Finding the best external hard drives

external hard drivesFinding a good external hard drive can be a challenge, no matter how savvy a shopper you are. Between poor quality parts, prices far in excess of value, and a lack of word-of-mouth, it’s one of the harder items to shop for. With all of the different companies that produce external hard drives, it can be even harder to find one that’s worth purchasing from. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to make sure you’re getting the highest quality for your money.

First of all, you need to figure out whether you’re willing to pay a bit more to get higher quality. There are two basic types of hard dries available, whether you’re talking about internal or external, and each has their ups and downs. Your standard “platter” hard drives are basically the same kind we’ve had since the ’90s. They have magnetic disks inside that are read as they spin. These tend to be much cheaper, especially at larger sizes, but at the expense of not being as fast. The other kind of hard drive is a “Solid State Drive”. These are basically really big versions of USB flash drives. They’re extremely fast, and fairly long-lasting, but they are going to cost quite a bit more than a “platter” hard drive. If you’re willing to spend the extra money, a solid state drive is the way to go. Having no real moving parts means they’ll usually last a bit longer, as well as access data faster, but for some the price just isn’t worth it.

After that, figure out how much space you’ll need on the drive. It can be tempting to just grab a 1 or 2 terabyte drive and call it a day but this can be a mistake. For one thing, terabyte drives tend to be much larger, physically, than smaller drives. If you’re getting an external drive so you can easily move between computers, you’ll want to get something that can fit in your pocket. This is why figuring out how much space you need can be so important. If you’re just using the drive as an extra hard drive for your PC then feel free to grab a terabyte drive. If you’re using it to transfer pictures, text, music, etc., consider getting a smaller 60 or 120 gigabyte drive. If you plan to use it to transfer bigger items, such as HD video or whole programs, consider a 120 to 250 gig drive. They’re a bit bulkier, but are still small enough to fit in most pockets.

With all that done, it’s time to pick a company. This is probably the easiest step, as a quick web search can tell you all you need to know. Pick a couple of hard drives that fit nicely into your price and size range and do an internet search for reviews. A quick search for “‘hard drive name and number’ review” can usually give you a couple dozen reviews. Simply see which one has the most positive – or least negative – reviews and you’ll have your hard drive of choice.

These tips should help you find the perfect hard drive for your purposes. If you’re having a hard time deciding between two or more hard drives, however, do a search on reviews for the company that makes them. This can give you an idea of who has the better warranties, which can be a helpful piece of information to have, and the best tech support. Overall, though, just keep in mind that neither the cheapest or the most expensive option is always the best.