Buying the Right External Hard Drive?

There is no doubt that buying the right external hard drive is officially a nightmare. After all, there are so many different types, brands and features to choose from. Why can’t these manufacturers get their act together and stick to some basic guidelines? Well they simply do not have any guidelines or rules when it comes to manufacturing external hard drives and this is exactly why people are now searching for a good external hard drive buying guide.

At first glance, most external hard drives appear to look the same, but they are not. Apart from the obvious size differences, the hardware inside can greatly vary, the connections needed can be one of four, and the capacity is definitely always different.

Let’s briefly cover some aspects you need to be aware of when buying the right external hard drive.

Size Does Matter

When it comes to buying an external hard drive size is a huge factor. We are not talking about the actual dimensions of the device but the capacity or files it will hold. Of course external hard drives are getting smaller in dimentions and larger in capacity.

To figure out what size hard drive you will need, you will have to ask yourself some questions. for example, what are you going to use this backup storage device for. If you plan to use it for a large amount of files, or even movies, then you will obviously need more storage space.

If you pan to use this external hard drive for computer backup which continually backs up over older files then the space you need would be smaller. Its all up to you.

Now days a 250 GB hard drive is considered small so I suggest you always go bigger than that.

What brand?

As I have said, the manufacturing of external hard drives is not regulated so the quality and features of any devices can vary greatly. The best way to judge which brand is good is to check out other buyers comments on sites like I personally have purchased a western digital 3 TB external hard drive because of the reviews I read about on-line. Also this hard drive is compatible with an Apple Mac, which is important now days.


How do you want to connect your hard drive to your computer? Do you have a new or old computer? You will need to know these things as the answers might mean you need a different connection.

If you have an old computer you will need a connection that will be compatible with the age of your hardware. For example you might have a USB 1.1 or 2.0 connection on your computer. Therefore you need to make sure the external hard drive will be compatible with that USB type.

There is a new connection, eSata, which may not be right for your requirements, therefore this is why it is important to know what connection you have available.

A drive which supports USB 3.0 is probably your best bet—it has the speed of eSATA but is compatible with every computer made in the last 10 years. Many drives that support eSATA also have USB 2.0 plugs, which provide the same advantages.

External Hard Drive Power Supply

Smaller drives are usually powered by the Direct Current (DC) that your USB port can put out. That means you don’t need to worry about extra cords. But it also means that these drives will run down your laptop battery faster.

Larger drives and older drives require separate Alternating Current (AC) connections (although they use an inverter to convert it to DC). That means you’ll always need to find an extra plug for these drives, which can be annoying.

You will have to choose the right external hard drive power options to suit your needs. I personally like the (DC) direct current connections even if they are draining power from my computer. They are just easier to connect and use.

Buying an external hard drive can be a nightmare, however with a little education the buying process can become a lot less painful.