A hard drive is a great way to store huge amounts of data, far more than can be saved to most laptops or tablets. Sometimes you need the extra space that only a serious hard drive with terabytes of data will allow.
Most laptops come with limited amounts of hard drive space, around 500GB or less, as they have solid state drives (SSD) inside. External hard drives are a great way to store or back up extra files, especially photos and videos. They can also be useful if you plan to do a lot of moving about and travelling while keeping your key files at the ready.
Here is everything you need to know when buying an external hard drive.
Hard drive brands
The most well-known hard drive brands include Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba and Hitachi, while others such as Samsung, SanDisk and G-Tech also offer sleek and powerful external storage or solid state drives.
Smaller hard drives have less than 1 TB of storage, not much more than you get in some laptops. These are smaller and more expensive but offer faster boot up for files and programs, ideal for use inside a slim and powerful ultrabook or notebook.
If you are a video editor or a photographer you may want several terabytes of storage. Fortunately, hard drive storage is not that expensive to add, and a 4 TB hard drive will set you back less than £200 from some brands.
Jargon buster | Tech terminology
Until recently, most hard drives connected with USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 connections, but now many are moving over to USB-C, which offers 10 Gps of transfer speed, equivalent to twice the speed on offer from USB 3.0. Other forms of connection include wireless transfer to the hard drive.
Although hard drives tend to be pretty reliable there are few comprehensive reviews of how reliable drives are over a long time under strain, and nobody wants to loose years of cherished photos or videos.
Data from Backblaze shows Hitachi and Western Digital drives had some of the lowest failure rates last year, although these stats are largely limited to internal drives. To keep your files safe you may want to buy a more rugged hard drive.
Write and read speed
Read speed is essentially how long it takes to upload files from your head drive, while write speed is how long it takes to save something to the drive.
Most cheaper hard drives will have a fairly modest read/write speed of around 100 to 150 MB per second, not brilliant if you want to load or transfer lots of large video files.