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By Jamie Irwin | August 28, 2019

How to Pick the Right External Hard Drive for Personal and Office Use?

In the age of advancing technology, storing all your data on your laptop is not a smart move. Not only is there a high risk of losing important files by accident but also of experiencing shortage of space. Hard drives come to your rescue in this scenario. It is important to know the difference between Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD) before we proceed. SSD’s go one step ahead of HDD’s as they use flash memory instead of spinning metal disks. They are also faster in performance, use less power, last longer and are more expensive than HDD’s. So if a cheap hard drive with lots of storage space is what you need, then opt for a traditional hard disk drive. But if you need to access your stored files regularly, then consider buying a solid state drive.

Solid State Drive

Let’s dive into the list of factors that you need to keep in mind while buying an external hard drive for personal and office use

  • Storage Capacity- Hard drives have a maximum capacity of 16TB. Domestic use of hard drives involves transferring photos and files frequently. For this purpose, a 2TB memory space can be optimum but expensive. If you’re looking for a hard drive which does not cost a bomb, choose a 64GB hard drive which will cost less than 20$.
  • Security- If you need to protect the data stored on your hard drive, it is advisable to encrypt it. This is usually possible with the software encryption available on most drives. But if you want to level-up your security, look for a drive with hardware encryption. Besides, many drives come with physical security systems which have pin codes that provide tight security to your files. Also check whether your hard drive has a protective outer casing or not.
  • Transfer Speeds- For your hard drive to be able to transfer data quickly, it must possess a higher RPM (revolutions per minute). In terms of storage technology, SSD’s transfer data quickly but are more expensive than HDD’s. In terms of connectors, a redundant USB 2.0 is slow and should not be used if you’re transferring files that are larger in size. USB 3.0 gives speed up to 5 Gbps and USB 3.1 gives speed up to 10 Gbps. Due to its high transfer speed, it can easily access heavy video editing websites like viddyoze video editor
  • Portability - You don’t need a portable hard drive if you want to keep it at home. But if you’re always on the go, opt for a hard drive that is light, compact and small. Choose a model that does not require an external power cable. 
  • Price- When it comes to price, an external hard drive should cost 10-15% more than a similar sized internal hard drive. On the lowest range of price spectrum, a 1TB hard drive can cost as less as 35$. If you want to splurge a little, choose a 4TB hard drive that will cost you around 100$.
  • Access times- The time taken after you connect a hard drive to your laptop and before the drive is ready to transfer data is called access time. Hard drives with similar RPM’s can have different access times. Nowadays, most hard drives have access times that are quite similar. For SSD’s, you need to know the sequential/sustained read and write speeds which should be within SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) connector’s maximum speed.
  • Cache space- Hard drive cache or disk buffer is an area of embedded memory that a hard disk uses when transferring data from one area of the drive to another. With a larger cache, data can be transferred faster which means more information can be stored at a specific time. Hard disk drives these days have cache sizes ranging from 8MB-25MB.
  • Failure rate- Annualized failure rates are determined by the average time taken by most drives to malfunction which are produced by a single manufacturer. This does not guarantee the failure rate of an individual model. Some hard drives fail within a year while others last for more than five years. On the whole, SSD’s tend to last longer having an Annualized Failure Rate (AFR) less than a HDD.


Our top 4 picks for you-

Samsung Portable SSD T5

Samsung Portable SSD T5 has made travelling with your data easier with its highly portable DDD T5. The model has 2TB of storage which is sufficient for personal use. Along with this, it has a USB-C port. With its super sleek design which is less than half an inch thick, T5 weighs just 51 grams. It comes with a 3 year warranty and costs less than 200$.

WD Black by Western Digital

With an amazing storage capacity of 6TB, WD Black is our favorite hard drive under 100$. It also features a 2X DRAM cache upto 256MB and comes with a 5 year warranty. This model is light on your pocket and will take your PC experience to the next level.

WD My Passport Ultra

Great for using at home and highly economical, WD My Passport Ultra has a 2TB storage capacity. Additionally, it is compatible with USB 3.0 and is formatted for Windows 10.

CalDigit Tuff

Proving true to its name, CalDigit Tuff comes with a IP57 certification and can be submerged in 3.28 meters of water upto 30 minutes. In addition, it is also dust and shock resistant. With a transfer speed upto 130MB/s, this model is compatible with USB-C port. It also has USB-A ports, thanks to the additional cable provided. Priced under 200$, CalDigit Tuff is one of our favorite picks that can store upto 2TB of data.


We hope our guide to buying an economical and efficient hard drive was helpful to you. Although there are a lot of factors that come into play, we suggest you to look for an economical price as well as a storage space that suits your needs.

Once you’ve decided on these, you’re ready to go shopping for the best hard drive.

Happy buying!