Gaming is getting more and more expensive. When my parents bought me my first shooter game, they were really reluctant, since they thought it was expensive. They were shocked when I told them how much it cost. So, my parents bought me a gaming computer, which was also a lot more expensive than I thought. However, I quickly found out that it was worth the money. I got way better than I was with my laptop.
Beyond physical and data storage size – Clients have always asked us to provide them with as much storage as possible. While we initially focused on optimizing our backend to increase maximum data storage size, we soon realized that the clients were looking for more than just a high data storage limit. They wanted access to unlimited storage, and to be able to easily access any file they created or saved in the past without worrying about storage limits.
Storage management usually comes down to selecting a predetermined amount of data needed for a particular use of the computer, whether it’s a laptop or a desktop. Gamers usually need an SSD with fast access time and large capacity. For document archivists, a cheaper but larger hard drive remains the traditional standard. Here we look at how you can choose an external hard drive that not only looks good, but also has enough storage capacity.
In addition to system storage, whether that’s an SSD, hard drive, or a combination of the two, there’s another option laptop users should know about immediately: external storage. Of course, it is technically simpler than NAS (Network Attached Storage), for example, and therefore not always optimal for data storage, but it is worth choosing a device that meets your needs. In this article, we’ll cover the technical knowledge needed to choose the best option.
Reasons to consider external data storage
For many people, including businesses and government agencies, the primary external storage solution has always been NAS or something functionally similar. The main reason for this is that it is a central data center that can be easily accessed at any time by any device or equipment that is authorized to handle its files. This can be done on the same network at home or in the office, or on the internet as private cloud storage. It is also possible to open it from different devices at the same time, and sometimes even work on the same file together.
So why use plug-n-play external drives? As paradoxical as it may seem, there are still some specific data management applications that the NAS can’t do effectively, and a good old-fashioned external hard drive can do the job just fine:
- Free and unlimited portability – yes, everyone saw this coming from miles away. Large, cumbersome NAS systems can be accessed anywhere there is an Internet connection. But an external hard drive can easily be physically moved around like a glorified USB stick. No problems, no fuss.
- Exclusive machine access – Do you want exclusive access to your files on a machine? Well, your NAS is bound to share it with anyone who has access to it, maybe even those who shouldn’t have access. If your computer is free of malware and the like, your external hard drive need not fear unauthorized access in the same way.
- Not VPS dependent – In the event that your virtual private server used to provide cloud storage has a sudden problem (malware attack or security breach), your permanent connection to the (presumably modifiable) file may be compromised. With an external hard drive, there are no such problems unless your USB port or cable is faulty.
- Always Connected to the Internet – One level worse than the previous one, the NAS still requires the user to be connected to the Internet. If you are using a slower connection speed, it can have a significant impact on the progress of your work. On the other hand, it’s probably the same if you’re using a traditional USB 2.0 as a data port for an external drive. These are the fast external drives we recommend.
- – Cheaper for what you need – if you only need the drive and its capacity, why spend an extra thousand dollars on the digital box alone? Just get an external hard drive and edit your latest photo shoot at the nearest Starbucks.
- Dedicated storage for backup and gaming – You can use your external hard drive as a backup drive for a PC with the appropriate backup software or a Mac with Time Machine. As soon as you connect the external drive, the pre-configured software starts working and automatically backs up your personal files to the connected device. The same goes for game consoles. Xbox or PlayStation consoles use external storage for game data and games. Manufacturers even offer external storage for games.
- An alternative to subscription-based cloud storage – If you don’t like recurring costs and dependence on cloud storage, an external drive is your solution. It won’t be easy to give up on a cloud storage plan if you are completely dependent on it for all your files. As your files grow, for example. B. photos or videos, you will likely have to pay a high monthly fee that takes into account the additional cost of storing your files on a cloud server. Transfer it to external storage, keep a backup on your desktop or server, and you have a completely secure solution that rivals the cloud in availability and security.
- Wide choice – there is a wide range of options available, in all shapes and sizes, with different interfaces, storage capacities and speeds. You will be spoilt for choice. Use our guide to choose one of the best external hard drives currently available.
To select an external disk: Technical specifications and related considerations
The specifications of data storage drives, recognizable to the average consumer, are fairly straightforward, as with any other storage medium. However, there are some obvious differences to consider, especially in terms of port configuration:
- Storage capacity is the amount of data that can be stored on one external drive. The minimum volume is 1 TB, the typical maximum is 4 or 5 TB. Cost effective storage is usually around 2TB, but again, it depends if you need that extra storage immediately or not.
- Memory type – can be a bit confusing due to the relative similarity of form factors. But yes, external drives also exist in SSD or HDD. External SSDs are generally much more expensive and can offer faster data transfer speeds than traditional external drives. However, this is less of a problem, since the maximum speed of conventional USB 3.0 is (theoretically) only 5 Gbps.
- Interface Types – For modern external drives, choose at least one SuperSpeed USB port (USB 3.1 Gen 2 with a maximum speed of 10 Gbps or USB 3.2 Gen 2 with a maximum speed of 20 Gbps) for more efficient use of your external SSD. USB 4.0 is still in its infancy and is not yet widely used, but it offers high bandwidths of up to 40 Gbps. Thunderbolt-based drives are also available. The flow rate also depends on the generation of the device: Thunderbolt 1 up to 10 Gbps, Thunderbolt 2 up to 20 Gbps and Thunderbolt 3 up to 40 Gbps. Note that these interface speeds are all theoretical. The actual performance of the disks is determined by the actual data transfer rate, also called the read or write speed.
- Security options – Nothing stops an unauthorized user from simply plugging in the drive to gain physical access. So it’s worth considering an external hard drive with one or two easy-to-use data encryption features. More sophisticated readers use a fingerprint sensor or numbness to decrypt and unlock files.
- Form factor – Is the drive thin? Practical? Does it come with a shockproof case? You may also need to consider the color and design if you want to match it with your regular desktop or laptop. The physical size of the hard drive, the space it takes up on your desktop, is also a consideration. The design and construction of the chassis and enclosure should also be considered under this heading. The current trend is towards tamper-resistant, shock-resistant, drop-resistant and water-resistant models.
- Operating Temperature – This setting is usually only important if the external drive is constantly in the vicinity of a significant heat source (such as a laptop fan).
- Connectivity – USB 3.0 is practically standard these days. But, as we mentioned in the sections on storage types and interfaces, other USB 3.0 standards can go beyond the traditional USB 3.1 Gen 1 port. The Type-C connector is now used for both Thunderbolt and USB interfaces with backwards compatibility. These are smaller, reversible USB ports for faster and easier connection. In any case, make sure that your system has the required connection for this data rate.
- The optimal configuration is the last point you need to pay attention to, because this is where it all comes down to. By this we mean the station, the cables and the connectors. Start with the interface you have on your laptop or desktop. Does it support USB 3.1 Gen 2 or higher? Thunderbolt 2 or 3 ports and have their maximum bandwidth. Then look for an external drive with this interface and the storage capacity you need. Finally, make sure you have the right cable, adapter and connector to connect the storage device to the system. USB Type-A and USB Type-C are quite common. Older versions of Thunderbolt 1 and 2 use a Mini DisplayPort connector. The new Thunderbolt 3 and 4 use a USB-C connector, marked with a Lightning icon next to the port.
Best recommendations for external hard drives
Of course, most external hard drives look the same, but there are still a few standout models that you can buy for more specific use scenarios:
1. Western Digital My Passport Ultra (up to 5 TB)
An external hard drive that also serves as bread and butter. Compared to My Book and Elements, WD’s other two popular families of external hard drives, this drive offers a good balance of features and price.
WD 4TB My Passport Ultra Blue at Amazon
- Compatible with USB-C and USB 3.1
ALSO: Seagate’s portable external hard drive (HDD) with up to 5TB capacity is the equivalent of an affordable and portable USB3.0 external hard drive (HDD) from Seagate.
Seagate portable external hard drive at Amazon
- USB 3.0/2.0
- Maximum data transfer rate up to 120 MB/s
2. Samsung T5 external SSD (max. 2 TB)
Bread and butter external SSD. In use, it offers excellent data transfer speeds with the right data transfer equipment. In addition, the fact that it is a reinforced USB flash drive makes it even more durable. Very expensive, though.
SAMSUNG T5 portable SSD at Amazon
- USB 3.1
- Data transfer rate up to 540 MB/s
ALSO: An alternative to the Samsung model mentioned above is the Seagate Barracuda Fast SSD, which also achieves transfer speeds of 540 MB/s. It has a flat, square cube profile with rounded corners and a floating accent with a maximum capacity of 2 TB.
Seagate Barracuda Fast SSD at Amazon
3. Buffalo Thunderbolt MiniStation (up to 2 TB)
This option is for those who need an external hard drive with the fastest transfer medium currently available. Current Thunderbolt 3/4 ports can achieve 40 Gbps throughput with the right hardware.
Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt USB 3 on Amazon
- Two connections: USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3 (maximum transfer speed 10 Gbps)
4. LaCie Rugged External Hard Drive (up to 5 TB)
Adata has its own catalog of inexpensive shock drives, but they don’t compare to the simplicity and reliability of LaCie’s shock drives. These are certified data collection devices for extreme sports that you can take with you anytime, anywhere.
LaCie Rugged USB-C on Amazon
- Data transfer rate up to 130 MB/s
ALSO: If you like the look of the aforementioned USB-C hard drive, Thunderbolt USC-C and RAID Pro/Shuttle SSD versions are also available with transfer speeds up to 510 MB/s and 250 MB/s respectively.
iStorage diskAshur2 external disk (up to 5 TB)
If you are concerned about access security, this is the external hard drive to try. It has an insane numeric keypad – everything for the most sophisticated PIN verification system in portable media. The device is waterproof and available in four bright colors.
iStorage diskAshur2 portable hard drive on Amazon
- USB 3.2
- Data transfer rate up to 160 MB/s read, up to 143 MB/s write
6. Portable SSDs from Crucial and WD at up to 1050 MB/s
Above we mentioned the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD and the PRO model with transfer speeds up to 1,050 MB/s with USB-C and USB3.2 Gen 2. Here we look at a few other SSDs with the same interface, bandwidth and transfer speed. They are the Crucial X8 Portable SSD and the WD My Passport SSD.
Crucial X8 2TB portable SSD
WD 2TB My Passport SSD Red
7. SanDisk Extreme PRO 2TB portable SSD (4TB max)
The SanDisk Extreme offers high transfer speeds of up to 1,050 MB/s, while the SanDisk Extreme PRO nearly doubles this figure at 2,000 MB/s. If you are looking for the fastest external SSD, this is the one for you. Made of forged aluminum and coated with silicone, it is rugged, water and dust resistant.
SanDisk Extreme PRO 2TB portable SSD at Amazon
- USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
- Data transfer rate up to 2000 MB/s (read/write)
8. Samsung T7 Touch portable SSD (up to 2TB)
A more advanced backup option is a portable external drive with a fingerprint scanner. The Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD is one of these drives with read and write speeds of 1050 MB/s and 1000 MB/s respectively. It even has a nice blue LED light to illuminate the edge of the fingerprint sensor and is shock and drop resistant.
Samsung T7 Touch portable SSD at Amazon
- USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, compatible with USB 2.0.
- Read speed up to 1050 MB/s, write speed up to 1000 MB/s
Alternatives to external hard drives
In addition to specific external hard drives, you can also look for other PC accessories that perform similar functions:
1. External Hard Drive Adapter
StarTech.com SATA to USB 3.0 to SATA III cable
Connects to standard 3.5 or 2.5 SATA ports (power and data) on a drive and converts to USB input. In addition, the 3.5-inch models of these devices usually require an additional power supply to be connected to the module to provide sufficient power for the larger hard drives.
2. External hard drive docking station
Sabrent USB 3 – SATA III dual docking station for 2.5 or 3.5 hard drives
It is very similar to a standard external hard drive adapter, except that it has a more robust fixed desktop platform for mounting SATA-based data drives (usually vertical).
Note that almost all of these adapters are configured for USB 3.1 Gen 1. This means that anything connected to it is limited to a theoretical USB 3.0 bandwidth of 5 Gbps, which is then reduced by the total bandwidth of the motherboard’s chipset port. For example, a typical SATA 6Gb/s hard drive operates at 190+MB/s, but when converted to a USB 3.1 Gen 1 device using an external hard drive adapter, the speed drops to around 110-120MB/s. Performance may be less depending on the host device.
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