An external hard drive, as its name suggests, is a portable Solid State Drive (SSD) or Hard Disc Drive (HDD) that connects to your computer via a cable or wireless connection so you can transfer files, programs, videos, photos, and other personal data from one device to the other.
Because of their portability, most — if not all — current external hard drives are sheathed in a sturdy, durable casing to protect the drive from impact and outside elements.
Of course, due to their large form factor and sensitivity to impact, HDDs often come encased in a bigger, bulkier housing than their compact counterpart, the SSD.
Are you still confused about what distinguishes one type of hard drive from the other? Our comprehensive SSD vs. HDD guide explains the differences between the two drives so you know what to look for when making your next purchase.
A big selling point of any external drive, be it an HDD or SSD, is the drive’s storage capacity, which also affects the price. Generally, HDDs charge less per Gigabyte than SSDs, making them the de facto drive of choice for many end users.
However, as Flash technology becomes more and more prevalent, the gaping price disparity between the drives will become narrower.
Is there a difference between ‘portable’ and ‘external’ drives?
There is a distinction between ‘portable’ and ‘external’ drives, but given the fact that both types of drives are peripheral devices that can easily be carried from one location to another, end users often get them confused.
Traditional external hard drives — also called desktop hard drives — use a 3.5″ drive, which basically means they deliver faster transfer speeds and are better suited for your home PC.
The narrower 2.5″ drives are not quite as robust or bulky, making them more ideal for laptop users; they also draw their power from your device via the USB cable.
Because both drives are independent from your internal drive, the terms ‘portable’ and ‘external’ have become more or less interchangeable.
Nevertheless, if you are looking into buying an external storage device, you should look into the drive’s specs to make sure you are getting exactly what you want.
Why Would You Use an External Hard Drive?
External hard drives have three main functions:
- They backup your data
- They simplify file sharing
- They free up space on your computer
While external drives certainly have other functions (like cloning and imaging your internal drive), the items listed above are the most typical and common. In case you’re not familiar with these functions, we discuss each one in depth.
#1. Data Backups
If your computer were to crash today, would you lose all of your files, videos, and photos? If you don’t already have a backup of that precious data, then yes. That’s why it’s crucial to have multiple backups of your data, and that’s exactly why you would use an external hard drive.
With or without an internet connection (depending on the model), data stored on your external drive is immediately accessible. By performing regular backups of your device, you can stow away your most cherished data — and easily recover it if your host device gives up on you.
#2. Flexible File Sharing
Another very practical use of external hard drives is their flexible file sharing capabilities. Say you are collaborating with a client or partner on a freelance project. You will probably, at some point, want to share important files with each other.
Well, external hard drives streamline the process of exchanging files from one device to another. You simply connect the external drive to the desired device and import whatever you need.
#3. Free Up Computer Space
Lastly, external storage devices free up space on your computer’s internal drive. Think of it as a storage unit where you place all of those extra boxes sitting in your garage to create more space. Once you’ve cleared away the clutter, you realize how much you needed the room.
You will also notice that you are more efficient and organized with the extra space. Your computer is very similar: Not only will an external drive give you more storage space, it will also improve the overall performance of your computer.
What Kind of External Hard Drive Is Right for You?
So, you’ve come to the conclusion that you need an external hard drive.
But what kind of drive do you need?
No matter what you’re looking for, be it tried-and-true durability, spacious capacity, or exceptional speed and functionality, Silicon Power has an external drive that’s right for you.
Let’s take a look at some examples of different use cases so you can get an idea of what you should be looking for.
1. The Adventurous Traveler
You’re the type that frequently traverses rugged terrain, be it month long excursions in tropical rain forests, extensive hikes through the mountains, or scuba diving in the tropics.
Wherever the destination, one thing is certain: you need a reliable, sturdy external hard drive that can endure the elements. If this sounds like you, then you should consider Silicon Power’s Armor A65 External Hard Drive.
Military drop tested, this external HDD is dust proof and can withstand water submersion for up to 30 minutes at depths of up to one meter. The smooth leather exterior makes it easy to hold, and its custom encryption software ensures your photos, videos, and files are stored safely.
2. The On-the-Go Professional
No stranger to the 9-to-5 work grind, your days are busy and bookended by hectic commutes. For a professional like yourself, the gaps in your schedule are prime time to be productive, so you need a fast, responsive external drive that’s light and easy to transport.
In this case, the Bolt B80 Portable SSD Drive is the perfect on-the-go solution. Compact and sleek, the Bolt B80 comes with a Type-C cable, enabling it to connect with any current device so you can bring your work with you and maximize your productivity.
3. The Passionate Photographer
As a photographer, you’ll go any length to capture perfect moments that resonate with an audience. For you, that might mean hiking a summit to capture a sunset, camping in the wilderness to photograph wildlife, or even finding the perfect angle for a wedding shoot.
To keep your work safe and sound, you need an external drive that’s sturdy and reliable. The Armor A85 Portable Hard Drive is the drive for you, as it offers up to 5TB of space and a triple layered exterior casing to protect your data from impact or harsh elements. With its three year warranty, you won’t be needing another drive any time soon.
4. The Tech Wizard
As a tech enthusiast, you need a drive that is equal parts durable, capacious, and functional. The 5TB Armor A60 External Hard Drive brings you the peak performance you expect out of a hard drive. With its backward compatible, USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface, it delivers incredible read/write speeds so you can juggle demanding files and applications with ease.
5. The Home Studio User
For end users that need an external drive to house large files and programs, be it family videos, extensive photo albums, PC games, or music and audio files, a large external drive with lots of space is a necessity. If this sounds like you, then you need the Diamond D05 External Hard Drive.
With a metallic-grained casing and up to 2TB of space, this external drive is ideal for both backups and storage alike. With its backwards compatible, USB Gen 3.1 interface, the Diamond D05 is fast, reliable, and will store your files safely for the long haul.
While this use case list certainly isn’t comprehensive, it still gives you a good idea of what kind of Silicon Power products can help you with your day to day storage needs. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below.