How to Choose the Right External Hard Drive

How to Choose the Right External Hard Drive

Joelle Alcaidinho
Nov 10, 2010

With backups being as important as they are and digital libraries growing every day, having a solid and dependable external hard drive is key. After our third external hard drive failed in less than 4 years, we decided it was time to put more thought into which external hard drive we will trust our precious backups and media to. Here are our tips for choosing the right external hard drive for your needs.

How will you connect your external hard drive to your computer? Firewire 400, 800, or USB? This might seem like a no-brainer, but with not every hard drive supporting all three common connections you want to make sure you buy the drive with the right connections for your computer.

2.Do you need to take it with you?
With the difference in price between desktop and portable external hard drives being nothing to sneeze at, it's important to evaluate how you will be using your external hard drive. Will you be using this for backups only, or will this drive be the home for your music, photo, and video library? If you are anything like us, you often are working on your laptop from battery power in various areas of the house and while on the go, so having a portable external hard drive is key for being able to work seamlessly from couch to table to plane.

3. Size
Not having all your eggs in one basket is sound advice when it comes to external hard drives. Having been the victim of external hard drive failure we know just how devastating it can be to lose over 1TB of precious digital media. While it might be tempting to reduce clutter and store everything on one very large drive, think about what it would be like to lose that drive and opt for a smaller size and buy two (we're big believers in having a backup for the backup).

4. Brand
Do your research on prospective drives.... are there any known issues for the particular model you are interested in? Is the brand known for reliability? Having lost 3 drives in the past few years from reliable brands, we know that lemon drives can come from anywhere. However, we'll be perfectly honest and say we are much less likely to buy from those makers again.

5. Research Prices
Before you shell out for the drive of your dreams check prices online. It's amazing the price differences for the same drive from different stores and online marketplaces. Recently we were looking at a 1TB external hard drive and found prices for the same make and model varying by over $50...luckily we looked online before we purchased the drive and we were able to use the savings to out towards our holiday shopping.

What's your favorite external hard drive brand?

For more on external hard drives, check out these posts:

(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho)

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