To add storage to your laptop, there are a few different ways to do it. One option is to add an external hard drive. This can be done either via USB or Thunderbolt. Another option is to add an internal hard drive. This will require opening your laptop and installing the drive yourself. If you're not comfortable doing this, you can always take it to a computer technician and have them do it for you. Finally, you can add solid state drives (SSDs) which are much faster than regular hard drives but a bit expensive. Whichever route you decide to go, adding storage to your laptop or computer is a fairly easy process.
Going by our initial research and criteria, we settled on nine external desktop hard drives and five portable models to test. We first tested them using the benchmarking program HD Tune. For a more real-world measurement, we then timed the transfer of a 15 GB Blu-ray movie and a 31 GB folder of music. We performed each test six times, and we determined the average read and write speeds to rule out performance hiccups. After comparing results for each drive, we took the top performers and timed their backups on a 2019 MacBook Pro using Time Machine.
Assessing negative customer reviews has its shortcomings. For one, people are more likely to post a review when they have a problem. Also, because of the limited information available in some reviews, it can be hard to differentiate between hardware failures and software issues or user errors that could cause problems with a drive. Looking at the proportion of reviews, rather than the totals, helped us account for that. But all the drives shared the same basic complaints no matter which one we looked at: All had reports of failure spanning anywhere from day one to a few years in. Still, we used the information in owner reviews to the best of our ability to weed out drives that seemed especially unreliable.
The Seagate Backup Plus Slim was our previous portable hard drive pick, but we bumped it in favor of the Toshiba Canvio Flex because the Seagate model is more expensive per terabyte, its warranty is shorter, and it offers only up to 2 TB of space.
In an era when many gigabytes of cloud storage storage cost a mere few dollars per month, and trim, slim external SSDs are getting cheaper, external hard drives, based on spinning platter disks, might appear less essential than they once were. But modern ones are faster, more stylish, and often more durable than their counterparts from a few years ago. They're ever more capacious for the money, too. For about $50, you can add a terabyte of extra storage to your laptop or desktop by just plugging in a USB cable.
Choosing an external drive isn't as simple as buying the most expensive one you can afford, however. The drive capacity is the most important factor to consider, and it can increase or decrease the cost dramatically depending on your needs. Other factors include the physical size of the drive (is it designed to be carted around, or to sit on your desk), how rugged it is, the interface it uses to connect to your PC, and even what colors it comes in. This guide will help you make sense of these and many more questions that arise while you're shopping for an external hard drive.
First off: We've outlined below our top picks among external hard drives we've tested. Read on for our labs-tested favorites, followed by the buying basics you should know when buying an external drive. Our article concludes with a detailed spec breakout of our top choices.
And portable hard drives can be a great value if what you need is raw capacity above all else. You can find a 2TB portable hard drive with ease (possibly even a 4TB one, depending on the day) for less than $100. A 2TB SSD, though Expect to pay at least two to three times as much as you would for that 2TB hard drive. And let's not even talk about the cost of 4TB and 8TB external SSDs.
A desktop drive with a single platter mechanism will typically use a 3.5-inch drive inside and comes in capacities up to 12TB, though a few 16TB, 18TB, and 20TB single drives in external chassis have started to emerge. Most are roughly 5 inches tall and 2 inches wide. In addition to storing large media collections, these drives can also serve as inexpensive repositories for backups of your computer's hard drive that you schedule, using either software that comes with the drive or a third-party backup utility.
At the other end of the physical-size spectrum are portable drives. Hard drive-based portables make use inside of the same kinds of platter-drive mechanisms used in laptops. These are called generically \"2.5-inch drives,\" though they are actually a smidge wider than that. Any portable platter-based hard drive should fit easily in a purse or even a coat pocket. As a rule, portable drives get their power from the computer to which you connect them, through the interface cable, so there's no need for a wall outlet or a power cord/brick.
The best way to gauge relative value among similar portable drives is to calculate the cost per gigabyte, dividing the cost of the drive in dollars by the capacity in gigabytes to see the relative per-gig price. Example: A $60 1TB (1,000GB) hard drive would run you about 6 cents per gigabyte, while an $80 2TB (2,000GB) drive would work out to about 4 cents per gigabyte.
How an external drive connects to your PC or Mac is second only to the type of storage mechanism it uses in determining how fast you'll be able to access data. These connection types are ever in flux, but these days, most external hard drives use a flavor of USB, or in rare cases, Thunderbolt.
You'll only see the speed benefits of Thunderbolt 3, however, if you have a drive that's SSD-based, or a multi-drive, platter-based desktop DAS that is set up in a RAID array. For ordinary external hard drives, Thunderbolt is very much the exception, not the rule. It tends to show up mainly in products geared toward the Mac market.
A desktop hard drive with a single platter-based mechanism inside, or a portable hard drive, is far more likely to make use of plain old USB instead. Almost every recent drive we have reviewed supports USB, and the same goes for laptops and desktops. USB ports are ubiquitous, and many external drives now come with cables with both rectangular USB Type-A connectors and oval-shaped USB Type-C ones to enable adapter-free connections to PCs that have only one type. If the drive includes only a single cable, you may need an adapter, depending on your computer's available USB ports. Be mindful of that.
In addition to their physical shape differences, USB ports on the computer side will variously support USB 3.0, 3.1, or 3.2, depending on the age of the computer and how up to date its marketing materials are. You don't have to worry about the differences among these three USB specs when looking at ordinary hard drives, though. All are inter-compatible, and you won't see a speed bump from one versus the other in the hard drive world. The drive platters' own speed is the limiter, not the flavor of USB 3.
The only case with hard drives where the USB standard matters much is if you connect a drive to an old-style, low-bandwidth USB 2.0 port, which is better reserved for items like keyboards and mice. (Also, if it's a portable drive, that USB 2.0 port may not supply sufficient power to run the drive in the first place, so the speed shortfall may be moot.) Any remotely recent computer will have some faster USB 3-class ports, though.
To get you started in the right direction, below are the best external hard drives (platter-based models) we've tested of late, at a variety of prices and capacities. They're a fine starter mix for your research. Bear in mind that most of them come in a range of capacity options, so know that even if the specific model we tested is too big or small for your needs, the drive maker may well offer it in a more fitting size. And if you want to explore the best external SSDs, as well, click on the preceding link.
Computer hard drives contain all the data in your PC, from the operating system to music, movies and video games. Whether you have a laptop or a desktop computer, there are several types of hard drives to choose from. The most common hard drive interfaces are PATA, SATA and SAS.
HDDs use platters to perform their essential functions. A motor spins the plates while an actuator arm reads and writes on them. Inside the hard drive, there's also an I/O controller that communicates with the other components of the computer system. SSDs, instead, use flash memory.
PATA hard drives need bulky ribbon-like cables to connect to the motherboard. These cables may cause overheating inside the computer case, especially for laptops. If you want multiple PATA hard drives in your PC, you must connect them with the correct jumpers in a master-slave configuration. The master drive communicates directly with the computer and controls the slave drive. This is possible thanks to the configuration of the motherboard, which has both a primary and secondary PATA channel. The PATA standard can transmit data at a maximum speed of 133MBps.
SATA computer hard drives can transmit data at a speed of 150, 300 or 600MBps. SATA drives improve the overall speed of the PC, allowing apps and games to load faster. These drives connect directly to the motherboard with cables that are much smaller than the PATA ones, allowing air to flow better inside the computer case. Each drive connects directly to the motherboard, with no need for a master-slave configuration. SATA cables have a maximum length of 3.3ft so that you can mount the hard drive everywhere inside the computer case.
Thanks to their speed and reliability, SAS drives are mostly common in servers, data centers and business computer systems. They can run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and handle up to 1.6 million hours of use at 45. On the other hand, SATA drives have more capacity and consume less power. SAS drives use cables with a maximum length of 33ft, to meet the needs of large or complex servers. They use a redundant array of independent disks (RAID) to prevent data losses and downtime; If one of the drives fails while you're working, the data will still be available on another drive. 59ce067264