A Guide to Portable Hard Drives
There are plenty of portable USB hard disks on the market to choose from, and truthfully many of them can do what you need these to do just fine. There are, however, several things you should consider when buying a conveyable external hard drive. In this guide, I review (what I believe) are the main considerations when making your decision on which drive to purchase.

best portable hard drives

Performance

The transfer speed of the drive is obviously the real key in how the drive performs, or in other words, how fast you can copy files to and from it. Since most people use external drives to backup large files such as personal photos, movies, and music, it is vital that the drive you get can transfer large files quickly. Transfer speeds are usually measured in megabits per second (mb/s) or gigabits per second (gb/s). The deciding key to consider here is whether you want to go with a drive that utilizes USB “SuperSpeed” 3.0 or perhaps the older legacy USB 2.0. Transfer rates for USB 3.0 enabled drives are generally around 3 times being a USB 2.0 drive in tangible world tests. Since drives which use USB 3.0 are backward compatible with USB 2.0 ports, we recommend choosing a USB 3.0 enabled device so that you can take advantage of the faster speeds. Note that you will need to have a USB 3.0 port on your own machine to take advantage of the faster transfer speeds, but USB 3.0 ports have become more standard on modern computers. (Transfer speeds for drives of comparable USB speed will change slightly from drive to operate a vehicle, but the difference is negligible.) There are other connection types also such as FireWire and eSATA along with the new Thunderbolt interface, that are on the newer macs, but for the vast majority of users we recommend the USB as it is the most prevalent.

Storage capacity may be the other factor to look into in regards to performance. Portable hard disk drives are available in sizes the size of 3TB’s, although the most popular dimension is 1TB, which should be adequate for the average user. A 500GB drive is a good size to choose as it still provides plenty of storage but at usually about 30-40% less over a similar 1TB drive.

Features

Probably the most important feature to consider in a portable drive pertains to security. Specifically, you should consider the level of encryption and password protection that is included with a drive. Since by their nature portable hard drives are more likely to be lost or stolen than the usual desktop drive, it is vital that you can keep your data safe. Therefore, we recommend using a drive that offers encryption and password protection. Furthermore, many drives include additional software to handle things like periodic, automated backups. So if you plan to use the drive for copying your data, we recommend you go with a drive that comes with backup software. Finally, consider the warranty coverage of one's drive. Most will include a typical 2 year warranty, which is important because all hard drives, regardless of type or brand, potentially have to fail.

portable hard drives

Design

To me, one of the biggest factors in deciding on which drive is the best for you is the physical design of the drive. The reason being after you decide on what speed and size you would like, you’ll find that prices don’t vary an excessive amount of from drive to operate a vehicle and so you might as well choose the one that you think looks the most effective. Some designs will be smaller or lighter than these, some designs may have different colors or textures for your case enclosure, plus some designs will include some kind of shock or drop protection. (The very best of which will be the so-called ‘military spec or grade’ drives, which can typically withstand drops of countless feet with no damage or data loss.) In the end, you should go with a form factor which is most attractive to you because most portable drives will be compact and lightweight.

 

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