We mentioned external Hard Drives last when we told you about useful gadgets for all the bloggers. An external hard disk has really become a necessity for most of us irrespective of our profession. The necessity arises either out of need for more space or the peace of mind when you have a backed up copy of all your important data and those photos you don’t wish to lose. This post will guide you on the process of choosing an external HDD(hard disk drive) that’s perfect for your needs.
The market is flooded with external hard drives from leading manufacturers such as LaCie, Western Digital, Seagate, Iomega etc. They have several models each with varying configurations. This is where most people get stuck wondering which one would be best for them. The chief specifications about a hard disk comprise its size, storage capacity, speed and interface. We’ll discuss each at length.
You should already be familiar with this. Hard drive units are manufactured in two different sizes namely 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch. While you may not be familiar with their sizes what you do know is that the larger ones are used in desktop computers and the former in laptops as internal storage devices. What’s noteworthy is that when you connect them externally, 2.5” hard drives won’t need an additional AC power supply while 3.5” drives do. 2.5” hard drives clearly have following advantages here:
- Compact Size
- Lesser Weight
- No AC Adapter to carry
- More Portable
However, the prices of the 2.5” hard drives are significantly higher as well. We’ll come to that soon.
Decide where you will be using the hard drive. For instance, the one I use at home for backup is a 3.5 inch drive. However, the one I use while travelling for carrying documents and movies is a 2.5 inch because an AC power supply isn’t available in the train or car always.
Nowadays, you can find drives with capacity upwards of 1 Terabyte(1 TB = 1024 Gigabytes) for affordable prices. You will be able to get a 3.5″ drive with greater capacity for the price of a 2.5” drive. Decide what you are going to use your drive for and then calculate what size would be appropriate for you.
Check the size of your backup files and multiply it by three. This is the size you should go for if you’ll be using the drive only for backing up your computer. If you have a vast media library consisting of movies, audio and photos you will have to add that up too. Normally a 1TB drive is good enough for normal users. You could use a partition solely for automatic backups and the rest for your media library.
Though it doesn’t feel so obvious to all of you at first, this is a very important feature and spend some time understanding this. Almost all drives have at least one USB port for accessing the data. The USB 2.0 port is backward compatible with USB 1.1 so that you can use it on the older computers. So why is this important? The interface largely governs the rate at which the data will be transferred. If you move large files such as HD movies often you might want to consider more interfaces. Here is the list of popular interfaces along with the maximum speed of data transfer supported:
- USB 2.0 – 60 MB/sec
- Firewire 400 – 50 MB/sec
- Firewire 800 – 100MB/sec
- eSATA – 375MB/sec
Drives come with different combinations of the above with the USB port omnipresent.
Please note that you must have the port available on your computer in order to be able to use the drive. While most computers have an USB port few have firewire or IEEE1394 ports and even fewer have an eSATA port. For example the Apple Macbooks only have the USB port while Macbook Pro units have a FW800 port available. Macs don’t have eSATA ports as of now.
Identify the ports available on your computer. If you don’t have one don’t be disappointed yet. If you really need higher speeds you can invest in an additional device for your computer that will add the required port, firewire for instance. It will be absolutely worth it.
The three things we discussed above- Size, Capacity and Interface together govern the price of your external hard drive. Consider them carefully and then check out the market prices of the ones that interest you. It’s a wise idea to pick these up during Sale offers. Make sure they offer you a minimum three years warranty on your drive.
We’ll be back soon with full reviews of individual Hard drives and also the prices. Do subscribed and stay tuned.