How to Choose the Right External Hard Drive for Your Needs

Your Guide to buying the best External hard drives


The purpose of this buying guide is to provide readers with all the information they need to make an informed decision when purchasing an external hard drive. This guide will cover topics such as size, connectivity, speed, compatibility, and more, to ensure readers make the best choice for their individual needs. It is important to take into account these factors to ensure the hard drive meets all requirements and fits within the desired budget. This guide will provide readers with all the tips and advice needed to make the right choice when purchasing an external hard drive.

Key features

  1. Capacity: How much storage capacity do you need? Most external hard drives come in sizes ranging from 250GB to 4TB.
  2. Connection Type: Are you connecting the drive to a PC, Mac, or a tablet? External hard drives use USB, Thunderbolt, or FireWire connections.
  3. Form Factor: Are you looking for a small, portable drive or a larger, high-capacity drive? External hard drives come in a variety of form factors, from pocket-sized drives to larger 3.5-inch desktop models.
  4. Data Transfer Speed: Are you looking for a fast drive, or are you willing to sacrifice some speed for lower cost? External hard drives can have data transfer speeds that range from slow to very fast.
  5. Security: Do you need to secure your data? Many external hard drives feature password protection and encryption for extra security.
  6. Compatibility: Is your drive compatible with your existing computer system? Make sure to check the compatibility of the hard drive before purchasing.
  7. Price: How much do you want to spend? External hard drives can range from fairly cheap to quite expensive, depending on their capacity, connection type, and data transfer speed.

See the most popular External hard drives on Amazon

Important considerations


  • Portability - External hard drives are typically small and lightweight, making them highly portable and easy to take with you on the go.
  • Capacity - With sizes ranging from 250GB to 10TB, external hard drives offer a tremendous amount of storage space for all types of data.
  • Compatibility - External hard drives are compatible with a wide range of devices, including PCs, Macs, and gaming consoles.
  • Affordability - External hard drives are often more affordable than other storage solutions, such as solid state drives.
  • Durability - External hard drives are designed to be tough and withstand harsh conditions, such as drops and extreme temperatures.


  • Cost: External hard drives can be pricey, depending on the size and type.
  • Physical Damage: External hard drives are vulnerable to physical damage if not stored properly.
  • Lifespan: External hard drives are prone to short useful lifespan if used frequently.
  • Data Loss: External hard drives can be susceptible to data loss due to power outages, viruses, or other technical issues.
  • Data Breach: External hard drives are at risk for data breach if stolen or not stored securely.
  • Transfer Speed: External hard drives can be slow, depending on the connection type.

Best alternatives

  1. Solid-State Drives (SSDs) - A type of data storage device which uses integrated circuit assemblies to store data persistently, typically using flash memory, and functioning as secondary storage in a device.
  2. Portable External Drives - A small, lightweight device with a spinning hard drive inside. The drive is usually powered by a USB cable and can be used to back up and store data.
  3. Network-Attached Storage (NAS) - A type of file-level computer data storage server connected to a computer network which provides data access to a heterogeneous group of clients.
  4. Cloud Storage - A model of computer data storage in which the digital data is stored in logical pools, across multiple servers and locations.
  5. Thumb/Flash Drives - A small, portable, USB-powered data storage device. They are used for transporting and backing up files and are commonly used for personal data storage.

Related tools, supplies, and accessories

  • Power Supply - An external power source, typically in the form of a cord or adapter, that is used to power an external hard drive.
  • External Enclosure - A protective case designed to securely hold an internal hard drive.
  • Cables and Connectors - USB cables, FireWire cables, and other types of cables used to connect the external hard drive to a computer or other device.
  • Hard Drive Mounting Bracket - A bracket used to securely mount an internal hard drive in the external enclosure.
  • Screwdriver Set - A set of screwdrivers used to remove and replace screws on the external enclosure and hard drive mounting bracket.
  • Data Recovery Software - Software that is used to recover data from a damaged hard drive.
  • Backup Software - Software that is used to create a backup of the data stored on an external hard drive.

Common questions

  1. What are the different types of External hard drives? There are three main types of external hard drives: HDD (Hard Disk Drive), SSD (Solid State Drive), and Hybrid drives which combine the two technologies. HDD external hard drives are more affordable, but offer slower read/write speeds and are less rugged. SSD external hard drives are considerably faster and more robust, but are considerably more expensive. Hybrid drives are a balance of both, but cost more than HDD models.
  2. What size External hard drive do I need? The size of the external hard drive depends on your individual needs. If you are simply storing large files, such as videos or music, then smaller sizes such as 1TB or 2TB may be suitable. If you are backing up your entire computer system, then larger sizes such as 4TB or 8TB may be needed. It is also important to consider the transfer rate and read/write speeds when deciding what size to buy.
  3. What should I consider when buying an External hard drive? When buying an external hard drive, there are several important factors to consider. First, decide which type of drive is best for your needs (HDD, SSD, or Hybrid). Look at the transfer rate and read/write speeds of the drive to ensure it is fast enough for your needs. Consider the size of the drive and make sure it is large enough for what you need to store. Also, consider the warranty and customer support offered by the manufacturer.
  4. What is the difference between a portable and desktop External hard drive? Portable external hard drives are designed to be easily transported and are usually smaller and more lightweight. They are typically powered by the USB connection and do not require an external power supply. Desktop external hard drives are larger and require an external power supply. They are designed to stay in one place and are usually more reliable than portable models.
  5. What is the difference between USB 3.0 and USB-C? USB 3.0 is an older standard that has been largely replaced by USB-C. USB 3.0 has a maximum transfer speed of 5Gbps while USB-C is much faster with its maximum speed of 10Gbps. USB-


In 2018, a man in China was surprised to find a full set of movie tickets in his external hard drive when he plugged it in. The tickets had been placed there by the previous owner as a free gift. The man was able to take his family to the movies for free. According to a news report by South China Morning Post, the man said, "The previous owner of the hard drive was really generous."Source

Disclaimer: This buying guide was not created by humans, and it is possible that some of it's content is inaccurate or incomplete. We do not guarantee or take any liability for the accuracy of this buying guide. Additionally, the images on this page were generated by AI and may not accurately represent the product that is being discussed. We have tried to convey useful information, but it is our subjective opinion and should not be taken as complete or factual.