Advice on external hard drives
The storage capacity
When choosing a hard drive, it's important to determine how much storage capacity you need. Do you occasionally want to save office documents, smartphone photos, and backups? You'll need an external HDD with 1 to 4TB storage space. Do you want to save large files such as Full HD videos, high resolution photos, and games? Choose an external HDD of 5TB. As files keep getting bigger, your hard drive will be future-proof with more storage space.
How many files can I save?
- 1TB: 100 Full HD movies of 2 hours or 10,000 music albums or 100,000 photos.
- 2TB: 200 Full HD movies of 2 hours or 20,000 music albums or 200,000 photos.
- 4TB: 400 Full HD movies of 2 hours or 40,000 music albums or 400,000 photos.
- 8TB: 800 Full HD movies of 2 hours or 80,000 music albums or 800,000 photos.
- 16TB: 1600 Full HD movies of 2 hours or 160,000 music albums or 1,600,000 photos.
The speed of an external HDD
The speed of an external HDD is expressed in rotations per minute (RPM). The more rotations, the faster the read and write speed of the drive. A hard drive of 7200RPM is the fastest. A disk with 5400 or 5900RPM is slower, but uses less energy, becomes less warm, and is more quiet. The reading and writing speed averages between 100 and 200MB per second. This allows you to transfer a 10GB film in 50 to 100 seconds.
Build and size
An external hard drive is built from the inside out and made of moving parts. The part where the data is stored on is a disc that rotates and can be read. This makes an HDD susceptible to wear and it may not work as well if it moves. An HDD is often 2 or 3 times larger than an SSD, sometimes even more. HDDs come in 2.5 and 3.5 inches. The 2.5-inch models are often easier to carry and don't require a separate power cable.
Compatibility indicates which operating system an external hard disk is formatted for. In other words: which system can be used directly from the drive. This can be Windows, Mac, Playstation 4, or Xbox. Pay attention to this, because an external HDD for Mac can't be used with a Windows computer and vice versa.
The most common connection for external HDDs is USB-A, also known as USB 3.0. This is still the most common type of USB, although USB-C is on the rise. Many hard drives for Mac in particular have a USB-C or Thunderbolt (same port) connection. The USB version also says something about the speed. USB 3.1 is up to 2 times faster than USB 3.0. A cable is included with most hard drives.
Do you want to take your external hard drive with you? With a case for hard drives, you can ensure that it won't get damaged as quickly. No dust is added and a case partially absorbs shocks, so that the parts of your HDD are not damaged. Cases for HDDs come in different shapes and colors.