A Buyer's Guide to External Hard Drives2253716

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External drives provide a convenient and portable way to back up your computer's internal drive, or to store data you need to be able to transport from one place to another. With prices for external hard drives falling, they're a surprisingly affordable option, as well.

External drives come in a variety of sizes and types, as well as several different brands. It might be a good idea to research individual brands before making a final purchase, as some have proven more reliable than others in long-term use.

Uses for External Hard Drives

Hard drives are handy for backing up your hard drive contents. Most external drives can hold the entire contents of an average hard drive, giving you an easily accessible storage area for vital files.

If you work with large files on a regular basis, such as complex graphics or video, you might have trouble keeping enough space on your hard drive to work with. Using external drives, you can place these large files off your main hard drive, but still have easy access through USB or firewire connections. In general, external drives aren't as fast as your internal drive, but in most cases the transfer speed will be fast enough for easy access from your main computer. External hard drives with firewire connections will be faster than those with USB connections.

If you use external drives with an independent power source for file backup, be sure to protect them from power surges in order to prevent data loss.

Choosing an External Hard Drive

Before purchasing an external hard drive, consider your personal needs. Some drives require a power source, and so are less portable than those which don't. However, external hard drives that don't require a power source often have less available storage space than those that run on their own power. If you need a large amount of space, such as a Terabyte or more, you'll probably need to buy a drive with an independent power source. If you want a small, compact drive you can carry easily from place to place, look for a drive that pulls power from your computer rather than having to be plugged into an outlet.

Different brands have different software requirements, as well. While many hard drives are plug and play, others require installation of drivers. If you don't want to have to add software to your computer, you might want to take special care to research various external hard drives to ensure they'll work as plug and play. Also, if a hard drive requires drivers in order to work properly, be sure the drivers are compatible with your computer's operating system. Many external hard drives will work without installation of the included drivers, but some will not, so a little research can save you time and money in getting exactly what you want.

Overall, terabyte external hard drive are an excellent investment in data storage and protection, giving you an easy way to back up your computer and still maintain easy access to your data and files.

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