What is an External Hard Drive
External hard disk drives are additional data storage devices. There are two types of external hard disk drives: portable and desktop. Very often the capacity of your PC's or laptop's HDD or SDD is insufficient and that's when external hard drives come in handy. Moreover, as a rule, USB external hard drives also provide reliable backup of your most important data: encrypt the data on external hard disk drive and restrict access to it on a software level.
Aside from external hard drives, more sophisticated and high-tech storage devices are also available to all computer owners: solid state drives. They boast the highest data transfer rate possible and compact size. Therefore, we strongly recommend you to check our review on solid state drives! To be able to customize the look of your CD/DVDs covers, we can offer you to read our review on CD/DVD printers and choose the one that suits you better.
What Features to Compare
The first feature we are going to tell you about is the type of external hard drives. In general, they are either portable or desktop. Portable external hard drives are very compact and can work directly off the USB port, so you just need a cable. Moreover, you can carry such external hard drives around wherever you go. Desktop external hard drive disks, in their turn, boast higher capacity and are perfect for home use. However, they require connection to the mains (via power adapter).
The next parameter to take into consideration is the capacity of every external hard disk drive. To put it simpler, this feature tells you how much data a device can store. For some customers, this is the most important feature for choosing an external HDD. The capacity ranges from several hundred megabytes (200MB, 500MB, 750MB) on some outdated models to several terabytes (1TB, 2TB, 3 TB) on the newest HDDs. The latter are much better in terms of price to capacity ratio.
Next, you should know the precise speed (or, in other words, the data transfer rate) which determines how fast the data can be transferred from/to the external hard drive. With ever-increasing data amounts and file sizes, speed becomes a really important performance indicator. The speed primarily depends on what type of USB interface is used: it can be either USB 2.0 (in this case the maximum data transfer rate reaches 480 Mb/s) or USB 3.0 (it's much faster - up to 5 Gb/s). Of course, the maximum speed is guaranteed only if both a computer and an external HDD support USB 3.0. However, that isn't the only parameter determining the performance of the device - you should also know the spindle rotation speed - the higher it is, the faster your HDD works. Modern external hard drive disks boast a spindle rotation speed of 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM.
Size and Design
Another important feature is the size and design. It determines not only how an external HDD looks but also the form factor and weight of the device. The form factor or the size is measured in inches. Most commonly, the form factor of external hard drive disks varies from 2.5'' to 3.5'' - it's, actually, the size of magnetic disc inside the casing. No need to say, the smaller the form factor is, the more compact and lightweight the device is. However, bigger external hard drives usually have a larger capacity.
OS Compatibility and Backup
External hard drive disks come with different default file systems and that's why you should always be fully aware if the device can work with your operating system. For example, if you have a device featuring FAT32 file management system, you won't be able to use it with iMac. Of course, you can reformat the external HDD and after that it will become Mac-friendly, but it will require deleting all your files. In general, the most widespread operating system (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux) run on different file systems (FAT, FAT32, NTFS, ext4), so if a new external hard drive doesn't work with your, say, Ubuntu Linux - just reformat it and everything will be fine. Finally, any worthy external HDD must provide the maximum security of the data stored on it. And that's why different back-up technologies are used. Some USB external hard drives are capable of performing local backups, which means the files are copied to the external hard drive. Some models support cloud backup, i.e. your files are copied to a remote cloud storage. The backups are usually carried out automatically, so you just need to configure the backup schedule.
Seagate Expansion STEB5000100
Seagate Expansion external hard drive disk is a desktop model, designed not for daily carrying but for using the device as an additional storage aside from your computer. The unit is powered from the mains via an adapter that is supplied in a package. The power cable is 4 feet long. It's a fantastic device for storing your ever-growing collection of files (particularly high-resolution movies and videos), but if you need a portable external HDD - this one is just too big.
This USB external hard drive offers several capacity options, starting with 2TB. Actually, 2TB are enough for copying all important files from your old PC or laptop. Other versions include 3TB, 4TB, and 5TB. Using this external hard drive disk allows you to access scores of files without slowing the operating system down. If you need to have all your favorite movies and music at hand - pick one of high-capacity Seagate external HDDs.
Just as most other external hard drives, this Seagate model brags the spindle rotation speed of 5400 RPM. It's enough to ensure high-speed data transferring. Of course, this brand-new device supports USB 3.0 interface and the maximum read/write speed might reach 5 Gb/s, though if you connect a device to a computer that supports USB 2.0 interface only, the data transfer rate will go down to 480 Mb/s. Never forget that USB 3.0 is totally compatible with USB 2.0, but the data transfer rate aligns to that of the older interface.
Design and Size
It's a rather stylish desktop USB external hard drive that boasts a gray plastic casing. Unlike portable external HDDs, this model has 4 small feet, so you can put it in the upright position instead of laying it on the table. The size of this device is following: 6.93 x 4.75 x 1.44 inches, so it's just as big as any present-day tablet. The weight of the HDD is 2.1 lbs, so it's several times heavier than a portable device. No need to say, the higher capacity means the bigger form factor, which is 3.5'' for this device.
OS Compatibility and Backup
This Seagate Expansion is supplied with a Windows-compatible formatting, so if you use this OS, you just have to connect the external HDD to the mains, plug the USB cable into a computer - and the device is ready to use. No additional software is necessary. Moreover, fans of Apple devices will not be upset as this desktop USB external hard drive is compatible with Mac OS right after reformatting. Once it's been done, you can connect this device to your iMac or MacBook and it will work perfectly well!
Western Digital My Passport
This external hard drive disk is a portable model that is rather compact, so you can easily carry it with you in a laptop bag or backpack. A fantastic device that you can always have at hand no matter where you go: to work, on a trip, or to college. Since it's a portable external hard drive, it's powered from USB. Therefore, you just need to plug a USB cable into your PC or laptop and the HDD will work. No need to say, you can use the same USB 3.0 interface to connect the external hard drive disk to a TV and other devices.
Having chosen this portable external hard drive, you can select one of the several available models that differ in the capacity they provide. All in all, there are the following capacity options: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB. Therefore, you can pick the most appropriate capacity according to your needs. For example, an external hard drive disk with 500GB capacity is enough for storing your favorite pictures and music, though if you are fond of videos and movies - you'd better pick an HDD with at least 1TB of storage.
The data transfer speed of this external hard drive depends on the type of USB connection you use. Western Digital has a USB 3.0 support, so if you plug it into the USB 3.0 slot of your PC or laptop, you will be able to transfer files at the maximum speed of 5 Gb/s. However, if your computer has only USB 2.0 interfaces, the read/write speed will fall to 480 Mb/s. However, these are the maximum rates and the real speed might differ for various reasons. The spindle rotation speed this external hard drive disk is 5400 RPM.
Design and Size
Western Digital portable external hard drive is rather compact. Just imagine! It's almost of the same size with your passport. The dimensions of the device are as follows: 4.3 x 3.2 x 0.6 inches. It goes without saying that the weight of the unit depends on its capacity and the one we have tested weighs 0.34 lbs. We all know that some people want to emphasize their personal style, and this external HDD will give a chance to pick one of 4 available colors: black, blue, white, and berry.
OS Compatibility and Backup
This USB external hard drive supports USB 3.0 connection and, of course, it is fully compatible with computers, laptops, and other devices that have USB 2.0 interface only. The gadget is ready to use right out of the box in case you use a Windows-operated computer (or laptop). If, however, you're a Mac user - a reformatting of the external hard drive's file system is required. Moreover, the unit provides the highest level of security for your data - both local and cloud automatic backups are available.
Seagate Backup Plus Slim
Expand Your Data Storage Capabilities
The new series of Seagate external hard drives not only got larger capacity (up to 4TB) but also became more compact. However, today having a large capacity only is insufficient - there are lots of other manufacturers of external hard drives and their devices might provide the same storage space and that's why software comes to the fore. No secret that any user has gigabytes of important files that need to be kept safe. And if you could use a couple of flash drives several years ago, an external hard drive is required to do the same thing today. This Seagate external HDD is rather compact and you can carry it with you (in a pocket of your jacket, for example) and use whenever you need to. The durability of any external hard drive depends on the material it's made of. The casing of this Seagate external hard drive is made of metal, which ensures a decent shock- and scratch-resistance. If a color matters to you, you are welcome to choose one of four available colors: black, blue, red or silver. In all, this is a really worthy device that will backup all your important files and you will never lose them.
Back up and Save Up
The first thing you should do after purchasing this amazing external hard drive is install the Seagate Dashboard app. The Protect function allows you to make a backup with a single click or you can create your own backup schedule and the software will do it automatically. If you deal with lots of data, back it all up with the help of this function and you will never get in trouble. Moreover, nearly everybody uses smartphones today and social networks have become a part of our everyday life. Millions of people take pictures and upload them to Facebook and other similar networks. However, most smartphones have a limited storage space and that's why you can use Seagate Lyve app that will move the images from your device right to the external hard drive. Moreover, Seagate gives every user 200GB of free OneDrive storage. And believe our experience, keeping your most important files in a cloud storage ensures the maximum safety.
Install NTFS driver for Mac and use this disk with both PC and Mac devices without reformatting.
More Products to Consider
USB hubs will help you charge several gadgets at a time!
Western Digital My Book Desktop
This is a desktop external hard drive that helps you easily expand storage space if your computer's drive is overfilled with files. This Western Digital device is a perfect choice for professional photographers who make thousands of pictures and need immense storage space for them. Storing gigabytes of images right on your computer makes no sense, whilst an external hard drive disk not only contains all essential files but also backs them all up.
It's one of the most high-capacity USB external hard drives available on the market. Several capacity options are available: 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, and 8TB. Thus, even the most demanding buyer can find the right model of this fantastic hard drive. The 8TB external hard drive disk allows you to store all your files: images, photos, games, music, videos, movies, and so on. Therefore, storing HD-videos and Blu-Ray movies won't be a problem any more!
This cutting-edge USB external hard drive surely has what to boast of in terms of data transfer rate. If connected via USB 3.0, the maximum speed reaches 5 Gb/s, so you will be able to copy files momentarily and an HD movie will require several minutes (forget about painful 2-hour waits!). If the other device or computer has USB 2.0 support only, don't worry - this external HDD is 100% compatible with USB 2.0 but the read/write speed falls to 480 Mb/s.
Design and Size
Western Digital My Book desktop external hard drive has a stylish black plastic casing that has 4 small feet, so you can easily put the device upright. This unit looks stunning on your computer desk. As usual, an external hard drive of this kind can be placed right near the monitor. The front panel of this external HDD has a light indicator and a stylish Western Digital logo. The overall weight of the unit is 2.23 lbs, so it's not the best device to carry around. Oh, let's also mention the form factor of the external HDD that is 3.5''.
OS Compatibility and Backup
This WD external hard drive disk is compatible with Windows OS, so if you are using Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10, you just need to connect the computer and the HDD via a USB cable. Although, it doesn't mean that this model can't be used as Mac hard drive external device. Since Windows and Mac OS are based on different file management systems, after a quick reformatting, Western Digital external hard drive will become Mac-friendly. If you are concerned about security of your data, this device is surely a must-have. First of all, the unit is supplied with WD Backup software - it works quietly and performs automatic backups. No need to say, you can set a schedule of backups, and if you have a Dropbox account - this software can save backup files right to it! But that's not all - Acronis True Image WD Edition software backs up files on a system level, which means it makes a copy of the whole system (with all settings, installed apps, etc.). Be sure, if a system failure occurs, you will be able to restore it entirely thanks to Acronis True Image.
Toshiba Canvio is a portable external hard drive for people whose job includes making many presentations and who, therefore, always need to carry an external hard drive around. The device is powered via USB interface, so no additional power cables are required - just a USB cable. This model is an excellent add-on to your PC or laptop. Also, this external hard drive disk is a real must-have for netbook users.
No need to say, this portable external hard drive is offered in several capacity options. The most low-capacity version of Toshiba Canvio gives you 500GB of storage space, which is enough for storing your most important files and documents, as well as for storing OS copies. If you are an amateur (or professional) photographer, pick a 1TB model whereas high-resolution movies require at least 2TB or 3TB of storage space. Keep in mind that any modern 3D movie at Full HD or Ultra HD resolution takes several gigabytes of space.
This high-tech external hard drive has a spindle rotation speed of 5400 RPM. It's enough to provide the minimum response time of 12 ms and the cache memory of 8MB. Therefore, an HD movie may be written on this external HDD within just 3-4 minutes. Of course, the device supports USB 3.0 interface, so the maximum data transfer rate reaches 5 Gb/s, though the speed is significantly lower when connected via a USB 2.0 port.
Design and Size
This Toshiba portable external hard drive is one of the most compact models on the market. The dimensions are 4.7 x 3.1 x 0.59 inches, so it easily fits even a pocket of a jacket. The casing has a special matte coating that ensures a tight grip and leaves no fingerprints on it. Moreover, it's very pleasant to touch. The device is available in several colors: black, white, and silver. So, the device is not only durable but also nice to look at.
OS Compatibility and Backup
This Toshiba portable external hard drive connects to a computer (or another device) via USB 3.0 interface. The unit requires no software to start using it - you just need to connect it! However, if you happen to plug it into your iMac or MacBook and the device won't work - don't worry, it's totally normal since Windows and Mac OS use different file management systems. Thus, reformat the external HDD and it will work with Mac OS properly.
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