Is An External Hard Drive, A Safe Investment?

What to know before you Buy



Internal Hard Drives:

Every computer has a hard drive used to store various types of programs and data. There is usually only one in a computer and this leaves it vulnerable in a number of ways. Internet viruses, Trojan horses, drive failures – even your kids accidentally deleting folders can cause loss of data. Imagine what would happen if you suddenly lost all your family photos, your email or even your favorite music. As daunting as this may seem, there is an easy and practical solution –an external hard drive.

External Hard Drives:

External hard drives store your valuable data and add a considerable level of safety and security. This is because external hard drives are located outside the computer and allow you to keep a backup copy of all your important files - your tax records, email archives, photos, and more. For sensitive data, an external drive can be unplugged after it’s used and stored in a secure location. When it’s time to use it again, you simply plug it back in and all your data is available again.

An external hard drive connects to your computer with a simple USB cable. Most computers have several USB ports where you can plug the external drive in. You can also use a FireWire 400 or FireWire 800 port if you computer has one. The FireWire 800 port is about twice as fast as either the USB or FireWire 400 ports. The eSATA port is faster than all of these. Protecting your important data is as simple as plugging in the external drive to one of these ports and copying files from your computer. In just minutes, you can have a safe, secure copy.

There are different types of external hard drives. For example, there are Desktop hard drives that are a little larger and are designed to remain connected to your computer. Portable hard drives are smaller and light-weight so you can carry them with you in a backpack or briefcase and use them on different computers. Network hard drives can be used to backup several computers within your home or office.

External hard drive are compatible with the three major operating systems: Windows, Mac OS and Unix. Any of these operating systems can reside on an external hard drive no matter what operating system is on the internal drive.

External drives are easy to use and make data protection an attractive solution for everyone.

Desktop Hard Drives:

Now that we’ve covered some basics, let’s focus on what to look for in a desktop hard drive. A savvy buyer will typically strike a balance between budget and features. A list of these features are as follows.

  • Storage capacity: Capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes. One gigabyte is 1 billion bytes; a terabyte is 1000 gigabytes or 1 trillion bytes. The capacity of external hard drive is growing quickly. Desktop and network drives, because of their larger size, have more capacity. Desktop drives can range from 160GB to a terabyte of storage! Because of their light-weight design, portable drives are generally available between 80GB and 500GB. When shopping for a drive, take into account both the overall price and the price per gigabyte.


  • Rotation speed: Rotational speed is the most important factor in the performance of an external drive. The higher the rotational speed of the drive, the more data the drive can read and write from your computer. Most home computer internal hard drives rotate at 7200 rpm.


  • Interface types: Make sure that you select an external drive that is compatible with the ports on your computer. Most contemporary computers have several USB ports. FireWire ports are also available.


  • Warranty: All mechanical devices can break. What kind of warranty do you get? Some are as low as 3 months some are 1 year.


  • Value-Added Software: Some drives come with software to make it easy to keep your data safe. Look for software that is easy to use and allows you to schedule backups so your data is always protected – even if you forget. Some backup software even provides you with a safety net for your whole system, including the operating system and applications.
  • External hard drives are extremely affordable and come with abundance of features. Combine that with the added security and you have a safe and worthwhile investment.