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  • External Hard Drive Selections
Technology Articles > Hardware > Hard Drives and Burners > External Hard Drive Selections

An external hard drive is the only way to backup existing computer files. External hard drives are available for $50+, and these drives are a true investment. Most external hard drives can hold thousands of photos, movies, and files. This basic backup insurance is one of the most important things that you can do to ensure the timelessness of any files that are important to you.

Types of External Hard Drives

Essentially, there are two types of external hard drives. Laptop or notebook drives are compatible with portable computers. Desktop drives are built to work with desktop computers. Most desktop models can be placed directly on a desktop and include a power adaptor. Laptop models do not include a power adaptor and can be transported easily.

Notebook drives usually come with 1 Terabyte per mechanism while desktop drives tend to have no more than 2 Terabytes per mechanism. A notebook drive that is particularly slim can fit into a coat pocket with ease, while desktop drives tend to be bulkier. Selecting a drive that corresponds with the system you intend to back-up is a wise idea.

Connectivity Options

Almost all external hard drives come with USB support. Newer external hard drives can also include firewire support. Technically, firewire is faster than USB. However, your computer must be able to support firewire. If your computer does not have a firewire port, a drive that has firewire connectivity is useless.

While most computers have at least one USB port, there are various types of USB available. Find out if your computer has USB 1.0, 2.0, or 3.0 port. Then, match the type of external hard drive you are considering with the type of port that your computer has. You can update your computer to include a newer type of USB, though this is usually not necessary.

External Hard Drive Speed

Seemingly, the speed of an external hard drive is important. The truth is that speed only matters if you have the right connectivity support. A computer with USB 1.0 or 2.0 ports will not be able to process a fast external hard drive. USB 3.0 and firewire ports are inherently faster. Yet, the fastest way to connect a hard drive to a computer is internally.

If you intend on connecting an external hard drive to your computer’s motherboard, speed will make a big difference. If not, a drive that has more than 7,000rpm may not make any difference when connected to your computer. In short, matching a hard drive’s connectivity with the type of ports that your system has is the best way to go.


Find a drive that has plug and play type features. Otherwise, you could end up spending hours trying to configure your new hard drive. Installation and set-up should be simple. Skip drives that require manual customization and intricate settings.

Brand Names

As a general rule of thumb, purchasing an external hard drive with a recognizable brand name is best. As with most types of technology, you get what you pay for when you purchase an unknown external hard drive brand.

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