Tech Q&A: What kind of external hard drive should I get?

Q: What kind of external hard drive should I get?

A: The best drive to purchase depends on how much storage you need and how you plan to use it. This page offers a few suggestions. Any of these drives would be a good choice, but selecting one based on your needs will be better.

Solid State External USB3 Hard Drive

For most uses, the best external drive to use is the Samsung T1 solid state hard drive (SSD) with USB3 capability. It’s fast, small, light weight, requires no power cord, and has no moving parts. The 250GB model is $120. The 500GB model is $200. The size is about the same dimensions of a small stack of business cards with the thickness of a USB cable. For other drive considerations, keep reading further down this page. [Buy]


Passport Size External Hard Drive

If you need more than 250GB or 500GB of storage, you might consider a passport size external hard drive. These use traditional hard drive technology which has spinning metal platers inside. They are slower, bigger, heavier, and use more electricity than solid state drives. However, they are much less expensive and generally store more data. So, they are usually a good choice for photographers and videographers. A good drive to choose is the Western Digital My Passport Ultra drive with USB3 capability and 2TB of storage (2 terabytes = 2,048 gigabytes). The reason to select the 2TB model is because it’s only slightly more money than the 1TB model but has twice the storage. It’s the best value when considering the cost per terabyte. A big advantage of this drive over other drives is that it is powered over the USB cable and needs no power cord. [Buy]


Book Size External Powered Hard Drive

External powered hard drives generally offer the best value in external storage. They have the advantages and disadvantages of the passport size drive described above. However, the require a power cord and come in larger capacities. A good choice is the Western Digital My Book 4 TB USB 3.0 drive shown below for $127. For people who have large collections of files that they don’t want spread over multiple drives, these are a good choice. [Buy]