External Hard Drive Buying Guide

An External Hard Drive is a storage device that is physically separate from the computer. It is usually connected via USB and may have its own additional power source. They are usually larger and have more capacity than a USB flash drive, although the most expensive USB flash drives can compete with the storage capacity of some external hard drives.

External hard drives are a place to back up your work. Here you can keep extra copies of important photos, videos, music projects, or any other files you want to keep safe. It’s always a good idea to keep at least two copies of projects and files on hand, especially if it’s work for clients. An external hard drive is a staple of any digital workspace, both as additional storage for applications and, most importantly, to back up our work.

Internal vs. External Hard Drive

The main difference between internal and external hard drives is how they connect to other devices:

Internal hard drives

Internal hard drives always require two connectors that must be connected to specific locations on the motherboard and power supply. Internal drives are often screwed down and require tools to remove them properly.

Internal drives use SATA or sometimes even PCIe connectors within the computer that connect directly to the motherboard. These internal connections allow for the fastest data transfer speeds available. For this reason, operating systems and programs are often installed on internal drives.

External hard drives

External hard drives are usually connected via a USB cable, and that’s it. Larger drives may need to be powered separately. These days, however, most external drives can get the amount of power they need from a single USB cable.

External drives use USB connections to transfer data between devices. USB 3.1, while very fast, is still slower than any internal connection. For this reason, external drives are best for long-term data storage or transferring files that are too large to fit on a USB flash drive.

Use of External Hard Drive

Transporting Data

If you need to transfer more data than a flash drive can handle, there are a few options for transferring data. Cloud-based services often have strict limits on the amount of data you can upload, and it can take hours to transfer a single file. This is where external hard drives come into play.

External hard drives come in larger formats than flash drives, yet have the same plug-and-play technology that makes them easy to use. Transferring large amounts of data with external drives is as simple as loading the device with data, driving it to the destination PC, and plugging in the drive.

Digital Editing

Tasks such as video editing, photo editing, digital illustration, 3D rendering, audio editing, and advanced simulations require large storage capacity. An external hard disk drive supports your systems during editing. For these intensive tasks, RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Drives), which is the connection of two or more hard drives that behave like a single hard drive, is beneficial.

Since these tasks can cause a hard drive to fail, RAID processing helps prevent data loss. Processing also benefits from using external hard disks as scratch disks, as they reduce the load on your internal hard disks and prevent them from being affected by unfortunate events.

Backing Up Data

Important data – from work projects and school assignments to family photos – is stored on a computer these days. Cloud-based backups exist, but they come with expensive fees or subscription plans that limit the amount of data you can store.

While having everything in one place is convenient, it can prove detrimental when it comes to potential data loss. Let’s say you store backup copies of your data on an external drive. In this case, you have a duplicate of your data that can be used if your main drive fails or gets damaged.


Modern games require large storage for a perfect experience. We recommend using external hard drives with Thunderbolt or USB-C fast connection to enjoy amazing performance and gameplay.

PS4 external hard drive, PS5 external hard drive, and Xbox external hard drive, among others, are available for gaming consoles with sufficient storage capacities for lag-free gaming experience.

Secure Data Transfer

External hard drives can also be used to transfer data securely. If you use an external physical drive to transfer data, there is no danger from malicious online sources. The device itself has no connection to the Internet unless it is connected to a PC.

Once the data is transferred to the device, the external drive can be unplugged and it becomes a miniature safe for your valuable information. The only way to access the data on your external drive is to connect it to another PC and give that computer permission to access the files on your external drive.

Key Features to Consider When Buying External Hard Drive

When buying a hard drive, you should pay attention to some important features. Once you’ve made the decision between a desktop hard drive and a portable hard drive, the path is clear for the next step! You’ll probably already have answers to many of the questions that come up when looking for the right hard drive, but here are some important points to consider.

Storage Capacity

Not surprisingly, the storage capacity you need will determine which solution you choose; in general, hard disk-based devices offer the best combination of price and storage capacity. External 1TB drives can cost as little as $50/£40; you would need more than 200 blank DVDs or more than 1200 blank CDs to match the capacity of these drives.

As a rule of thumb, you should choose a hard disk drive with twice the capacity you currently need; this should be enough for future needs, especially when you consider that upgrading an external storage device is not as easy as it is for a desktop PC.

Read/Write Speed

The ability to transfer large files from your computer to a hard drive in seconds is very tempting. The average transfer speed of hard drives is between 80 and 160 MB/s with a 7200 rpm drive. With an SSD, this speed increases to around 300 MB/s to several thousand MB/s.

Solid-state drives offer the highest speeds, which could be the deciding factor in your decision. Especially if you switch from an HDD to an SSD, you will probably notice a significant speed difference.

Size of the Drive

If you will rarely move the external storage device, it makes sense to invest in an external desktop drive that is larger than a portable version but offers more storage capacity for the same price. If mobility is your main concern, see if a large-capacity USB flash drive can meet your needs. A 500GB flash drive costs about $70, while a portable hard drive with the same storage capacity costs about half as much.

Drive Connectivity

There are currently three major ports on the market – eSATA, USB and Firewire. USB 2.0 and its faster cousin USB 3.0 are by far the most widely used versions, offering high transfer speeds and quasi-universal compatibility.

eSATA is the newest kid in town, offering improved performance and consuming fewer resources than USB. Firewire is often used for niche and high-end platforms like content creation, but offers the best performance of the three variants as well as excellent compatibility with the Mac environment.

Compatibility with Your System

Most hard disks come preformatted for a particular operating system. The good news is that you can reformat a hard disk to work with your system using Disk Utility (Mac) or Disk Management (Windows). However, if you want to save yourself the work and minimize potential problems, it’s best to find a hard drive that is explicitly compatible with your computer.

Security Features

Sometimes we store sensitive data on our external hard drive. To protect this data, drives may come with built-in security software, such as password protection or even fingerprint protection. Look for advanced security features if you need them, such as software encryption and hardware encryption.


Software is often the main differentiator between the various external hard drive storage solutions on the market. A great software package can make up for average performance and improve the overall user experience, especially when it comes to things like data backup.

Some applications offer the ability to automatically upload files to specific websites, rollback systems, and file encryption on the fly. Others have built-in synchronization features and allow you to use your favorite applications like Microsoft Excel or Word.

Gaming Compatibility

Games have gotten much larger over the years, and it’s common to buy a hard drive to supplement your system’s internal storage. Many hard drive manufacturers produce console or game specific hard drives that work well under these conditions. Look for this trademark if you want to buy a hard disk to expand your console’s memory.


Storage devices based on traditional hard disk drives are fragile by default, but some are more so than others, especially the larger ones that are more likely to be damaged if dropped. If you expect to be bumped and pushed around and occasionally drop something, you should opt for a flash drive rather than a spinning hard drive.

Portability and Durability

If you just need an external drive for home backup, network-attached storage (NAS) devices may be a better choice. They are usually installed as a standalone wired device on your local network and have multiple drives and storage modes. Promise Technology, QNAP, and Synology are just three manufacturers that specialize in NAS devices.

However, if you want to take your drive with you, portability is key. It needs to be lightweight and small so you can stash it in a bag for instant and quick access. Ideally, you won’t need an external power cable either. Most external drives are anything but heavy, and some are even tiny, like the Samsung T5, which offers huge digital storage capacity yet is very small. On the other hand, SSDs are usually a bit smaller than their hard drive counterparts, since they don’t contain stacked magnetic disks.

Power Requirements

Most modern external hard drives do not require an external power supply. Instead, they are powered entirely via USB, which comes from your computer. This means that you don’t need to use a power adapter. However, this is not always the case. Large external hard drives are the most likely to require an external power supply.

This is also true for older external hard drives that were made before USB 3 and Thunderbolt were widely available. An external hard drive that needs to be powered is not meant to be moved around much, even if it technically can be moved. Only buy a powered external hard drive if you rarely or never need to move it.

What Kind of Security Do You Want?

The great thing about external hard drives is that, even though they’re larger, they’re easy to transport. But that can also make them a security risk if you plan to store sensitive data. Sure, you can protect your hard drive from hackers by disconnecting it from your computer when you’re online, but that doesn’t mean someone won’t steal it or you can’t lose it.

Some external hard drives come with security measures like encryption, but that’s not a given. But even if the hard drive of your dreams doesn’t have any security measures, you’ll probably find that it’s compatible with encryption software that lets you encrypt your hard drive so that nobody but you can access your files.

Connection Type

Most external drives connect via one of the USB standards available today. Older models connect via USB Type-A and USB Type-B, while newer models use USB Type-C. Almost all external drives come with their own cable, so the only variable is which port your computer has. That’s why it’s important to know the types of USB ports on your computer. Even if the cable fits your computer’s port, you may experience disappointing performance if you plug an external drive into a slow USB port. If this applies to your computer, you should opt for a slower and cheaper external drive, as you won’t get the benefits of newer, faster models.

USB Type-C is the newest connection and offers fast data speeds as well as power through a single cable. USB Type-C is physically different from the older USB-A connector. You can buy a USB-C to USB-A adapter if your computer doesn’t have USB-C, but the USB Type-A port may not be able to power the drive (unless the drive comes with its own power supply).

One last port to mention: Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 are physically compatible with USB-C, but often faster, with a mandated bandwidth of 40 gigabytes per second. Thunderbolt isn’t used by most external drives, as USB is usually fast enough, but you may encounter Thunderbolt on high-end external drives. You will need a Thunderbolt 3 port on your PC to get the most out of this connection.


When Choosing the External Hard Drives, the materials used must be particularly durable. We paid attention to whether they are made of sturdy aluminum or protected by features like dust and drop resistance. Protection from drops or stability on the desk were the preferred features, since hard drives have moving parts that can be damaged if shaken too much. We hope this buying guide will give you some useful information for final decision.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staffhttps://www.bollyinside.com
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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