In the modern world, our computers are our lifelines. We use them for everything from streaming Netflix and Hulu to paying bills to keeping track of essential documents and working remotely.
In short, if your computer crashes, you’re out of luck.
Rather than stress about the fact that your computer could crash at any moment, you could back up your files instead.
Some people prefer to use Cloud-based storage—uploading files through the internet to an external server—while others feel safer with external hard drives.
Unlike Cloud-based storage, external drives are physical devices.
You can use them to access your files whenever you want, including during any Internet outages.
Plus, you’re not trusting your data to some third party that could quite easily suffer from a data breach, compromising your data in the process.
Why Do You Need an External Hard Drive?
If you’re an academic, digital creative, or you rely on your computer for programs, apps, and storage, you know the importance of having convenient access to your files at a moment’s notice.
If your computer gets lost, is in the shop, broken, or riddled with viruses, can you do your job?
If the answer is no, an external drive is an investment you’ll never regret.
In the case of computers that are getting on in their years, one of the biggest benefits of an external hard drive lots of additional storage without any fiddling around inside the case.
You can transfer all those big (or old) files from your internal hard drive, and plonk them on an external storage device instead.
Most people have no much clutter they have on their internal drives.
External hard drives also have tons of convenience by way of portability.
If you need to transfer files from one computer to another or travel without your PC, external hard drives plug into any computer and give you instant access to your files wherever you go.
You can also store a copy of all your valuable files in another physical location, like a deposit box, for example.
Basically, if you value your personal data then you need an external storage solution of some kind.
Are External Hard Drives Faster Than Internal Drives?
The short answer to this is “Nope”, simply because any external device on a PC will be connected via a USB port.
A typical and relatively modern internal drive transfers data at around 3.0Gbps (gigabits per second).
Then compare this to a device connected to a USB 2.0 port transferring data at 60MBps (megabytes per second) and you’ll see that an internal drive runs at roughly 8x the speed of any external hard drives.
Even USB 3.0 connections top out at 5Gbps vs. a SATA III powering along at 6Gbps, and it’s highly unlikely that your USB 3.0 connection can sustain that level of file transfer for more than short bursts.
Owning an external drive won’t make your computer run faster.
But it does allow you to own a portable, affordable and secure way of storing your data – and data transfer speeds are improving all the time.
Benefits of an External Hard Drive
Just in case you’re not already convinced, let’s take a point-by-point overview of why owning external hard drives is a good idea. So…what are the benefits of an external hard drive, or drives?
You can get a high-quality 2TB external hard drive for about $70 online right now. In terms of value the cost roughly the same as internal hard drives, so there’s no reason not to own one. You get a whole lot of portable storage for very little money.
You can carry several terabytes of data around in your jacket pocket or backpack, and then simply plug your drive in whenever you need to access it. Do try use a hard drive storage case though when doing this – it save the drive taking unnecessary knocks.
If your main computer is a desktop or you don’t want to risk loss, damage or theft, external drives offers a discreet and portable option for traveling with your files. It won’t weigh you down, and you probably won’t even notice it until you need it.
Ease of Use
If you know how to use a flash drive, you can use an external hard drive. Just plug it into your computer with a USB cord and your computer should recognize it without prompting. Because of this simple connection, transferring files to and from your external hard drive is efficient and convenient.
Emergency Boot drive
You can use a number of methods to boot your computer from an external drive if your main drive crashes. This is a more technical way to use an external hard drive, but it’s an absolute benefit of owning an external drive.
External hard drives protect your files and sensitive documents from phishing, theft, and viruses. Because your files are isolated on a separate device, if anything happens to your computer, you keep that access.
There’s no substitute for being prepared. If you have an external hard drive, you are prepared for the worst before it happens.
If you want more storage space, you simply add more external hard drives to your stack, and you never need to remove the case of your PC.
Disadvantages of External Hard Drive Storage
It might seem like there’s no excuse to go without an external hard drive, but there’s a downside to everything.
If you drop or knock over an external drive, you’re going to break it. And there’s nothing quite like the feeling of watching terabytes of information go sailing off your desk and onto a floor. I’ve been there. The same goes for spilling water on one.
It’s far easier for somebody to steal your external drives than it is for them to steal an entire computer. That portability can be a distinct disadvantage around kleptomaniacs.
Wear and Tear
How long do external hard drives last?
Well, external hard drives can and will eventually stop working, and the more you access data on one the shorter its lifespan will be.
They can also overheat pretty quickly, so don’t expose them to direct heat sources like strong sunlight or sitting on top of a heater.
Cabling and power
By their very nature, external hard drives have to be connected to your computer via a USB cable. And then some of these hard drives need a separate power supply, which means more clutter on your desk.
Summing things up
And that brings us to the end of our look at the pros and cons of owning an external hard drive.
I’m a fan and have been for years, so hopefully you understand the benefits too.
Just be aware that, as with most technology, you get what you pay for.
You should research your external hard drive options and not choose based on price alone.
If you need a little help with that then maybe check out my article on the best external hard drives.
If you buy a cheap external hard drive and export your life’s work only to find it crashes in less than a year, it’s as bad as not having one at all.
A reliable external hard drive offers years of flexibility, portability, and dependability.So always buy a brand name you can trust.