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  • Input and the External Hard Drive
Technology Articles > Hardware > Hard Drives and Burners > Input and the External Hard Drive

I know it’s hard to choose an external hard drive. I mean, it’s really, really, hard to choose an external hard drive. Most of the drives out there appear to be nothing more than square or rectangular boxes that all look the same. Once in awhile, you might come across a drive that’s been dipped in some candy-esque color, but that’s really just a mask for what’s inside. Confusion over hard drives is something that the best of us become frustrated over, so rest assured that you are in good company.

There’s one secret to choose an external drive, though, that might help you narrow down the selection. When it comes to drives of this kind, it’s all about input. How much input a drive has, how much you need, and what the heck is input all about anyway? That’s where this review will help you – when it comes to external drive input. Without further delay, here’s what you need to know (make sure to input these details into your brain!).

Why Input Is Important

You can’t connect an external drive to a Mac or PC without some form of external connection, also known as input. When it comes to input options, you have a few different selections.

First, the USB connection. Almost all external drives on the market today have some kind of USB connection. Even though USB 3.0 is out there, most of the drives you’ll find will have a USB 2.0 connection. A USB connection is standard but not the best that you can do speed-wise.

Next, there’s FireWire. Aside from the fact that FireWire is fun to say, this type of connection is super speedy. Of course, the speed of FireWire will only matter if your laptop or desktop actually has a FireWire port, so check on this first.

Now, all the rest come into play. Aside from USB and FireWire, you might see the following connection types: eSATA, Wireless USB, and iSCSI. Rarely, and I mean really rarely, will you see a Wireless USB or iSCSI connection. But, if you happen upon these (and your system is compatible), why not? To recap, make sure that the external drive you choose has a USB connection, a USB plus FireWire is great, and a USB plus FireWire plus another connection means that you’ve struck gold. Only, how much input do you need?

Determining Your Input Needs

You might find an external drive with more than one connectivity option. But, do keep in mind two important things. First, you can only connect one drive to one system at one time; second, the more connectivity options available, the more expensive a drive will become. So, you might think it’s really cool to own a drive with a Wireless USB, FireWire, and USB 3.0 connectivity option (and it is), but this will mean paying for all of those fancy features. If you just want an external drive that’s easy to navigate, has a great interface, and is simple to hook up when you want to, say, store those family vacation photos, an external drive that has a good amount of storage space and at least a USB connection will do the trick. Otherwise, you might be spending money for nothing.