Choosing an external hard drive

With so many options out there, which one is best for you?

So, you’ve been slowly but surely accumulating copious amounts of media on your computer. Maybe you’re a hardcore music collector or maybe you have 3000 photos sitting in folders on your desktop? These are taking up valuable space and could even be slowing down your computer speed, so filing them on an external hard drive free up valuable disk space.

Hard drives a key element in any desktop or laptop computer. It is not unusual to purchase a new one every few years, either to use for additional storage or to replace an old drive. There are many options from which to choose, so how do you decide which is the best for you?

Hard disk drive vs. solid state drive

Typically, the are two kinds of external hard drives: hard disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD). SSDs are faster at writing and reading data, require less power to operate and have no moving they are much more expensive and have smaller data capacities than the more traditional HDDs. You can pay more than double the price of a HDD when you start getting into larger data capacities.

So, if you are on a budget, or if you’re buying the drive mainly as a back-up, go with a traditional HDD.

If you will be going to run an operating system or hold a lot of frequently-accessed files and programs, especially video games, your best option is to invest a bit more and go with a SSD.


This will entirely depend on how much data you need to store. If most of your files are word documents and spreadsheets, 250GB or 320GB is fine.

Although if you plan to store your music, photo or movie collection on it, bigger is better – look into buying a 1TB or 2TB drive.


If your computer doesn’t have a built in back-up system, like Mac’s Time Machine, a hard drive can provide some measure of extra security, whether it’s automatic backup or file retrieval. These features will usually cost extra, so it’s up to you whether you want to spend the money for peace of mind.


There is a range of prices for hard drives based on their storage capacity. If you’re looking for value for money, divide the hard drive’s price by its storage to find out what you will pay per gigabyte. Additionally, user reviews on online forums and review sites can give you a guide to the user experience. It is up to you to find out which factors are relevant to your needs and to select a hard drive that fits those demands.