External Hard Drives

Get great portable storage with an external hard drive

External hard drives (also known as portable external hard drives) are not the most commonplace computer accessory, but with more and more people getting on board with storing and backing up their data, and wanting to make that data portable, they're quickly heading for the mainstream.

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External hard drives are essentially just hard disk drives that connect separately to your computer, rather than being built in. They are much larger in capacity than other types of storage, such as USB flash drives, but are still relatively small and are easy to take with you.

There are two types of external hard drives you can buy – a USB hard drive or a FireWire hard drive. FireWire is the faster of the two, but not all computers are compatible with FireWire, whereas all computers come equipped with a USB port. Make sure your computer is compatible before you buy.

How to Choose an External Hard Drives

If you're not computer-savvy and have never bought an external hard drive, keep these tips in mind before you make a purchase:

  • Don't cheap out. Go with a trusted brand name rather than a discount fly-by-night brand. The quality is likely to be better and you decrease the risk of the device breaking down.
  • Think about size. Don't just think about how much space you'll need to store your current data, plan ahead for the future as well.
  • Compare numbers. Look at the specs of various brands, namely for factors like seek time (shorter is better), RPM (higher is better) and buffer size (more is better).

Top External Hard Drive Brands

It's always best to get recommendations or reviews about any brand you're looking into before you buy. There are many brands of external hard drives on the market, but a few brand names to get you started in your research include Seagate external hard drives, Lacie external hard drives and Maxtor external hard drives.