty of physical protection against the elements, external SSDs that give you super-fast data transfer, and huge external hard drives that are better for long-term backups. The best external drives often tick most of those boxes.

If it’s not obvious what kind of external hard drive you need, or you need something that can do a little of everything, here are some more in-depth tips on how to choose an external drive.

Contents

  • Storage capacity
  • SSD vs. HDD
  • Transfer speed
  • Portability and durability
  • Security
  • Compatibility
  • Gaming
  • Extra features

Storage capacity

Arguably the most essential specification to consider when buying an external drive is storage space. It does no good to buy a high-speed device with encryption and remote access if it’s not big enough to store all your data. You also don’t want to pay through the nose for a drive you’ll never even come close to filling.

What size of external drive is best? That depends on you.

If you want a device that’s good for transferring documents, photos, or other media from one device to the other, or just want a few tens of gigabytes of space to transfer files from system to system, a USB flash drive like the Corsair Survivor Stealth, might be a good idea. They’re just $25 and give you 64GB of storage, which is enough to easily transfer thousands of photos or a few hundred videos between devices.

If you need something with a few terabytes of space but aren’t too concerned about speed, then Western Digital’s My Passport Ultra is a great drive with decent performance and multiple terabyte capacities. It’s great for acting as a longer-term backup for your photos and videos, or transferring thousands of them from device to device.

If you need the ultimate in capacity, then look for the Western Digital My Book Duo. It’s more NAS than external hard drive, but with 10s of terabytes of storage space, it’s all the space you’ll need for just about anything.

SSD vs. HDD

External drives are served up in two flavors: HDDs and SSDs. They both do things quite differently, but at the core of it, SSDs are faster than HDDs. They’re more expensive, too.

HDDs (hard drive disk) use spinning magnetic disks to store data. Read/write heads change this data as necessary, so you hear their iconic spinning sounds. SSDs (solid-state drives) use tiny gate transistors in cells that can flip on or off based on electric pulses. They have no moving parts, hence the name.

SSDs are significantly faster than HDDs in many instances, but they get very expensive. HDDs are cheaper, but also larger, slower, and more easily damaged. For external drives, you’ll get the fastest and more durable drive out of an SSD, like the excellent Samsung T5.

Maurizio Pesce/Flickr

Transfer speed

The biggest external hard drives aren’t always the best drives you can buy. Transfer speed is incredibly important, too. If you transfer files back and forth to an enormous drive regularly, you don’t want to wait forever for the transfer to complete.

Two main factors play a role in how fast your drive can operate: The underlying storage technology and the connector it uses.

Although some drives are faster than others, in general, SSDs can process data faster than HDDs. External SSDs tend to be more expensive than their HDD counterparts and often have less storage capacity. You don’t need one or the other, as there are larger SSDs you can buy for a premium price.

In terms of the connection between your external drive and your PC or mobile device, there are several standard options to consider. Most drives today use a USB interface, but the most recent generations have some distinct differences — most notably with transfer speed.

USB 2.0 is an old standard, and if you’re doing anything but making infrequent small file transfers, avoid it — its max transfer speed only reaches 480Mbps. The port is typically not color-coded on PCs.

USB connections beyond 2.0 can get somewhat confusing. You may see specifications listed as USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen1, or USB 3.2 Gen1. All three are essentially the same, providing speeds of up to 5Gbps and typically color-coded blue. Meanwhile, USB 3.1 Gen2 and USB 3.2 Gen2 also are the same, color-coded in red, and offer 10Gbps transfers.

The fastest, USB 3.2, or 3.2 2×2, offers up to 20Gbps.

USB-A is the most common (read: old school) connector type, featuring a rectangular box and a this-side-up-only connection. USB-C is newer, smaller, and more rounded, offering a reversible connector. Piggybacking this port is the DisplayPort protocol for video output. Some connectors use the USB-C port type but operate the Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 protocol with up to 40Gbps in transfer speed.

Some older devices use alternative connectors like eSATA and Firewire, but due to their reduced relevance, they should be avoided.

For the fastest possible external drive transfer speeds, you need a Thunderbolt NVMe SSD, like the Samsung X5.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Portability and durability

If you simply want an external drive for backups stored in your home, network-attached storage (NAS) devices may be a better bet. They typically sit as a stand-alone wired device on your local network, packing multiple drives and storage modes. Promise Technology, QNAP, and Synology are just three manufacturers that specialize in NAS devices.

However, if you want to keep your drive on you when out and about, portability is essential. It needs to be lightweight and small, so you can stuff it in a pocket or bag to access it immediately and quickly. Ideally, you want one that doesn’t require an external power cable, too.

Most external drives are far from weighty, and some are tiny, like the Samsung T5, offering huge digital storage capacity while being physically diminutive. On the other hand, SSDs tend to be a little smaller than their hard drive counterparts because they’re not housing stacked magnetic discs.

Another reason to consider an SSD over an HDD is durability. While modern-day external drives often come equipped with rugged casings to protect them against damage, the two technologies have very different physical makeups. With no moving parts, an SSD is more resistant to drop damage than a traditional hard drive and as a result is considerably more durable.

For a drive that’s really durable, consider something like the Lacie Rugged.

Security

If the data stored on your external drive is sensitive in any way, encryption is a good idea. Many drives are compatible with software encryption solutions, and those are fine for most people.

For those who take their data security more seriously, you want to find a drive with hardware encryption. If you’re extremely safety conscious, you could even opt for a physical security system like the pin-code input on the Apricorn Aegis Padlock drive.

Some drives ship with strong casings to prevent physical tampering. While Kingston’s Ironkey flash drives don’t offer the same storage capacity as full-scale drives, they have a secondary security layer embedded in the printed circuit board (PCB), dipped in resin. This design makes it hard for anyone to physically access the memory chips inside the drive.

Compatibility

Out of the box, external hard drives are regularly formatted for a specific operating system. For example, an external drive formatted for Windows 10 may have problems working with MacOS, and vice versa. Some hard drives are formatted specifically for Linux, too.

This setup isn’t irreversible, however. You can reformat a hard drive or partition it to have different capabilities. But if you want to avoid the hassle, make sure the external drive is compatible with the target operating system.

Seagate

Gaming

Want an external drive for on-the-go gaming or to augment a console’s storage? Your needs may be slightly different from the average user.

Here SSD speed is even more critical, as a slower drive can increase waiting times and game responsiveness. Xbox Series X and S owners can utilize the Seagate Expansion Card, to emulate its fast internal storage. Other external SSDs can be used for older Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, but not Xbox Series S/X games.

You only can play Sony PlayStation 5 games on its internal SSD for now, though you can play PS4 games on an external SSD or HDD. They load far faster on an SSD, so it’s worth using one over the PS5’s faster USB-C connection, if possible.

Some models, like the Silicon Power Armor A60 drive, also have built-in storage for cables and military-grade protection, which are nice extras if you take your data with you on the go.

Extra features

Despite having covered all the bases on your product research, you’ll also want to consider any extra features before making your purchase.

One feature you’ll want to look for is an extended warranty. This can help cover the cost of a new drive if this one fails, and some companies, like Seagate, have packages to help you recover your data for a reduced fee.

You also should take note of the kinds of cables that accompany your drive. Some newer phones and laptops use USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 connections, but the drive you want might include a USB-A cable. If that’s the case, you can still purchase that drive, but you’ll also have to buy a different cable or an adapter, which will add to your overall cost.

It’s also worth checking out newer drives that have cutting-edge features such as USB cable charging capacity and the ability to connect to Wi-Fi.

Editors’ Recommendations
  • Ends tonight: This 4TB external hard drive is discounted to $90

  • How to combine PDF files on Windows, macOS, or the web

  • How much RAM do you need?

  • Perfect for photo and video, this 12TB external hard drive is $85 off

  • How to add external games to your Steam library

The Best External Hard Drives for 2023

In an era when gigabytes of cloud storage cost a mere few dollars per month, and trim, slim external SSDs are getting cheaper, external hard drives, based on spinning platter disks, might appear less essential than they once were. But modern ones are faster, more stylish, and often more durable than their counterparts from a few years ago. They’re ever more capacious for the money, too. For about $50, you can add a terabyte of extra storage to your laptop or desktop by just plugging in a USB cable.

Choosing an external drive isn’t as simple as buying the most expensive one you can afford, however. The drive capacity is the most important factor to consider, and it can increase or decrease the cost dramatically depending on your needs. Other factors include the physical size of the drive (is it designed to be carted around, or to sit on your desk?), how rugged it is, the interface it uses to connect to your PC, and even what colors it comes in. This guide will help you make sense of these and many more questions that arise while you’re shopping for an external hard drive.

First off: We’ve outlined below our top picks among external hard drives we’ve tested. Read on for our labs-tested favorites, followed by the buying basics you should know when buying an external drive. Our article concludes with a detailed spec breakout of our top choices.

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

Western Digital My Book

Best Overall Desktop Hard Drive for General Storage

4.5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

If you’re addicted to downloading videos and snapping up every game you can find online, chances are you need inexpensive, voluminous storage to house it all. The Western Digital My Book, now available in capacities up to a whopping 22TB, can hold thousands of hours of video, or millions of MP3s or photos. With a good mix of capacity, pricing, and performance, it’s a shoo-in as an Editors’ Choice pick for desktop external hard drives.

Who It’s For

Most of us need a large repository for our data files, including the scads of pictures we’ve taken over the years, music files, and those downloaded movies we’ve been meaning to watch. The Western Digital My Book is an excellent choice to store them all, offering tremendous capacities at a low cost per gigabyte. .

PROS

  • Comes in a variety of large capacities.
  • Three-year warranty.

CONS

  • Requires external power adapter.

GET IT NOW

Learn More

Western Digital My Book Review

Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch

Best Budget Portable Hard Drive

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch provides a touch of class in a market rife with dull, plastic-encased storage devices, standing out in a category that has long reached commodity status. This portable, spinning hard drive has a rare trait in mobile tech: texture. It’s covered with a woven fabric that makes it feel like a familiar, friendly object in your hand.

Its performance is on point for a platter-based drive. And with Seagate’s Toolkit utility, users can set up backup and sync plans and restore data, and enable security. It’s easy to password-protect the Ultra Touch, and your data gets protected with the essentially uncrackable 256-bit AES hardware encryption.

Who It’s For

This drive is well worth the money for Windows or Mac users. If you’re looking for a secure, affordable hard drive that can compete with the best of them, the Backup Plus Ultra Touch is a solid pick with a warm, fuzzy side.

PROS

  • Fabric-covered enclosure.
  • Small and light.
  • Seagate Toolkit provides handy backup/recover functions, as well as mirroring.
  • Data protected by password and AES-256 hardware encryption.

CONS

  • Fabric cover a bit slippery to grip.
  • Seagate Toolkit a separate download.

GET IT NOW

Learn More

Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch Review

WD My Passport (5TB)

Best High-Capacity Portable Hard Drive

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

Its combination of solid performance, hardware encryption, and useful utilities makes the 5TB WD My Passport a strong contender for everyday backup of sensitive data or storing a massive collection of videos, photos, and documents. Slightly rounded edges and ripples give the My Passport drive both the look and the feel of a consumer gadget. The ripples also make it easy to grip the device.

Who It’s For

The 5TB WD My Passport is a product of the manufacturer’s added effort to make a simple plastic box look attractive. Add a choice of colors, a size that can fit in a shirt pocket, a range of capacities from 1TB to 5TB, and easy-to-find discounts from list price, and the WD My Passport is a clear standout and our Editors’ Choice pick among high-capacity portable hard drives.

PROS

  • 5TB is peak portable single-drive capacity.
  • Small and light.
  • AES-256 hardware encryption with password.
  • Ships with apps for backup/restore, reformatting and checking drive health, and more.

CONS

  • At list price, the 5TB version has a higher cost per gigabyte than the 4TB version.

GET IT NOW

Learn More

WD My Passport (5TB) Review

Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub

Best Desktop Hard Drive for Gamers

4. 0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

With the Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub’s jumbo capacity (up to 16TB), you can fit scads of games, movies, and other material on it. While you may want to load and run the latest games off a faster SSD, the FireCuda Gaming Hub is a great desk addition for backing up and archiving your collection. With the 16TB version, you should be able to store up to several hundred AAA titles. It’s more of a classic desktop external hard drive than a gaming centerpiece—with just two downstream ports, its “hub” cred is pretty weak—but look at it as a bottomless box for your bytes with some connectivity benefits.

Who It’s For

Most gamers should be able to store their entire collection on the Gaming Hub. Despite its name, the Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub is also good for storing movies, photos, and most any other files you might want to store. And it fits in with any gaming setup with its cool RGB lighting.

PROS

  • Immense capacity options, particularly the 16TB model tested
  • Low cost per gigabyte
  • Tasteful, showy RGB lighting
  • Mature software suite

CONS

  • Single-drive design can’t approach basic SSD speeds
  • For a hub, could use another port or two

GET IT NOW

Learn More

Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub Review

WD Black P10 Game Drive

Best Portable Hard Drive for Gamers

4. 0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

With the ribbed appearance of a corrugated shipping crate, the WD Black P10 Game Drive’s styling gives it the appearance of a container you (or your enemies) might use for cover in the wasteland of one of the games you might store on it. If you appreciate the gamer aesthetic, the P10 is an obvious choice over more vanilla offerings like the WD My Passport or the Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch.

That said, as a platter-based hard drive, it’s best equipped to store a game library; you’re better off loading the games you’re currently playing from an SSD. If you conservatively figure an average game size of 100GB, the 4TB version tested here can hold about 40 titles, serving as the stylish main repository of your collection for years to come, and for a much more modest outlay than you’d spend on an SSD of similar capacity.

Who It’s For

The WD Black P10 Game Drive is primarily for gamers to store a game library and who appreciate the edgy shipping-container aesthetic that’s a common motif in post-apocalyptic FPS games (and a few such movies as well). It’s also cost-effective compared with using an SSD to house your library.

PROS

  • Sturdy, compact design
  • Good grippability
  • Appealing gamer aesthetic

CONS

  • USB Type-C cable not included

GET IT NOW

Learn More

WD Black P10 Game Drive Review

LaCie 2big RAID

Best Desktop Hard Drive (RAID) for Creative Pros

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The LaCie 2big RAID external hard drive, aimed squarely at videographers, photographers, and other content creators, earns kudos for design excellence in both looks and features. The handsome gray and black case houses two spinning-platter drives—4TB each in the 8TB version we tested. You can configure the 2big so your computer sees it as two separate 4TB drives, as a single 8TB drive with faster performance, or as a 4TB drive that’s automatically mirrored or backed up to the second. You can also hot-swap drives, easily sliding an old one out and a new one in with no tools, without turning the LaCie unit off.

The LaCie 2big RAID array promises the reliability and delivers the performance benefit you’d expect from 7,200rpm platters, magnified by the default RAID 0 setting, while the optional RAID 1 setting is available if you want data redundancy. (A JBOD mode is also available if you don’t want to use RAID.)

Who It’s For

The LaCie 2big RAID desktop array offers cavernous capacity to creative types and others who need to store and work with massive amounts of data. Available in capacities up to 16TB when we reviewed it, it has since added even higher volume, up to a monstrous 40TB.

PROS

  • Can use RAID 0 for higher speed and capacity, RAID 1 for drive mirroring, or JBOD (RAID off).
  • Five-year warranty with five years of Data Rescue recovery.
  • Drives are hot-swappable.

CONS

  • High price per gigabyte.
  • Need to download utilities to manage the drive.
  • Kensington lock slot secures only the case, leaving the drives easily removable.

GET IT NOW

Learn More

LaCie 2big RAID Review

ADATA HD710M Pro External Hard Drive

Best Rugged Portable Hard Drive for Windows Users

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

There are rugged hard drives, and then there’s the ADATA HD710M Pro External Hard Drive. Its IP (ingress protection) rating of IP68 for dust resistance and waterproofing (in the last case, submerged up to two meters for up to one hour) matches the best rating of any hard drive or SSD we have reviewed. The ADATA HD710M Pro also has grips and channels around the edges of the drive to keep the detachable USB cable tethered to the drive at all times, even when not plugged into the USB connector.

Who It’s For

The ADATA HD710M Pro is a good choice for outdoor workers, as the drive is able to take a tumble, and keep out water, sand, and dust. It comes in at a better cost per gigabyte than its solid-state brethren as well.

PROS

  • Durable in drop tests.
  • Good dollar-per-gigabyte ratio.
  • Trim enclosure.
  • Lightweight for a ruggedized unit.
  • Cable storage around the edges.

CONS

  • Camouflage exterior may not be for everyone.
  • Plastic housing only.

GET IT NOW

Learn More

ADATA HD710M Pro External Hard Drive Review

SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD

Best Rugged Portable Hard Drive for Mac Users

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD is a cost-effective, semi-rugged external hard drive available in capacities up to 5TB. As a spinning (5,400rpm) platter drive, its speed can’t compare with an SSD, but it should work well for travelers or mobile workers who need lots of capacity for the spend. With a rubber bumper and internal shock mounts, the ArmorATD is rated to survive up to 1,000 pounds of pressure or a drop from 3.3 feet. Its ingress protection (IP) rating of IP54 promises some security against sand and rain. It comes formatted in Mac-friendly HFS+, one of two formats (along with APFS) compatible with the macOS Time Machine backup system. If you only have a Windows computer, you could (carefully) reformat it to NTFS, but you would probably be better off getting a hard drive already formatted in NTFS or exFAT.

Who It’s For

Like other products in the SanDisk Professional line, the G-Drive ArmorATD is strongly geared to Mac use. It’s best for traveling Mac users looking for a drive that can withstand a tumble or a rainstorm and want better capacity for the price than they would get with an SSD.

PROS

  • Rugged enough to protect from the elements, with rubberized sheath and port cover
  • Attractive design
  • Ideal for use with macOS
  • Both USB-C and USB-A cables bundled
  • Competitive pricing

CONS

  • Lacks software suite and hardware-based encryption
  • Requires reformatting for use with Windows

GET IT NOW

Learn More

SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD Review

iStorage DiskAshur DT2

Best Security-Minded Desktop Hard Drive

4. 0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

With cavernous capacity and a minuscule cost per gigabyte compared with security-centric SSDs, the iStorage DiskAshur DT2—a desktop-style hard drive—is a formidable solution for corporations, institutions, and agencies needing to keep sensitive data safe. With a slew of protective features and boasting an impressive set of certifications, this PIN-authenticated external drive is easy for authorized users to access but impervious to attempts by outsiders to break in. As a desktop hard drive, it is not USB-powered, but instead must be plugged into its included AC adapter. As it will generally be used in an office or server room setting, it lacks any ruggedness features to speak of—the protection it offers is from human threats.

Who It’s For

The DT2 isn’t slim or portable like many external drives—in form, it’s a classic desktop spinning hard drive. But it is easy for authorized users to unlock and access using its built-in keypad, and it has a slew of security features and certifications to assure you it’ll keep bad guys out. If you need to store and protect large volumes of data, this is a great choice.

PROS

  • Immense capacity
  • Low cost per gigabyte for a security-centric drive
  • AES-XTS 256-bit full-disk hardware encryption
  • FIPS 140-2 Level 2/3, NCSC CPA, NLNCSA BSPA, and NATO Restricted certifications
  • Easy for authorized users to unlock

CONS

  • No protective case or ruggedness features
  • Low score in PCMark 10 benchmark for everyday storage tasks

GET IT NOW

Learn More

iStorage DiskAshur DT2 Review

LaCie Mobile Drive (2022)

Best-Designed Portable Hard Drive

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

Sporting a tasteful silver-and-black chassis, the LaCie Mobile Drive (2022) is a mildly redesigned version of the company’s external hard drive that we reviewed in March 2019. Available in capacities up to 5TB, the new drive is easy to set up and use. Its LaCie Toolkit software enables backup, restore, and mirroring. Its touch of style brings a slightly higher cost than other external spinning hard drives, however.

Who It’s For

The 2022 iteration of the LaCie Mobile Drive is a good choice for anyone who values capacity over speed, and who appreciates a rare touch of elegance in a platter-based hard drive. It costs a tad more per gigabyte than much of its platter-based ilk, but less than SSDs of equivalent capacity.

PROS

  • Sleek design
  • Available in capacities up to 5TB
  • LaCie Toolkit software handles backup, restore, and mirroring
  • Three-year access to data recovery service
  • Compatible with Windows, Macs, and iPads

CONS

  • Relatively pricey
  • Low PCMark 10 overall test score

GET IT NOW

Learn More

LaCie Mobile Drive (2022) Review

Buying Guide: The Best External Hard Drives for 2023

Hard drives may get you more capacity for your dollar by far, but first you need to consider a major difference in external storage these days: the hard drive versus the SSD.  

Solid-state drives (SSDs) have fewer moving parts than traditional hard drives, and they offer the speediest access to your data. Unlike a conventional disk-based hard drive, which stores data on a spinning platter or platters accessed by a moving magnetic head, an SSD uses a collection of flash cells—similar to the ones that make up a computer’s RAM—to save data.

Just how much faster is it to access data stored in flash cells? Typical read and write speeds for consumer drives with spinning platters are in the 100MBps to 200MBps range, depending on platter densities and whether they spin at 5,400rpm (more common) or 7,200rpm (less common). External SSDs offer at least twice that speed and now, often much more, with typical results on our benchmark tests in excess of 400MBps for the slowest ones. Practically speaking, this means you can move gigabytes of data (say, a 4GB feature-length film, or a year’s worth of family photos) to an external SSD in seconds rather than the minutes it would take with an external spinning drive.

Not only is it faster to read and write data stored in flash cells, but it’s also safer. Because there is no spinning platter or moving magnetic head, if you bump the SSD while you’re accessing its data, there is no risk that your files will become corrupted and unreadable.

(Credit: Molly Flores)

Still, while external SSDs are cheaper than they were a few years ago (see the best we’ve tested at the preceding link), they’re far from a complete replacement for spinning drives. Larger external drives designed to stay on your desk or in a server closet still almost exclusively use spinning-drive mechanisms, taking advantage of platter drives’ much higher capacities and much lower prices compared with SSDs.

And portable hard drives can be a great value if what you need is raw capacity above all else. You can find a 2TB portable hard drive with ease (possibly even a 4TB one, depending on the day) for less than $100. A 2TB SSD, though? Expect to pay at least two to three times as much as you would for that 2TB hard drive. And let’s not even talk about the cost of 4TB and 8TB external SSDs.


Should I Get a Desktop Drive, or a Portable One?

If you have a large media-file collection—perhaps you are a photo or video editor, or maybe a movie buff—you’ll likely need several terabytes of space in which to store it. In that case, your best option is a desktop-class hard drive. We define these as having one or more spinning-platter drives inside and requiring a dedicated power cable plugged into AC power to work. (Of course, in this scenario, your files are going to have to stay at your desk.)

(Credit: Molly Flores)

A desktop drive with a single platter mechanism will typically use a 3.5-inch drive inside and comes in capacities up to around 20TB. Most are roughly 5 inches tall and 2 inches wide. In addition to storing large media collections, these drives can also serve as inexpensive repositories for backups of your computer’s hard drive that you schedule, using either software that comes with the drive or a third-party backup utility.

The next size up for consumer desktop drives is about the same height but twice as wide, to accommodate more than one platter-based hard drive mechanism in the chassis. These larger models are more expensive but also much more capacious—think 24TB or more (in that case, populated by two 12TB drive mechanisms). In the case of these and single-platter-drive products, you’re not meant to swap out the drive or drives inside.

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

The largest desktop drives are often much, much bulkier than the first two categories, so big that you’ll want to stick them under your desk or in a dedicated server closet. They’re mostly intended for professional use in editing studios, surveillance control rooms, and the like. Their defining characteristic is the ability to swap drives in and out of their multi-bay chassis easily, so most provide quick access to the drive bays at the front of the device.

Most such multi-bay devices are sold without the actual hard drives included, so you can install any drive you want (usually, 3. 5-inch drives, but some support laptop-style 2.5-inchers). Their total storage capacities are limited only by their number of available bays and the capacities of the drives you put in them. The storage industry refers to these (as well as smaller-capacity externals as a whole) as DAS—for “direct attached storage”—to distinguish them from NAS, or network attached storage, many of which are also multi-bay devices that can take two or more drives that you supply. (See our separate roundup of the best NAS drives.)

At the other end of the physical-size spectrum are portable drives. Hard drive-based portables make use inside of the same kinds of platter-drive mechanisms used in laptops. These are called generically “2.5-inch drives,” though they are actually a smidge wider than that. Any portable platter-based hard drive should fit easily in a purse or even a coat pocket. As a rule, portable drives get their power from the computer to which you connect them, through the interface cable, so there’s no need for a wall outlet or a power cord/brick.

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

The best way to gauge relative value among similar portable drives is to calculate the cost per gigabyte, dividing the cost of the drive in dollars by the capacity in gigabytes to see the relative per-gig price. Example: A $60 1TB (1,000GB) hard drive would run you about 6 cents per gigabyte, while an $80 2TB (2,000GB) drive would work out to about 4 cents per gigabyte.


Need Redundancy or Extreme Speed? Consider a RAID-Enabled Drive

If you buy a larger desktop drive with two or more discrete spinning-platter drive mechanisms inside, you’ll almost certainly have the option to configure the drive as a RAID array using included software. Depending on which RAID level you choose, you can prioritize capacity, speed, or data redundancy, or some combination thereof.

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

A collection of spinning drives configured with a RAID level designed for faster data access can approximate the speeds of a basic SSD, while you should consider a drive with support for RAID levels 1, 5, or 10 if you’re storing really important data that you can’t afford to lose. Hit the link above for an explanation of the traits and strengths of each RAID level. Some require you to sacrifice raw capacity for data redundancy, so you’ll want to pay attention to the nuances of each level.


Which Drive Interface Should I Get?

How an external drive connects to your PC or Mac is second only to the type of storage mechanism it uses in determining how fast you’ll be able to access data. These connection types are ever in flux, but these days, most external hard drives use a flavor of USB, or in rare cases, Thunderbolt. 

Right now, the fastest connection type in wide use on hard drives is Thunderbolt 3, which is handy assuming you have a newer laptop or desktop with a Thunderbolt 3 port. (Thunderbolt 4 is found on most new Macs and some new PCs, but drives that use it are not yet common.) Both Thunderbolt interfaces piggyback on a USB Type-C connector (not all USB Type-C ports support Thunderbolt, though) and offer blazing peak throughput of up to 40GBps. As a bonus, a desktop drive that supports Thunderbolt might also come with additional DisplayPort and USB connections that allow you to use the drive box as a hub for your keyboard, mouse, monitor, and other peripherals. (See our explainer Thunderbolt vs. USB-C: What’s the Difference?)

You’ll only see the speed benefits of Thunderbolt, however, if you have a drive that’s SSD-based, or a multi-drive, platter-based desktop DAS that is set up in a RAID array. For ordinary external hard drives, Thunderbolt is very much the exception, not the rule. It tends to show up mainly in products geared toward the Mac market.

A desktop hard drive with a single platter-based mechanism inside, or a portable hard drive, is far more likely to make use of plain old USB instead. Almost every recent drive we have reviewed supports USB, and the same goes for laptops and desktops. USB ports are ubiquitous, and many external drives now come with cables with both rectangular USB Type-A connectors and oval-shaped USB Type-C ones to enable adapter-free connections to PCs that have only one type. If the drive includes only a single cable, you may need an adapter, depending on your computer’s available USB ports. Be mindful of that.

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

In addition to their physical shape differences, USB ports on the computer side will variously support USB 3.0, 3.1, or 3.2, depending on the age of the computer and how up to date its marketing materials are. You don’t have to worry about the differences among these three USB specs when looking at ordinary hard drives, though. All are inter-compatible, and you won’t see a speed bump from one versus the other in the hard drive world. The drive platters’ own speed is the limiter, not the flavor of USB 3.

The only case with hard drives where the USB standard matters much is if you connect a drive to an old-style, low-bandwidth USB 2.0 port, which is better reserved for items like keyboards and mice. (Also, if it’s a portable drive, that USB 2.0 port may not supply sufficient power to run the drive in the first place, so the speed shortfall may be moot. ) Any remotely recent computer will have some faster USB 3-class ports, though.


Is a Rugged Hard Drive Worth It?

If you carry your drive around frequently, you’ll want to pay attention to how rugged the drive is. Some models include plastic bumpers, and some even meet military standards for shock and dust protection. (Look for support for specifications such as IP67 or IP68.)

And of course, if you’re carrying your drive around with you, you want it to look nice. Some come in multiple colors, while others are super-slim and ready to be tossed in a pocket.

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

Perhaps the only thing you don’t need to pay all that much attention to is the warranty. Sounds counter-intuitive, perhaps? Sure, a long warranty is nice. But if your drive breaks because you dropped it, the warranty likely won’t cover that, anyway. Even if the drive fails because of a manufacturing defect, most warranties simply replace the drive and don’t cover the cost of recovery services that attempt to rescue your data from the broken drive. The real value lies in what’s on your drive, not the drive itself.


So, What Is the Best External Hard Drive to Buy?

Also know that you can find external drives that do way more than just store your data. Some include SD card readers to offload footage from a camera or drone in the field, while a few specialized models have built-in Wi-Fi and can double as a little media server, able to connect to more than one device at a time. 

To get you started in the right direction, below are the best external hard drives (platter-based models) we’ve tested of late, at a variety of prices and capacities. They’re a fine starter mix for your research. Bear in mind that most of them come in a range of capacity options, so know that even if the specific model we tested is too big or small for your needs, the drive maker may well offer it in a more fitting size. And don’t forget to explore our recommendations for the best external SSDs as well, if you need more speed than a platter-based drive can offer.

Best SSDs in 2023: External Hard Drive Ranking

HDD is available in two form factors — 2.5″ and 3.5″. 2.5″ is a compact design with a maximum memory capacity of 5TB. But 3.5 “are stationary external hard drives, most often requiring additional power. It is provided either via USB directly while the disk is running, which is extremely rare, or through an additional power cable. In the second case, the hard drive will two cables are inserted at the same time: one is for transferring information, the second is for powering the disk.0005

Selection criteria

Memory size. For HDD, it can reach 24 TB. For SSD, this figure does not exceed 8 TB, and the cost for such a volume will be higher – up to 30,000 R. You should also take into account that SSD has a limit on the number of overwrites on the disk. So at some point it will just stop working. But HDD does not have such a drawback. It is important to note that the real volume will always be less, since there is pre-installed software on the hard drives, which takes up space – up to 2 TB with a large amount of memory.

Today, if you need a lot of memory, it is cheaper to buy several smaller external drives than one device with 20 TB at once. This is not the most convenient option, but an archive split into several parts reduces the chance of losing the entire library at once.

For 2.5″ HDDs, the write and read speeds do not exceed 140 Mb/s. This will only be enough for data storage. Speeds up to 250 Mb/s are found only in drives with a 3.5″ form factor. This is already enough to run some programs.0005

Connection interface. Even the fastest hard drive won’t deliver its full potential if plugged into the wrong connector.

Here’s how interfaces and data read speeds differ:

  1. USB 2. 0 is an obsolete interface with very slow write and read speeds, up to 60 Mb/s. But it is still on the market.
  2. USB 3.0 is the current interface installed in more devices on the market. Read and write speeds up to 640 Mb/s.
  3. USB 3.1 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Gen 2.2 are high-speed data transfer interfaces up to 1280 Mbps for today’s laptops and tablets. There are two types – Type-C and Type-A.

You can tell USB 2.0 from USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 by color. Most manufacturers make USB 3.0 ports on computers and wires blue.

If the computer has USB 3.0 installed and the hard drive has a speed of 1280 MB/s or higher, the drive will run at the speed of the computer interface.

The Type-C port can support Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 with transfer rates up to 5 Gb/s and 40 Gb/s respectively. But it is worth noting that not all wires are suitable for this standard, and laptops work with Thunderbolt 3 and 4. Without two-way support for this standard, this speed cannot be obtained. Modern hard drives are not capable of delivering the maximum data transfer rate for Type-C.

Therefore, buying a hard drive with a higher read and write speed without a suitable connector on the computer does not make any sense.

Backup button. There are many external hard drives with the ability to back up the necessary information without manually copying it. The kit comes with proprietary software with data recovery settings. This is a useful feature for those who frequently overwrite information on discs. Separately rendered button greatly facilitates this process.

Data protection systems. There are two types of protection systems: software and hardware.

First is a pre-installed program on an external drive. Most modern external hard drives have it. But even if the manufacturer has not provided such protection, you can install its alternative yourself and for free.

The hardware security system is either a pin code panel or an integrated fingerprint reader. Separately from disks, such protections are not sold.

Impact resistant. Often, HDDs are equipped with a shockproof silicone coating on the case. Such a body slightly softens the fall and reduces slip, so that it is more difficult to brush off the table.

How to choose a hard drive that fits exactly

There is also IPX water and dust protection.

But SSDs are not so afraid of falling, so it is not necessary to choose special protection for them.

I have compiled a list of the best hard drive manufacturers in my opinion, in the model range of which you can find a great device for recording and storage for any task:

  • Transcend;
  • Toshiba;
  • Samsung;
  • Western Digital;
  • Adata;
  • Seagate;
  • Lacie;
  • Silicon Power;
  • SanDisk;
  • Kingston;
  • Netac;
  • HP.

Of these, I chose seven that fit the nominations

  • The fastest HDD
  • The fastest SSD
  • The largest SDD
  • The largest HDD
  • The most secure disc
  • Cheap disc with dust and moisture protection
  • Do It Yourself

Our recommendation

Fastest HDD Fastest SSD
Seagate Expansion 10TB Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 500 GB
Large memory capacity and relatively fast write speed One of the most high-speed models in a compact body – even fits into a jeans pocket
In Itogo – 22 799 R;
on Yandex Market — 20 620 Р

Alternative – Western Digital WD Elements Portable

On “Ozone” – 29 872 R;
on Yandex Market — 18 770 Р

Alternative – Netac ZX20 1TB

Largest HDD Largest SDD
Western Digital WD Elements Desktop, 18TB SanDisk Extreme Portable V2 4TB
Great for archiving: low speed but huge memory Versatile: High Read Speed, Large Capacity, Shock, Dust, and Water Resistant
On Yandex Market — 51,773 R;
in Citylink — 49 390 Р
In Wardena — 49,169 R;
on Yandex Market — 43 989 Р
Most secure disc Impact disc with dust and moisture protection
Samsung T7 Touch 2TB Transcend StoreJet 25h4, 2TB
Equipped with a fingerprint scanner and a password to protect your data. Very compact for external hard drives External hard drive with 3-way anti-shock system and quick backup button
In “Sdack-shopping” – 27 657 R;
on Yandex Market – 23 900 R

Alternative – Toshiba Canvio Advance 1TB

On Yandex Market — 5698 R;
in Citylink – 5690 R

Alternative – Silicon Power Armor A65

Self assembly version
Chassis – HDD/SSD Orico 2139C3-CR, external drive – Netac SA500 1TB SATA NT01SA500-1T0-S3X
Housing on Yandex Market — 1690 R;
external drive on Yandex Market — 4233 Р

Fastest HDD

Seagate Expansion, 10TB

Large storage capacity and relatively fast write speed

In Itogo – 22 799 R;
on Yandex Market – 20 620 R

Alternative – Western Digital WD Elements Portable

Fastest SSD

Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 500 GB

One of the most high-speed models in a compact body – even fits in a jeans pocket

On “Ozone” – 29 872 R;
on Yandex Market — 18 770 R

Alternative — Netac ZX20 1 TB

The most capacious HDD

Western Digital WD Elements Desktop, 18 TB

An excellent option for archiving: low speed, but a huge amount of memory

Yandex Market — 51,773 R;
in Citylink — 49 390 R

Largest SDD

SanDisk Extreme Portable V2, 4TB

Versatile: high read speed, large capacity, shock, dust, and moisture resistant

Wardena R49,169;
on Yandex Market — 43,989 Р

The most secure drive

Samsung T7 Touch, 2 TB

Equipped with a fingerprint scanner and a password to protect data. Very compact for external hard drives

In “Sdack-shopping” – 27 657 R;
on Yandex Market – 23 900 R

Alternative – Toshiba Canvio Advance 1TB

Dust and Water Resistant Shock Drive

Transcend StoreJet 25h4 2TB

External Hard Drive with 3-Piece Shock and Quick Backup Button

On Yandex Market — 5698 R;
in Citylink – 5690 Р

Alternative – Silicon Power Armor A65

Self-assembly variant

Enclosure – HDD/SSD Orico 2139C3-CR, external drive – Netac SA500 1 TB SATA NT01SA500-1T0-S3X

Enclosure on Yandex Market – 1690 Р;
external drive on Yandex Market – 4233 Р

But we do not distort or embellish the reviews. The choice of specific things does not depend on whether we receive a commission.

Product reviews in Tinkoff Magazine are independent. We make a verdict based on reviews of things and devices that we carefully studied, or how these things performed during editorial tests.

For reviews, we either request products from the manufacturer for a test, or we buy them ourselves, or we study reviews in other publications and user opinions. Our reviews are subjective, but honest and expert: opinions are written by authors who have more than one review behind them. The editorial team of Tinkoff Magazine double-checks the texts, proofreads them and conducts fact-checking.

All prices are at the time of publication of the material, but we update them periodically to keep the reviews up to date.

From Rs 20620

Fastest HDD – Seagate Expansion 10TB

Large external hard drive in 3.5″ form factor 9.09TB actual storage capacity. Massive capacity suitable for archiving a large number of documents. Equipped with an interface USB 3.0

Read and write speed for HDD is impressive: on average, according to customer reviews, the read speed reaches 245 Mb / s, the write speed is about 240 Mb / s. 1 m cable and charging cable with adapters for different types of sockets

Of the minuses, we can note the dimensions. This is definitely not a portable device: weight – 1.7 kg, size – 125 × 178 mm. Judging by the reviews, it is quite noisy, the disc buzzes and vibrates a little when recording. Users also note a noticeable heating during operation. And this is not the largest amount of memory that can be found on the market.

What should I do if my computer slows down?

How much:

  • in Itogo – 22 799 R;
  • on Yandex Market — 20 620 R.

Alternative. Western Digital Elements Portable, if the 3.5″ fixed form factor is not suitable. This is a 2TB portable external drive, about 240MB/s read and 262MB/s write, with USB 3.0. Size two times less than that of Seagate Expansion. 0

From 18 770 R

Fastest SSD : Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 500GB

Compact external hard drive with Thunderbolt 3 support. The volume is not outstanding – 500 GB, but it should be borne in mind that it is often quite enough for operational tasks. In fact, this is a large flash drive with a very high speed of reading and writing files.

The gadget has an all-metal compact body, comparable in size to the iPhone 14 Plus Max, and weighs only 150 g. The read speed is 2700 Mb / s, the write speed is 2200 Mb / s with Thunderbolt 3 on the computer and when supported by a wire.

The drive has overheat protection and optional password protection.

This is a great option if you need an external drive for quick file access that fits in your pocket and won’t be shocked. Of the minuses, only that the declared write and read speed is only available with Thunderbolt on a computer and a suitable cable.

How much it costs:

  • at Ozone – 29 872 R;
  • on Yandex Market — 18 770 R.

Alternative. Netac ZX20 1TB with USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C. It also boasts the presence of Thunderbolt, due to which the read and write speed reaches the same values ​​as the Samsung X5. The size resembles a standard flash drive.

How much it costs:

  • in DNS – 8199 R;
  • in Online Trade – 8100 R.

From 49 390 R

The most capacious HDD – Western Digital WD Elements Desktop, 18 TB

Desktop external hard drive, form factor 3.5″, 18 TB of memory. Equipped with USB 3.0.

30 and 40 MB/s read and write speed is standard HDD speed. The device is intended only to significantly expand the computer’s memory – it is an external drive for archiving a large amount of data.

How much:

  • on Yandex Market — 51,773 R;
  • in Citilink – Rs. body and large Memory. The drive is made in the form factor 1.8″. Equipped with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C interface, the kit includes an adapter from Type-C to Type-A.

    Read speed – 1050 Mb / s, write – 1000 Mb / s. In terms of dimensions and weight, it can be compared with the iPhone 13 mini. Data can be password protected thanks to the built-in software.

    This model is drop-resistant up to two meters, dust- and water-resistant. The design hints at the conditional ability to become a hiking option, there is even a convenient eye for a carabiner. This is the best hard drive option for professional photographers and anyone who often carries large amounts of data with them. The only thing users don’t like is the cost – twice as high as most of the drives on our list.

    How much:

    • in Wardena — 49 169 R;
    • on Yandex Market — 43 989 R.

    Alternative. Adata SE760 2 TB. It has Type-C and excellent data transfer speed. Ideal for everyday use, but without additional protection. For the cost of one SD Extreme Portable, you can purchase at least three SE760s that are in no way inferior in terms of performance.

    How much:

    • in KNS – 13 594 R;
    • on Yandex Market – 13,436 R.

    From 23,900 R

    The most secure drive is Samsung T7 Touch, 2 TB

    SSD in the form factor 1.8″, slightly larger than a bank card. At the same time, the read speed reaches 1050 MB / s, the write speed is 1000 MB / s.

    This device has a fingerprint scanner so that no one can open the disk with your personal data. It comes with two Type-C to Type-A cables to connect to your computer.The all-metal body is shockproof.This is a professional device that is ideal for those who need a high level of file privacy.

    The best power banks: 4 quality models for different tasks

    Many people do not like the price, but it pays off with an additional level of protection.

    How much it costs:

    • in “Sdack shopping” – 27 657 R;
    • on Yandex Market – 23 900 R.

    Alternative. Toshiba Canvio Advance 1TB. Standard SSD with built-in software. Instead of a scanner, there is a device for entering a pin code. Approximately the size of an iPhone 13 mini – 109× 78 mm. A more budget option with personal data protection. Transcend StoreJet 25 h4, 2 TB

    Cheap and popular hard drive. The amount of memory is decent – 2 TB, form factor 2.5″. Equipped with USB 3.1. Read and write speed – about 90 Mb / s. .Three-piece shock protection system consists of a rubberized silicone case, an internal drive hanger, and a rugged hard shell.0005

    The StoreJet 25M3 has a one-click automatic backup button.

    Users often complain about defective goods – this hard drive is best to check immediately upon purchase.

    How much:

    • on Yandex Market – 5698 R;
    • in Citylink – 5690 R.

    Alternative. Silicon Power Armor A65 1TB. Even more protection against water, dust and dirt than Transcend. Of the differences – there is no backup button and a smaller volume.

    How much:

    • on Yandex Market – 4389 R;
    • in Citilink – Rs. It is also suitable for those who have a hard drive from an old computer and want to convert it into external portable storage. True, this option will take more time and effort than a regular purchase.

      Special knowledge and skills are not required. You need to buy a special external case and the internal SSD or HDD itself.

      The list of internal SSD manufacturers will be larger than external SSD manufacturers, AMD, Dell, HP, Fujitsu, Intel will be added to them. It’s better not to stop there, since their internal hard drives are designed to work inside laptops and are much more expensive. It is better to use disks from the same manufacturers that are in the list at the beginning of the article.

      There is an option not to buy a new SSD, but to take it from an old laptop. The assembly price of a new device will eventually be about 2-3 thousand – this is the cost of the case – which is ten times cheaper than most of the options from our list.

      Best Standalone Smartphones: 7 Successful Big Battery Models

      It is important to clarify which output connector is installed in the case. Current connectivity options that can be found in cases: Type-C, Type-A, USB 3.2 Gen 1, Gen 2 and higher.

      The outer case is selected based on the form factor of the hard drive: 1.8″, 2.5″ or 3.5″.

      same form factor – 2.5″. There are also internal M.2, mSATA and PCI-E SSD types. They do not have a plastic shell, and they look like a bare board with chips.

      Chassis – HDD/SSD Orico 2139C3-CR, form factor 2.5″, with USB 3.1 Type-C. On Yandex Market you can find one for 1690 R.

      External drive – Netac SA500 1TB SATA NT01SA500-1T0-S3X 2.5″ form factor On Yandex Market – 4233 R.

      It is necessary to open the case, pull out the pencil case. Carefully insert the SSD inside the case until the SATA pins are fully connected. Often the assembled gadget is immediately displayed when connected to a computer, but there are exceptions. This instruction is only suitable for devices with Windows OS.

      On the computer, open the “Disk Management” section or press the key combination Win + R and enter the command diskmgmt.msc in the input field. After that, you must agree with the proposal to initialize the hard drive. If the initialization window does not open, you need to start disk initialization manually: find an uninitialized disk, right-click on it and select the “Initialize Disk” section.

      After initialization, the external drive will say “Unallocated”. Next, follow these steps:

      1. Right-click on the disk and select “Create Simple Volume”. The “Create a Simple Volume Wizard” will start – click “Next”.
      2. A window will open showing the size of the volume. The data that will be shown depends on the size of your drive. You do not need to change anything in this window – just click the “Next” button.
      3. A window will open with the assignment of a drive letter. Assign a letter, for example L, then click Next.
      4. The next window is formatting the partition. In the “Volume label” field, you can enter the name of the new disk, for example “Excellent disk”, and click the “Next” button.
      5. In the next window, click the “Finish” button. After a while, the new external hard drive will be formatted and will appear in the computer’s explorer – it’s ready to go.

      The price depends on the purchased SDD and chassis. In our case, the purchase of two devices on Yandex Market cost 5923 R.

      How to choose an external hard drive

      1. Decide why you need it. If you need a device to increase the memory of a desktop computer, the best option is HDD. The device will last much longer with frequently changing data. And the volume will be three or four, and maybe ten times more than that of SSD. For rarely overwritten files of small size and with the ability to read quickly, an SSD is suitable. It is not scary to carry it with you, it is smaller than an HDD.
      2. Compare prices. HDDs are cheaper than SSDs, and they have a longer service life, but they write and read information much slower.
      3. Check the computer connector. So, if your computer only has legacy USB 2.0, make sure your hard drive is compatible with it.
      4. Pay attention to protection if you are going to carry a disc with you a lot. If you have to work outdoors, there are models with protection against moisture and dust. But remember that a hard drive is a fragile device, you should not place high hopes on a protected case.
      5. If you have an old laptop SSD, you can build your own external hard drive. In other cases, when the choice is between a ready-made external solution and buying a drive and a case separately, everything does not depend so much on the prices of components, you need to analyze each specific case.

      We post circles, beautiful cards and news about technology and pop culture in our telegram channel. Subscribe, it’s great there: @t_technocult.

      How to choose an external hard drive for your computer, laptop, TV and other devices

      Author Sergey Pochekutov Reading 5 min Published
      Updated

      One of the main problems of any computer is the lack of free space on the hard drive. Modern programs, games and high-quality multimedia files take up a fairly large volume, so if you need to store them somewhere or transfer them to another device, users face serious difficulties.

      The use of removable flash drives in this case is not always justified, so the main means of solving the problem is to purchase an external hard drive. Let’s see how to choose an external hard drive so that the issue of storing and transferring data no longer causes you unnecessary thoughts.

      Contents

      1. Size and form factor
      2. Interface and write speed
      3. Environmental protection
      4. Additional features
      5. Operating rules

      Volume and form factor

      The volume of an external hard drive is one of the main characteristics that users pay attention to. This indicator largely depends on the form factor.

      There are currently two main sizes:

      • 3.5″ PC solution (up to 20 TB).
      • The

      • 2.5″ is ideal for laptops and other portable devices (up to 4TB).

      An external hard drive does not have to be mobile: now you can also find stationary models that are large in size and often equipped with an external power adapter, as they are characterized by high power consumption.

      Remember, if portability is your priority, choose a 2.5″ drive. If you are chasing volume, then look at models with a size of 3.5 inches.

      Do not forget that the actual volume is always slightly less than the declared one. For example, if you have a 500 GB disk, only 465 GB will be available for recording. Be sure to consider this feature when choosing a hard drive!

      Interface and write speed

      The main interface for connection at the moment is USB 3.0. The main fundamental difference between this interface and its predecessor (USB 2. 0) is the expansion of the bandwidth up to 4.8 Gbps.

      Under certain conditions, this gives a threefold increase in speed. Simply put, if you are recording large files (such as high-resolution movies), you will spend three times less time on it than when transferring data using the legacy USB 2.0 interface.

      If you are looking for maximum compatibility of your hard drive with other devices, choose a hard drive that works with a USB 2.0 or 3.0 interface.

      Other interfaces available: eSATA, Ethernet, Thunderbolt, FireWire. However, they all have one common drawback – a low level of compatibility with other devices. Not every computer or laptop is equipped with such interfaces (especially Thunderbolt, FireWire and eSATA), so you may find yourself unable to connect your external hard drive to transfer data.

      Protection from external factors

      Since the hard drive is not inside the system unit or laptop case, it is important that its components are protected from external influences. This protection must be provided by the case, which is usually made of plastic or metal (sometimes with the addition of other materials).

      The choice of case material is largely determined by how you are going to use the external hard drive. If you are buying it for a TV to connect and watch movies pre-loaded from a computer, then you can stop at the plastic case.

      If you expect the hard drive to travel with you often outside the home, then it is better to opt for a metal case.

      The maximum protection can be provided by a special cover that will save not only from mechanical impact, but also from moisture. Sometimes manufacturers put such a cover complete with an external hard drive, but if necessary, it is purchased separately.

      Options

      Speaking of covers, we have already touched upon the topic of additional devices and features that the user gets at his disposal along with an external “hard”. However, there are still some useful “chips” that you may find useful. In particular, we are talking about proprietary software.

      To increase the comfort of work, some manufacturers pre-install convenient utilities on their external hard drives that help manage the data stored on the hard drive.

      For example, some models are equipped with programs to automatically create a backup copy, which can be used if necessary to recover lost information.

      There are special power-saving programs that automatically turn off the power of the hard drive when it is idle, as well as utilities that allow you to encrypt data. The presence of additional software must be specified in the specification for each specific model, since this parameter is constantly changing.

      Rules of Use

      You have made your choice, purchased the right device and are now ready to use all its functionality to the maximum. But in order to prolong the life of the external “hard” and, accordingly, your joy from using it, you need to follow a few simple rules:

    • Only use the Safely Remove button to remove an external drive.