A hard drive is a data storage device (usually a HDD) that uses magnetic storage to store and retrieve digital information using one or more rigid rapidly rotating disks coated with magnetic material. Every PC, laptop, netbook, notebook… has a certain amount of memory to hold information. Hard disk drives (HDD) can be internal or external.
The two most common form factors for modern HDDs are 3.5-inch, for desktop computers, and 2.5-inch, primarily for laptHDD. More than 200 companies have produced HDDs historically, the most common ones are manufactured by Seagate, Toshiba, and Western Digital.
We can find other types of drive storage in the market such as Flash memories or in form of solid-state drives (SSDs). SSDs are faster, have better reliability, and can have more capacity. The inconvenience is that SSDs have higher cost due to the fact that they are the new generation of Data storage, they are replacing HDDs where speed, power consumption, small size, and durability are important.
Internally HDDs are connected to the device (PC/Laptop) by standard interface cables such as PATA (Parallel ATA), SATA (Serial ATA) or SAS (Serial attached SCSI) cables.
Now we’re getting to the point, the external drives have different capacities and sizes and are sealed in special boxes where an external USB port can be used. They come in various forms, the 3.5-inch which are usually cheaper, the 2.5-inch and the memory sticks.
Now do you need an external drive? Yes. We do need an external drive to keep our most precious personal data from being lost from our computer or online storage.
Let me explain: Let’s say that you have a computer that has a HDD of 2TB, it’s nice. But what if by mistake your data is erased? What if your computer is hacked and you can’t access your drive anymore? What if you want to duplicate your data in another laptop? What if your internal drive isn’t enough? What if… We could go on and on, it is always advisable to have a backup of your personal data (pictures, videos, bank activities, invoices, movies…) in an external Hard drive.
The size of this drive depends on the quantity of data you’ll be backing up. You might need just 500GB or 750GB or even 1TB, that depends on you. Putting the price aside, the biggest capacity of a HDD is of 10GB while a SSD can reach up to 16TB and the biggest flash drive is of 2TB. But that’s not all if you want to choose a good reliable hard drive.
The writing & reading speed between your PC and your hard drive matters as well. As I’ve mentioned above, the external drives work with a USB port with which you’ll connect to your main device. All of the HDD/SDD in the market work with the USB 2.0, but some have the possibility of using a USB 3.0 as well.
Let me put it simple. We use in our daily tasks many times a day a USB cable, either to charge or transfer data from our phone, tablet, camera or even MP3, they may have different port shapes but it is still USB 2.0 . The USB 2.0 (which is the standard) can theoretically transfer data at a very high 60-480 MB/ per second. That’s impressive, but not as much as the newer USB 3.0, which can handle 640MB/s – 5GB/s —over ten times as fast as the 2.0.
1/ If time matters to you, you should be looking for Hard drives which support the USB 3.0, but you should know that the price is usually a little higher than those working with the USB 2.0.
2/ Some drives give you the opportunity to have a software that protects your data from intruders i.e when you plug the hard drive in a PC, a window shows up asking for a password or a security key (that you have chosen of course) so that if you lose the drive, you’ll be losing just the price of it, not your personal information, as the person finding it will never be able to see your data. This software increase the price of the drive as well.
3/ The guarantee too can mater. Some give you a guarantee of 10 years while others just 1 year. It depends on the material with which it was built. That increases the price as usual.
So my advice to you if you’re planning on buying one (which is recommended actually), make some homework about it.
Remember, all depends on the quality, the capacity, the speed, the size and the built in security that you need:
1/ What are you planning to back up?
2/ Do you need a higher capacity or smaller one?
3/ Do you need speed or size?
4/ Do you need a protection or you’ll be the only one accessing it?
5/ Does the material matter?
6/ Browse in different stores, they may have the same device but with different prices.
7/ Is it cheaper online?
I hope that you have enjoyed this post, and I do advise you to backup all your data into an external drive so that one day you’ll find it ready if needed, and don’t forget to update it once in a while.