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11 Best External Hard Drives

The computer no longer turns on, the hard disk is damaged. All important document data, private photo collections, music, videos are lost permanently. This is a nightmare scenario for most computer users. The failure demonstrates the importance of backing up personal documents and files. Anyone who regularly stores them on the best external hard drives is well against data loss. Handling is easy, as the storage media can be connected with a USB cable and data synchronization is fully automatic with many models. Data carriers have proven themselves not only for data backup, but also for fast transport of large amounts of data from one place to another.

best external hard drives

The following product comparison compares the properties and functions of the 11 best external hard drives. We provide valuable tips on dealing with data carriers and explain which details buyers should pay attention to if a new purchase is required. In this guide, we explain the advantages and disadvantages of hard drives and what alternative backup options are available.

The 11 best handy external hard drives for comparison

best external hard drives

1. Toshiba HDTB420EK3AA Portable External Hard Drive Canvio Basics
  • 2TB digital storage capacity
  • Compatible Devices Laptop, Desktop
  • ATA-5 . hard disk interface
  • HDTB420EK3AA Series
  • Special use for Multimedia products
  • Connectivity technology No
  • 2.5-inch hard drive form factor
  • Hard disk size 2000 GB
  • 6.35 cm (2.5 inches) form factor
The Toshiba HDTB420EK3AA Canvio Basics is an external hard drive that can be used with a USB interface over the fast USB 3.0 standard. It is compatible with USB 2.0, so users can connect old hardware without any hesitation. Toshiba's storage medium is a 2.5-inch hard drive with a matte case. It is available with five different memory sizes:
  • 500 gigabytes
  • 1 terabyte (TB)
  • 2 terabytes (TB)
  • 3 terabytes (TB) and
  • 4 terabytes (TB)
Toshiba external hard drives are designed for use with Microsoft Windows. Users do not require any software installation and can use the device via plug-and-play: simply connect the hard drive to the USB port of a laptop or notebook with a USB cable and immediately save or recall data.

What is meant by plug and play? Plug and Play is a term for a device that functions as soon as it is plugged into the appropriate port on the computer. They can be used immediately without any configuration or installation. In German, "plug and play" means plug and play. The term was first used by Microsoft when it introduced Windows 95. However, at the time, the process was not yet fully developed - the mockingly plug-and-pray term was spreading at the same time. It means plug and pray.

The maximum transfer rate for this device is about 5.0 gigabits per second. Power is also supplied via the USB port, where the maximum value of 900 milliamperes must be considered.

What is the difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0? What is special about USB is the fact that users can connect compatible devices such as memory sticks, printers or webcams to the computer via the interface during operation. Especially in terms of storage media, it is important to know the speed of data transmission from A to B. With USB 2.0 it is still 480 megabits per second, with USB 3.0 the speed is 10 gigabits per second and with USB 3.2 which was introduced in 2017 it is even 20 gigabits per second.

  • Available in five sizes
  • Only up to 4 terabytes
best external hard drives

2. WD Elements WDBU6Y0020BBK external hard drive
  • 2TB digital storage capacity
  • Compatible hardware
  • USB 3.0 . hard disk interface
  • WD Elements Portable Series
  • Special use for multimedia products
  • USB connectivity technology
  • 2.5-inch hard drive form factor
  • Hard disk size 2000 GB
  • 2.5 inch form factor
External hard drives from WD Elements with USB 3.0 can be connected to computers with Microsoft Windows or MAC operating systems. However, the disc must be reformatted when used on an Apple computer. Otherwise, the hard drive is pre-formatted for Windows 7, 8 and 10.

Ready to use for Windows 7, 8, and 10! Windows 7, 8 and 10 operating systems work with the NTFS file system. If the hard drive is to work on an older Microsoft system, it must be formatted in the FAT32 system, which, however, has various drawbacks. For Apple or Linux systems, users need to be more specific about using an external hard drive.

The WD Elements WDBU6Y0020BBK external hard drive is available in a variety of storage sizes, not just 2 terabytes of storage volume. They are also available in various sizes
  • 500 gigabytes
  • 750 gigabytes
  • 1 terabyte
  • 1.5 terabytes
  • 3 terabytes
  • 4 terabytes and
  • 5 terabytes
Prices are based on the size of the individual hard disk.

Who is WD Elements? WD Elements is a Western Digital brand, founded in 1970 and known worldwide - one of the market leaders in the storage media space. The SanDisk brand, which is primarily used for your flash storage media, also belongs to known Western Digital.

  • Available in seven sizes
  • No LED
best external hard drives

3. STEA2000400 . external hard drive
  • 2TB digital storage capacity
  • Compatible hardware
  • USB 3.0 . hard disk interface
  • 2TB Portable Series
  • Cable connectivity technology
  • Special features Hot Swap Function, BUS powered
  • Drive form factor 2.5 centimeters
  • Hard disk size 2TB
  • 2.5 inch form factor
The Seagate STEA2000400 External Portable Hard Drive is a 2.5-inch hard drive with Hi-Speed ​​USB 3.0 connectivity. Hard drives can be easily connected to a computer via plug-and-play. This means users can directly back up data or save pictures and videos on the hard drive. Seagate provides a 2 year warranty on external hard drives.

The scope of delivery includes:
  • Hard drive
  • USB 3.0 cable and
  • Quick start guide
In terms of price, the hard drive is not much different from the external storage media presented in the comparison so far. This model is available in memory sizes or sizes between 500 gigabytes and 5 terabytes.

What alternatives are there to external hard drives? As an alternative to external hard drives, there are two other storage media in particular. USB sticks are also portable devices, although they are a more compact storage option.

  • 2 years factory warranty
  • Nice design
  • No loss can be ascertained
best external hard drives

4. External hard drive Intenso Memory Case
  • USB flash memory type
  • Black
  • USB 3.0 . hardware interface
  • Memory storage capacity 2TB
The Memory Case external hard drive from the Intenso brand weighs 186 grams and is flyweight, making it ideal for traveling. Ready to use without installation and comes with a very fast access time of 8 milliseconds thanks to the SuperSpeed ​​USB 3.0 connection. The number of rounds is 5,400 revolutions per minute.

The Memory Case external hard drive from Intenso is pre-formatted with the FAT 32 file system, so it's ready for use on Windows computers or MAC computers. In terms of price, the Intenso hard drive is no different from the other models presented so far for comparison.

Maximum compatibility thanks to FAT32 formatting: Intenso features this model pre-formatted with the FAT32 file system. As a result, these external hard drives are compatible not only with Windows computers but also with Linux from the start or Apple operating systems. Game consoles or TVs with USB ports have no problems with this file system either.

Power is supplied via the hard drive's USB port, which is also used to connect computers and other devices. The maximum data transfer rate when reading is 85 megabits per second, while writing is 75 megabits per second. With these values, this model lags behind other devices. These discs are available in various storage sizes, up to 5 terabytes.

What is the difference between NTFS and FAT32? Microsoft has historically used two different file systems for its Windows product line: FAT32 for Windows 9x systems and NTSF for NT-based operating systems. With the merging of the two systems under Windows XP and the removal of the MS-DOS substructure, the FAT32 system fell. However, the file system survives to this day. For example, some MP3 players or devices such as car radios that can be moved with a USB stick to play audio files are only FAT32 compatible. Linux and macOS can also handle FAT32.

  • FAT32 is formatted for use with earlier versions of Windows, Apple, and Linux
  • Relatively slower
best external hard drives

5. Seagate Expansion Desktop external hard drive
  • Digital storage capacity 6000GB
  • Desktop compatible devices
  • USB 3.0 . hard disk interface
  • 6TB Series Expansion Desktop
  • Special use for gaming, business, personal products
  • Ethernet connectivity technology
  • User friendly special features
  • 3.5-inch hard drive form factor
  • Hard disk size 6TB
The Seagate Expansion Desktop Series is specifically designed to offer users more storage space. And by more we mean: more. Because the storage capacity of this external hard drive is 6 terabytes. It is not suitable for mobile use as it is in a 3.5-inch house which requires an external power supply. The hard drive can be directly used with Microsoft Windows 7, 8 and 10 operating systems.

External hard drives are characterized mainly by their large storage capacity. It offers space for a total of 6 terabytes of data.

Like the other hard drives in this comparison, the connection between the hard drive and the end device is made with a USB cable and is plug-and-play. A fast USB 3.0 connection is available, so data can be transferred at 5 gigabits per second. If you want to use the hard drive in an Apple computer or a Linux operating system, you must first adapt the data format to the circumstances.

Another special feature of this external hard drive is the fact that the manufacturer offers a two-year rescue service. If a problem arises and the user can no longer access his data, the manufacturer steps in and saves the lost data for free.

How much energy does an external hard drive use? External hard drives are usually very energy efficient. They draw their power from the USB connection to the computer. Devices typically require about 2.5 to 5 watts for proper operation. The exception is hard drives with very high storage capacities, which often require separate power supply via a power supply unit or another USB port.

  • Storage capacity 6 terabytes
  • 2 years rescue service
  • External power supply required
best external hard drives

6. Intenso Memory Drive external hard drive
  • 2TB digital storage capacity
  • Laptop, desktop, TV compatible devices
  • USB 3.0 . hard disk interface
  • Series Memory Drive
  • Special use for commercial and personal use products
  • USB connectivity technology
  • 2.5-inch hard drive form factor
  • Hard disk size 2000 GB
  • 2.5 inch form factor
The Intenso Memory Drive hard drive has a storage volume of 2 terabytes. Like most external hard drives in our comparison, the Intenso Memory Drive is also pre-formatted with FAT 32 , so that every common operating system recognizes the hard drive as soon as it's connected.

Intenso hard drive delivery scope includes:
  • 2.5 inch hard drive
  • A pocket
  • USB 3.0 cable
With a matching bag! With this model, the buyer also gets a bag. While it doesn't protect against liquid or drop damage, it does protect against dust and dirt.

Intenso hard drives have a high-gloss piano finish that enhances the look of the drive. With USB 3.0, Intenso external hard drives can achieve transfer speeds ten times faster than hard drives that have USB 2.0. The hard drive can be transported well protected in the accompanying bag. In terms of price, this device is on the same level as all the other external hard drives in our comparison.

How do I protect my data on an external hard drive from third parties? Protecting your data on an external hard drive is quite simple. Because users can use certain software for encryption. It can be used to encrypt individual files or entire hard drives. Related programs are available either directly from the manufacturer or from the IT portal.

  • With a protective cover against dust and dirt
  • Finish piano
  • Only 1 or 2 terabytes available
best external hard drives

7. Maxone 25191-TBPK external hard drive
  • 1 TB digital storage capacity
  • Laptop, desktop compatible devices
  • USB 3.0 . hard disk interface
  • Special use for product games
  • USB connectivity technology
  • 2.5-inch hard drive form factor
  • Hard disk size 1TB
  • 2.5 inch form factor
  • Read speed 6 gigabytes per second
The Maxone 25191-TBPK is a 2.5-inch portable hard drive. These models have storage capacities of 160, 250, 320 and 500 gigabytes, as well as 1 terabyte and 2 terabytes. Since the hard drive is a plug-and-play device, users can simply connect the hard drive to a suitable computer with a USB cable and you are good to go. The hard drive works with the fast USB 3.0 standard.

Possible different color variants: Many manufacturers provide external hard drives in black, sometimes in white hard drive bays. With the Maxone hard drive, there is the option of getting a gray, pink or gold model.

External hard drives work via USB 2.0 as they are backwards compatible. It can be used on PlayStation 4 or Smart TV. To use it on a Smart TV, users will have to reformat the external hard drive to FAT32. Because the device is formatted with the exFAT file system and supports Windows 10, 7, 8, and MacOS X (10.6.5 and later), but not Smart TVs, game consoles, or other playback devices.

  • Available in stylish colors
  • Small memory size ensures more compatibility
  • To be used on a Smart TV or game console, the file system must be changed
best external hard drives

8. Transcend StoreJet M3 eksternal external hard drive
  • 2TB digital storage capacity
  • Compatible hardware
  • USB 3.0 . hard disk interface
  • Model name Transcend StoreJet M3 Anti-Shock 2TB anti-shock external hard drive (6.4cm (2.5 inch), 5400 rpm, 8MB cache, USB 3.0) gray-green
  • Cable connectivity technology
  • Special features Operating temperature range:5 - 55 °C Plug and Play Security algorithm: AES 256-bit shockproof USB powered warranty card Yes
  • 3.5-inch hard drive form factor
  • Hard disk size 2TB
  • 2.5 inch form factor
Transcend's StoreJet M3 external hard drive has a durable, shock-resistant, non-slip silicone case with anti-shock technology. Hard drives are available with storage capacities of 500 gigabytes or 1 terabyte or 2 terabytes.

Anti-shock technology makes mobile use twice as secure: Transcend hard drives are primarily intended for mobile use, as three-layer anti-shock technology is used. The durable, impact-resistant and slip-resistant silicone case is designed to ensure external hard drives stay functional for years. The hard drive meets US military drop test standards (MIL-STD-810G, Method 516.6, Procedure IV).

Data is backed up at the push of a button, although Transcend Elite software must be installed on the computer for this function. LED status light indicates operation and data transfer. Power is supplied via the USB port.

What is a backup program? A program that automatically syncs certain content from your computer with removable media, such as an external hard drive, or the cloud. The files and folders to be backed up must be defined in advance by the user. The user can specify the date and time as the point of time for synchronization, or he can specify that a certain device connection is sufficient to initiate synchronization.

Unlike most external hard drives that have been compared so far, this Transcend hard drive comes with a 3-year warranty. The data transfer rate is 5120 megabytes (MB) per second - a common value for external hard drives in our product comparison. If the Transcend hard drive is not used for more than 10 minutes, it will automatically enter sleep mode.

  • Shockproof silicone case
  • LED status light
  • Backup data at the push of a button
  • Only available up to 2 terabytes
best external hard drives

9. Maxtor M3 . external hard drive
  • 2TB digital storage capacity
  • HDD compatible devices
  • Serial ATA-150 . hard disk interface
  • 2000GB Portable M3 Series
  • Special use for Personal products
  • Cable connectivity technology
  • Special features Yes, Operating temperature range:5 - 40 °C
  • 2.5-inch hard drive form factor
  • Hard disk size 2000 GB
Maxtor M3 external hard drive has 2 terabytes of large storage capacity. This model is also available in memory sizes of 500 megabytes (MB), 1 terabyte, 3 terabytes and 4 terabytes. Data is encrypted on the hard drive via Maxtor's SecretZone system so it cannot be seen by third parties.

How big should an external hard drive be? This depends on the respective application area. If you want to back up office documents, for example, you'll be well served with a smaller hard drive. If the data to be backed up consists mainly of photos, videos, or a large music collection in an uncompressed format, the external hard drive should be as large as possible.

Maxtor ships hard drives with software that serves as a backup solution. If installed on your own computer, the program will save the predefined data from the computer hard drive to the mobile data media.

Includes software solutions for data backup: With this model, the buyer gets the right programs needed for proper data backup in addition to the hard drive. There are only a few manufacturers that offer external hard drives along with a complete software solution.

  • Includes backup solution
  • Automatic encryption
  • Backup and encryption not for Linux
best external hard drives

10. External hard drive Intenso Memory Center
  • 2TB digital storage capacity
  • Laptop, desktop, TV compatible devices
  • USB 3.0 . hard disk interface
  • Series Memory Center
  • Special use for multimedia products, personal, business
  • USB connectivity technology
  • Hot Swap function special features
  • 3.5-inch hard drive form factor
  • Hard disk size 2000 GB
The Intenso Memory Center hard drive is a 3.5-inch external hard drive with a plastic case. It simply connects to a computer via plug-and-play and can be used immediately. Power is supplied via a power adapter, Super Speed ​​USB 3.0 connection ensures fast data transfer. The storage medium is compatible with USB 2.0.

External hard drive in large format! The external hard drive comes in a 3.5-inch format and is therefore larger and heavier than most of the others in our comparison. It can only be used to a certain extent for transportation, if only because an external power supply unit is required.

External hard drives have LED indicators that indicate active data transfer. The maximum data transfer rate for reading is 85 megabits per second, while for writing the speed is 75 megabits per second. Storage media works with the operating system
  • MS Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10
  • MAC OS X 10.6 or higher
  • Likewise with Linux 2.4 or higher
Why do I need a power supply for multiple external hard drives? It has to do with the shape. A 2.5-inch hard drive draws the energy it needs directly from the USB port, while a 3.5-inch hard drive requires so much energy that one USB port is no longer enough. Therefore, an external power supply is required for large hard drives.

  • High storage capacity available
  • External power supply required
best external hard drives

11. Western Digital My Passport WDBYFT0020BBK-WESN external hard drive
  • 1 TB digital storage capacity
  • Compatible hardware
  • My passport model name
  • Connectivity technology Wired, USB
  • Special features Maximum temperature5 - 35 °C, yes, indicator light, Security algorithm: AES 256-bit
  • 2.5-inch hard drive form factor
  • Hard disk size 2GB
  • 2.5 . form factor
  • Cache size 2
The Western Digital My Passport WDBYFT0020BBK-WESN external hard drive is available in a variety of colors. External hard drives are portable and secure storage available with storage capacities of up to 4 terabytes.

Do I need a special connection cable for an external hard drive? It depends on the hard disk and transmission technology. The cables required for connection to the computer are always included in the shipping coverage.

This hard drive is suitable for local, automatic data backup and cloud backup. Western Digital hard drives are optimized for Windows systems, and users can reformat them to be MAC compatible. Western Digital provides a 3-year warranty on external hard drives.

With an external hard drive, it is possible to enable password protection and set your own password for data security. It is possible to enter a message with "Please get back to me" in the password entry field. If an external hard drive is lost, it is possible that an honest seeker will restore the drive.

  • Password protection
  • 3 years warranty
  • Formatted for Windows

What is an external hard drive and why is it necessary?

external hard drives

An external hard drive is a storage medium used for example on a computer or laptop. But also on Smart TV an external hard drive can be connected.

Files, pictures, videos or documents can be stored on the hard drive. If a computer data crash occurs, the data is not lost. Memory can be used as archive for old data. Very large files like movies or videos can be stored in it.

External storage media is small and lightweight. In this way, the stored data can be used anywhere: The hard drive can serve as storage for business presentations in another city. It can be helpful when exchanging large amounts of data between two people, or be a tool for backing up photos on vacation.

External hard drives are available in a variety of storage sizes and the USB 3.0 standard allows data to be transferred quickly from a computer or notebook to an external hard drive. A minimum size of 2 terabytes is one common external hard drive. In most cases, they are sufficient to store files, images, videos and the like. Additionally, the 2 terabyte external hard drive has encryption to protect data.

There are other storage media, such as the cloud or a USB stick. The capacity of a USB stick is not as large as an external hard drive. The computer's internal hard drive comes with operating system updates, videos and photos and other files reach their limits fairly quickly.

And clouds? It's too insecure for many people to store sensitive data there. External hard drives are ideal for giving your computer even more capacity. Storage media is now quite cheap. This way, sensitive data can be physically backed up: after the backup, the external hard drive is simply removed from the computer and stored elsewhere.

External hard drives can also be connected to modern smart TVs. Here the user can, for example, record movies on an external hard drive - an external hard drive replaces a DVD recorder. External storage media usually use a USB cable for connection. WLAN or LAN connection is possible with a NAS hard drive.

Gamers use external hard drives as memory expansion for game consoles. If the player connects an external data media to the game console, there is an option to save apps and games on it. An external hard drive is a good solution, especially when the console's own storage space is at its limit.

How external hard drives work: They have a magnetic disk and a scanner reads the data and sends the read information to the computer via a USB connection.

When were external hard drives invented?

The first hard drive was made in 1956. It was a storage medium from IBM on behalf of the US Air Force. The Ramac 305 consists of 50 aluminum plates that have a diameter of 61 centimeters. Their storage capacity is only 5 megabytes (MB). The storage medium weighs a ton and has a transfer rate of 8.8 kilobytes per second.

In the 1960s there were already several hard drive manufacturers. The first external hard drives only came to market in the 1990s, with no definite record of exactly when external hard drives first appeared on the market.

In addition to hard drives, computer manufacturers develop floppy disk drives. The first so-called floppy disk drives came to market in 1967, with 5.25-inch floppy disk drives being used first, and later 3.5-inch drives and floppy disks. With the advent of writable CDs, floppy disk drives disappeared.

How much storage capacity does an external hard drive have?

External hard drives can now be found in various types in the market. Manufacturers offer hard drives between 128 gigabytes and 8 terabytes in different sizes. The first companies have announced hard drives in much larger dimensions and are in the range between 50 and 80 terabytes. However, such a measure is not necessary for your own use. 2 terabytes is sufficient for most users and is a good guideline.

How much does an external hard drive cost?

External storage prices differ: The most important factors are storage capacity, size, and whether it's an HDD or SSD hard drive. An external hard drive with 2 terabytes costs between 50 and $100 in the lower price segment. These are mostly HDD disks, as SSD hard disks are more expensive. We explain the differences below in this guide. Depending on the size, hard drives can cost several hundred dollars, and there's no limit to the price tag.

Hard drive noise level can be a buying criterion: Mechanical HDD hard drives are louder than SSD hard drives. Manufacturers usually provide values ​​in decibels for the expected HDD and SDD volumes. If you want to permanently connect a hard drive to a device to retrieve data, you should check it before buying.

Where can I buy an external hard drive?

As with most computer products, there are several ways to purchase an external hard drive. You can get advice from local retailers. The range of models is usually limited and prices are usually higher than leading online retailers. In the electronics department of large department stores and at discount stores, there may be deals and campaigns where storage disks are offered at low prices.

You'll find a wide variety of external hard drives at online retailers and devices can often be ordered and purchased from the manufacturers themselves. In addition, prices at online retailers are usually lower than at local specialist stores.

A small digression - this storage medium exists

There are many ways to outsource data or store it in addition - overview:

  1. Internal hard drive in the computer Computers are generally no longer equipped with internal hard drives. In some cases, new devices only have SSD hard drives. An additional internal hard drive to complement the SSD can often be ordered from the manufacturer and installed. To install an additional hard drive yourself, you will need the necessary technical knowledge.
  2. USB Stick is a smaller storage variant of an external hard drive. They only hold a few gigabytes, but are easier to transport. Smaller photos, music, or movie files can be transferred from one computer to another using the device.
  3. SD Card is designed for cameras and smartphones. Due to its low weight, it is light and, depending on the model, has a larger storage volume than a USB stick. With a suitable reader, users can read SD cards directly on a computer or laptop. Dedicated SD cards in the SDXC and SDUC formats can store several terabytes, but are not required for current devices.
  4. CD, DVD or Blu-ray discs are hardly common today: To back up data on these data carriers, a suitable burner is required, which is no longer installed in newer computers. The storage space is quite small and is around 25 to 50 gigabytes.
  5. Cloud Here the user does not store data locally in one place, but on the service provider's online server. In many cases, these services are only free for small amounts of data. Data access to the cloud is very flexible, stored data can be accessed from any location and with any device. Internet connection required.
  6. HomeServer They can be referred to as "private clouds". This means that users store data on their own servers or on locally located network hard drives.
  7. External hard drive This storage media has a very large storage capacity and can also be used while traveling because of its light weight. Connection to a computer or laptop is via USB.
Pros and cons of external hard drives

External hard drives are flexible and mobile because they are not permanently attached to the computer. Connection is only made via a USB cable. Connect to computers as needed and disconnect when data is backed up. Most external hard drives are plug-and-play to connect to a computer and work like an internal hard drive in a PC. Depending on the model purchased, some external hard drives have additional features, such as a backup program to completely secure the computer.

External hard drives are very helpful for daily exchange and data backup: Saved files are available at all times and free up the main computer hard drive. This protects the computer and the computer's main memory, which does not have to constantly access the hard drive.

Disadvantages of devices: Since the hard drive is not permanently connected to the computer and is portable, it can also be lost. Then the data is lost. Hard drives can be susceptible to shock and are usually not waterproof, so damage and data loss can also occur.

external hard drives

Users should pay attention to this when buying an external hard drive

When purchasing an external hard drive, users should first make sure that they are buying a 2.5 inch hard drive. This is the current default format. 3.5-inch hard drives are a thing of the past and can almost only be found in the area of ​​NAS and network hard drives.

Storage capacity

The larger the storage capacity, the more data that can be backed up. Hard drives on the market range in size from 250 megabytes to 8 terabytes of storage - a huge difference. Even though the small version doesn't even fit the feature film, users can back up the entire media library on the big version and still have room for data. Hard drives with 2 to 4 terabytes of available storage space are currently available in the most common devices and at a good price-performance ratio.

Hard drives with larger storage capacities are useful, although they are more expensive at first glance. Files like photos, music or images are getting bigger year after year due to quality improvements like higher megapixels, HD, UHD, and 4k. At the same time, the rate of technically feasible data transmission is increasing both on the Internet and between individual components such as computers and external hard drives. To have a certain level of security in the future, large data memory is an advantage. The price-performance ratio increases the more storage space a hard drive has.

File system

Every data medium, whether a hard disk, floppy disk, USB stick or CD, has a special structure for storing data - called a file system. Not every device that can be connected to an external hard drive can read and/or write every file system. There are different systems for different storage media and operating systems. Here are some of the most famous and most important:
  • APFS: Apple File System, since macOS 10.13
  • ext4: Fourth Extended File System, comes with Linux operating system to use
  • FAT32: File Allocation Table, Microsoft operating system file system
  • NTFS: New Technology File System, the current common file system for Windows 10
On newly purchased external hard drives, the FAT32 system in a further developed variant or the NTFS system is used. However, it is up to the user to change the file system depending on the operating system used or its purpose. And with good reason: some operating systems can read other file systems, but cannot write to them.

Most users are well served with the NTFS file system used in Windows 10. If you're only using Apple computers, you'll need to format the hard drive with APFS. If you need a good all rounder, you should go with FAT32.

External Hard Drive Connection

Most new external hard drives use USB 3.0 to connect to a computer. This is one of the most common and fastest connection types. Every computer has one or more USB ports. There is also an external hard drive that connects via USB 2.0. They are significantly slower. If your computer doesn't have a USB 3.0 port yet, that's fine. Because USB 3.0 is backward compatible and external hard drives also work on USB 2.0 ports.

What other types of connections should I pay attention to with external hard drives?

If you want to use an external hard drive on your own network to be able to access data from any computer in your home, you'll need a NAS hard drive. They have a WLAN, or at least a LAN connection, and can be connected to a router. However, regular external hard drives only have one USB port. The 3.5-inch version also has a connection for an external power supply unit.

Now there are also external hard drives that have an HDMI connection. They are specifically designed for multimedia use, with the hard drive functioning as a playback device and storage medium and capable of transmitting both video and audio signals simultaneously.

Size and weight

If you want to use an external hard drive on the go, you should pay particular attention to its size and weight. Most external storage drives now have similar dimensions.

It is important to ensure that the external hard drive is compatible with the operating system of the computer, game console, or television you are using. Manufacturers usually provide information about compatibility. The hard drive file system provides more information about compatibility.

What is the difference between HDD and SSD?

Biggest difference in construction: HDD plates have moving parts inside the device. The rotating magnetic disk can be heard and the crackling of the read and write heads can also be heard more or less clearly. SSDs, on the other hand, have no moving parts. Similar to a USB stick, it uses a memory chip to store data.

The advantages of SSD hard drives are that they are silent and insensitive to vibration. They are also smaller, lighter and faster. Moreover, they have higher data rates. Last but not least, lifespan also speaks for SSDs: They have significantly more write cycles than HDDs.

On the other hand, the defining advantage of HDDs is their price. Normal hard drives are much cheaper than SSD hard drives. With a smaller storage capacity, the difference is not that big, from a device with a terabyte the price difference becomes obvious.

You'll find more SSD storage drives on laptops than on desktop PCs. Because SSDs have another defining advantage. You hardly need any cooling, which can be very important for mobile devices.

Which are the most well-known external hard drive manufacturers?

There are a number of well-known manufacturers active in the field of external hard drives. The most famous is
  • Western Digital
  • Seagate
  • Intense
  • Freecom

Thus our article about external hard drives and the 11 best product recommendations on the market. After reading this article, you should have found an external hard drives that fits your needs.

The right best external hard drives can help you store your important data easily. Choose the Hard drives that matches the device you have. Don't forget to store and use your hard drives carefully so that the Hard drives has a long life!

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