Your use of your hard drive will be a major factor in your decision to buy. This is a simple case if your external HDD/SSD is only used for file storage. However, if you plan to regularly read/write to the external storage (e.g., video editing directly from the drive, rather than from your system drive), then you will want to make sure that it has fast read/write speeds and supports up-to-date connectivity standards like USB 3.0. Read on to learn more about the different types of external hard drives and what features you should look for in a purchase decision.
HDD vs. SSD
Two main types of storage drives are available: solid-state drives (or SSDs) and traditional hard drives (or HDDs). Until recently, most hard drives were mechanical HDDs. These drives have moving platters inside. This is where data is written and read. Although these traditional hard drives are no longer in use for system drives, their higher capacities and lower per-gigabyte costs make them a popular choice for external storage.
The solid-state drive revolution has been a recent development. These drives are essentially a type flash memory. Data is written onto chips instead of magnetic platters. This means there are no moving parts which can lead to faster read/write speeds and (in theory) greater reliability over the long-term. These drives are smaller than HDDs and more expensive per gigabyte. However, they’re what you’ll find when searching for external hard drives portable enough to fit in your pocket.
Hybrid hard drives are also known as SSHDs. These hybrid drives combine the best of both HDDs and HDDs’ storage capacities with SSDs. If you are looking for a faster storage option than an HDD, but don’t expect to be actively reading and writing to the external drive, these hybrid drives could be worth it.
All external hard drives are SSDs?
Any hard drive can be used externally with an suitable hard drive enclosure. These are available in both SSDs or HDDs. SSDs are rapidly replacing HDDs as internal system drives (the drive that is installed with your operating system and other programs), but HDDs remain very popular for external storage. They are cheaper per gigabyte, and offer a lot more storage capacity.
Is it possible to trust external hard drives?
An external hard drive can be any HDD or SSD that is contained in an enclosure. It’s similar to the ones found on desktop computers and laptops. The enclosure has a way to connect the hard drive to your computer, or another device. This is usually a USB port. It may also have a power adapter depending on its size. An external hard drive is as reliable as an internal hard drive if it comes from a trusted manufacturer. Your data will be safe if you stick with trusted manufacturers like Western Digital and SanDisk.
Is it fast to use external hard drives?
It is important to take into account read and write speeds. This refers to how fast data is downloaded from the hard drive and then uploaded to it. However, this is less of an issue than in the past. Even traditional rotary hard drives, HDDs, offer solid read/write speeds. The standard is 7,200rpm. This standard is less popular now, so double-check and avoid any using the older 5,400rpm standard. Solid-state drives offer the fastest read/write speeds but offer the lowest value per gigabyte.
Don’t forget to consider connection speeds. When data is transferred over an older standard such as USB 2.0, the fastest read/write speeds can be hampered. Your external hard drive should use at least USB 3.0, which is about ten times faster that USB 2.0.
Are external hard drives powered?
Although hard drives are electronic devices that require power from an external source, not all external hard drives must be plugged in to a wall. While most can draw sufficient power from the same USB connection they use to transfer data, larger HDDs will require an adapter. This adapter is included with the hard drive. While this is not a major problem, it is important to know if there are power outlets near where you will be installing your drive.
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