Purchasing the Right External Hard Disk Drive for Secure Back-Ups

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Purchasing the Right External Hard Disk Drive for Secure Back-Ups

More than a few computer users have been taken by surprise by a sudden hard drive crash. Devastating events like these can leave computer users unable to reach critical files. Many users have lost months of work in one fell swoop by not adequately backing up their work and files. Fortunately, there is a wide array of external hard disk drives available on the market today that computer users can utilise to back up files securely and consistently.

Choosing from among this selection can be a tricky business, given the diverse range of options that are available. Consumers who are looking for external hard disk drives to use as backups for desktops or laptops may want to learn about the differentiating factors between the various models in the marketplace and gain a better idea of the features that make an external drive a strong performer. They may also want to find out about retail options that go beyond traditional brick and mortar electronics vendors to find a greater diversity and range of products. One such example is the online retail site eBay..

Performance Features to Consider in an External Hard Disk Drive

There are several feature sets that consumers should consider when selecting external hard disk drives. These relate to a unit's performance speed, stability, and usability in a variety of settings. Factoring these into the equation when making a purchasing decision is essential to finding the right external HDD for secure back-ups.

Port Speed

External hard disk drives can come with USB or FireWire ports that can deliver a wide range of transfer speeds. If the speed of a back-up is a high priority to a consumer or if a consumer deals regularly with large files that could take some time to transfer, that consumer may want to look for an external HDD that maximises port speed.

Port Type

Maximum Theoretical Speed

USB 2.0

480 Mbps

USB 3.0

5 Gbps


4 Gbps

FireWire 400

400 Mbps

FireWire 800

800 Mbps

Consumers choosing between various ports should consider first and foremost whether or not the porting computer is capable of connecting to an external HDD with that specific port type. Computers with a USB 2.0 port can also be upgraded to USB 3.0 compatibility with a USB 3.0 adapter card.

Storage Capacity

An obvious concern with any external storage unit is its storage capacity. While many consumers may covet external hard drives with the largest storage capacity available, they should keep in mind that as external hard drives grow in capacity, they may decrease in stability. It took a few years of development with 2 TB drives, as an example, to achieve the reliability and stability already evident in a unit with less than 1 TB of storage. A 4 TB to 8 TB external hard disk drive may be an appealing option, but a consumer should review the unit and vet it for stability. As external hard drives continue to advance in this respect, larger and larger storage capacities will catch up with the technology curve and exhibit stability along the same lines as smaller units.

Read and Write Speeds

An external hard drive's read and write speeds work as an extension of port speed and indicate how quickly a drive can transfer a file to and from a computer. Read and write speeds vary widely from one unit to another. With faster read and write speeds comes a higher cost, so consumers should first determine whether speed or cost savings is a higher priority for them. Again, in order to maximise performance, an external hard disk drive's port must match with the port of the computer communicating with it. A drive with a USB 3.0 port and lightning fast read and write speeds cannot perform at its full potential if it is ported with a PC that only has a USB 2.0 port.


Solid state drives are an ever more popular alternative to hard disk drives when it comes to external storage. These SSDs are coveted for their mechanical stability. They do not have the moving parts that an HDD does and, therefore, are less prone to damage when used as a portable, remote unit. Storage capacity is not as large on an SSD, but for users who travel with their units, an SSD can provide the buffer from damage that a consumer needs.

User-Oriented Features to Consider in an External Hard Disk Drive

There is also an array of features that enhance the usability of a drive for a consumer that should be taken into consideration during the purchasing process. Consumers can use these issues to determine whether or not a hard drive works with their lifestyles or work demands.


Portability has already been discussed in regards to drive stability. Portability can also be an issue in terms of how long a user can leverage an external hard drive on the go. Many external hard drives obtain power through the computer when they are connected. Other external HDDs demand AC power. These units can be charged with car charger adapters if they need to be used in a portable setting. Consumers should consider how long a battery lasts on a drive if it has a battery and how often they will be using an external drive in remote settings.

Consumers also need to consider the sturdiness of a drive's form factor. Certain rugged external HDDs are designed primarily for remote use and feature sturdy form factors that can stand up to the bumps that come with mobile use. Mobile consumers may want to make sure that they choose a portable external HDD that is rugged enough to put up with varying usage conditions. Users who use a unit at home or in the office may want a desktop external HDD instead.

Wi-Fi Capabilities

Some users dislike the look or cumbersome quality of wires and prefer looking for wireless solutions. There are external hard disk drives on the market that have wireless file transfer capabilities. Users lose some transfer speed in wireless set-ups, but convenience and a more streamlined aesthetic more than makes up for this with some people.

Mac or PC Compatibility

Many consumers are either entrenched Mac or PC enthusiasts. Some external hard drives may only work with one operating system or the other. Others can be formatted to work with either. Consumers should factor in which operating system the majority of their computers and devices use before selecting an external hard disk drive.

Unique Design Advantages

Some external hard drives may have additional, unique design advantages that appeal to consumers. Some external drives, for example, have stackable form factors. If a user needs to double up on storage, he or she can purchase two drives and store them neatly on top of each other. Other external hard drives may be designed to work with an A/V system, as well. With these units, a user can connect the drive directly to an entertainment centre to enjoy stored media. Other drives might have a sync-and-charge 2.1 amp port in addition to USB or FireWire ports. These ports allow consumers to update and store data from mobile devices and tablets, too.

Buying an External Hard Disk Drive on eBay

For consumers who want a user-friendly and fast way to purchase an external hard disk drive online, the online retail site eBay offers an easy-to-use search interface and a wide catalogue of items for your buying consideration. When you first visit the site, initiating the purchasing process is a simple matter of running a search using the search interface. You can then look through the resulting listings to find an external hard disk drive that works for you.

Getting to Know the Sellers on eBay

Buyers can also use eBay to communicate with and get to know any seller with whom they wish to do business. This can help online consumers guarantee that they get the right products for their needs. Vetting a seller by reviewing that seller's feedback or previous listings can help clarify whether or not a seller is the right fit for you.


Any consumer who regularly uses a computer, whether a desktop or a laptop, for work, recreation, or school needs an external hard drive to use for backing up and storing files. External hard disk drives extend an array of features to end users, including large storage capacities, mobile form factors, and a variety of ways in which users can connect a computer to a drive. Learning the advantages of all of these types of features can help consumers decide what types of external hard disk drives they need to execute secure back-ups of their high-priority files.

Once consumers have gathered information on the variety of external HDDs on the market, they can head to their local electronics stores or take advantage of the greater diversity found on the Internet on sites like the online aggregator eBay. These types of sites give consumers a way to look through listings from multiple vendors and do easy and effective comparison shopping. By running a search and vetting sellers, consumers can use a site like eBay to find the right drive for their needs in no time at all.

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