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Selecting an External Hard Drive

External hard drives have all sorts of uses, so picking the correct external hard drive is essential. External hard drives are built with different purposes in mind. Some external hard drives are excellent backup utilities, while others are better for traveling. Some drives are designed with security in mind, while others are blazing fast for things like loading games and transferring large files quickly.

Portable Hard Drives

Though all external hard drives can be considered portable hard drives, if you intend to travel with an external hard drive a lot, it is best to pick a portable hard drive built specifically for this purpose. An external solid state drive is an excellent portable choice since it has no moving parts. Other brands make ruggedized external hard drives designed to withstand being jostled around. These portable drives that use solid state drives are incredibly fast and have unrivaled transfer speeds. Ruggedized portable hard drives are best when you need a large amount of capacity. Though solid state drives do come in larger sizes, the mechanical spinning disk drives used in ruggedized drives are still the kings of storage capacity.

Capacity and Speed for Any Budget

Portable hard drives do come in non ruggedized, high capacity versions, too. These types of drives are often more affordable at the cost of being less impact resistant. They do offer a wider variety of options, though. For instance, these drives can be tiny enough to fit in your pocket or large enough to need a case to carry them. They can be purchased with slower 5,000 RPM drives or offer extra performance with 15,000 RPM drives. External hard drives come in a variety of interface options, too. For instance, some drives include thunderbolt connectivity that can transfer files as fast as 40Gbps while other USB 3.2 drives can only transfer data as fast as 20Gbps.

External Hard Drives for Backup

One of the biggest reasons people purchase external drives is for backups. External hard drives come with tons of different features today. These features include things like:

  • Attaching your external drive to your router so you can use it anywhere in your home or business
  • Encrypting saved data for personal security
  • Additional hard drives that utilize RAID for data redundancy and safety
External hard drives are a vital part of the 3-2-1 backup rule, too. The 3-2-1 backup rule states that you have three different backups, those backups are on at least two different devices, and one of those devices is stored in a different location. External hard drives make the 3-2-1 backup rule possible. Whether you are worried about personal data safety or you are creating a backup solution for a small business, there are plenty of external hard drives to choose from. Note that there is a fine line between a dedicated NAS and an external hard drive. Many external hard drives have similar features to a full fledged NAS, but they are often more affordable and have less capabilities. Newer NAS devices can often run things like docker containers and servers while pure external drives cannot.

Expanding Game Storage for Consoles and PCs

Gamers are now purchasing external hard drives to store more games and movies on their consoles. Video game systems have limited storage capacity, and upgrading the storage capacity in a video game console is not easy unless you have an external hard drive. External hard drives are excellent for expanding storage on the Xbox and PlayStation devices. If you have a newer console, like a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, you might want to consider an external SSD, but you can also use a traditional spinning driver for additional storage as well.