In this age of unlimited information availability, small portable hard drives are becoming a necessity for all computer users to manage and store important relevant data. The storage capacity of the current laptop internal drives, as well desktop computers, ranging from 200 Gb to 750 Gb, and are usually not enough to store the various emails, music, photos and videos that current users need for their work, home or recreational activities. There are many manufacturers of external drives, each having their unique characteristics and capabilities. If you are in the market for buying external drives, then the following factors should be considered:
1) Usage: The first step in selecting a portable drive is to figure out how you will use the drive. Do you need to extend the ability of your internal hard drive because you are running out of space? Do you have critical data like tax information, bank accounts that you want to store offline for privacy and security? Do you want to share home made videos, music, and images with your friends without giving them access to your computer? The usage will dictate how much storage you need for current and future use. For example, I have a 500 Gb laptop which I use to create mini-videos and presentations for business as well as for recreation. My Internal drive is 80% full within a year. I would buy a 750 Gb (gigabytes) to 1 Tb (Terabyte) of cheap portable hard drive to meet my data storage needs for another two years. Currently, portable drives are available in 200 Gb to 2 Tb capacity. The capacities increase every year with advances in hard drive technologies.
2) Speed of Access: The speed with which the external drives access and store data depends on the drive connection to the computer. The older computers usually come with USB 2.0 interface which is a slow connection. The current computers usually comes with USB 3 interface (which are compatible with USB 2 drives) with speeds of ten times faster than the USB 2 interfaces. The Fire wire interfaces are very fast and available both for PCs and Macs. Of course there are price differences of the drives with different interfaces. For my video, image and music needs the USB 3 interface fulfills my requirement.
3) Software capabilities: Many small portable hard drives comes with sophisticated software to back up and restore data, and provide password protection of files and folders. Some of these drives can be configured so that the software run in the background backing updates as they occur. This allows for restoration of files with the latest updates. Here if the data is critical for your business, be sure to choose drives that have the backup / restore capacities.
4) Power Source. The best portable hard drives have plug n play capability. The drives are pre-formatted such that, as soon as they are connected to the computer, the drives are ready to receive data without any further installation. Some of the drives require a power source from an outlet while the smaller drives get their power from the USB 2 or USB 3 connection to the computer. Here, if you travel frequently, and power source is not readily available, be sure to pick the drives that do not require an independent power source.
Portable drives comes in various models and sizes with different capacities. Some are pricey while others are quite inexpensive. Most of them come with backup software and the pricier ones have added security and password features to protect the drives. If you take time to review the above factors, then you will be able to buy the right small portable hard drive for your use.