Purchase guide for external and internal hard drives for PC and Mac

External hard drive

Purchase guide for external and internal hard drives

They say that knowledge does not take place, but the truth is that when it comes to storing files on a hard drive , this popular phrase is not fulfilled. Saving data, be it photos, movies or documents takes up space and, if we want to keep them over time, we will need a storage unit.

There are many ways to store but one of the best options is to resort and buy external hard drives . Whether desktop, portable or multimedia, are relatively small devices where we can store all kinds of data without worrying about losing them because the computer crashes and also allows us to move easily from one side to another. Although not for that we must forget the internal hard drives.

Within this market there are many options to choose from, so knowing which hard drive suits us according to our needs is fundamental. To facilitate this task we have created this purchase guide with the keys that you have to take into account when buying one of these devices, because, as you will see below, we are looking at something more than units to store data.

Storage type: mechanical hard drive or solid memory SSD

Today, the predominant format in portable hard drives has been the mechanical disks , which for decades were the main form of storage in modern computing. This type of hard drives are cheaper and have a good data transmission speed. The problem is that having mechanical parts, if the device receives a blow can break and become unusable, although the casings are already prepared for this type of accident. In their favor they also have a greater storage capacity.

On the other hand, we have SSDs or solid state drives. A format that is currently used mainly as an internal unit and where some manufacturers such as Samsung are already betting heavily. This type of hard drives stands out for having no mechanical parts so they are less susceptible to breakage. In addition, they are quieter and much faster when transmitting data, so they are ideal for use as a boot unit. The problem is that today they do not offer a storage capacity similar to mechanical disks and their price is higher.

Storage space: from 500 GB to 2 TB

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As for the storage capacity, we could apply the axiom of “the bigger the better” but we would be wrong. It is good to know what we are going to use our hard drive for and if we really need so much space. Are we going to store data like photographs or movies permanently? Then we need a 1TB or 2 TB device. Are we going to move data from one site to another as if it were a kind of pendrive? Maybe a slightly smaller disk of 500 GB or more will suit us.

Anyway, the technology advances very fast, and the files grow in size as they increase in quality. Today it may look like a 2 TB disc (or 3 TB or more), but we think that we will always use them completely. And while we do not do it, making them “strategic” partitions helps to rationalize the space.

Many of us are already familiar with computer jargon and we know how much a GB is, but do we know how much TB is? For those who do not know, remember that we are talking about a TeraByte, or what is the same, 1000 GB . That is to say: more than 250,000 songs in good quality, more than 300 episodes of our favorite series … Therefore, if we are going to store archives as if it were a library, we might want a capacity of this magnitude. If we are going to move data, delete it and re-copy others, surely it is better for us to have something smaller.

Multimedia capabilities: playback of videos and content on the network

When they appeared the first external hard drives were conceived as a mere additional storage unit for computers. However, some manufacturers have been able to go beyond this idea and have introduced multimedia capabilities so that, installed on a monitor or television, we can play music, series or movies .

If we look for a hard drive to use it for this purpose, we should look at two things. On the one hand the compatibility: what type of files it opens, what video codecs it supports … In general, most are quite versatile and some already include compatibility with formats like mkv, focused on high definition video. On the other hand it is good to know what type of connection it has: HDMI, VGA, Components, etc. We have to make sure that the hard drive and the screens where we are going to connect them are compatible.

What is the difference between connecting via HDMI and VGA? Fundamentally, the image quality. While the VGA uses an analog connection, the HDMI is digital and therefore the quality of the signal much higher. With HDMI we can see files in high definition (720p, 1080i and 1080p) without any problem. On the other hand, if we are going to connect a hard disk to a CRT TV, a VGA connection may be more convenient for us.

Some hard drives have decided to go a little further and, in addition to offering these multimedia capabilities, they encourage and introduce the Internet to turn our TV into a kind of Smart TV , or offer us the possibility of recording files of the DTT or the service of cable that we have contracted. If we are only going to use our hard drive to store files and these options do not appeal to us, it is better that we forget about this small multimedia sector.

External power or direct connection via USB

Another point where it is convenient to fix is ​​in the power supply. On the one hand we have hard drives that come with an external source . That is, one more device on the table … and another connector on the plug. The good thing about this type of models is that they generally offer greater capacity and their price is somewhat cheaper.

On the other hand we have hard drives that are powered exclusively by USB . They have the advantage that they are more comfortable to use and therefore also easy to transport. The drawback is that they are a bit more expensive compared to the previous ones if we look for a similar storage capacity.

Therefore, if we are not going to move the hard disk much and we do not mind having an external power supply connected, the first ones are what we are looking for. On the other hand, if we are going to move that unit a lot and we do not mind sacrificing a bit of space, the best thing is a hard disk powered by USB.

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Connectivity: USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Firewire

The speed at which we transmit our files is an important issue. Most users will have more than enough with the data relationship offered by USB 2.0 but possibly the most gourmets and, of course, professionals will look for faster options such as Firewire or USB 3.0.

Of course, we will have to make sure that we have a connector of these characteristics in our computer . It’s worthless for us, for example, to have a 3.0 hard drive if we only have 2.0 where we are going to connect it.

If instead we want to forget the cables, some manufacturers offer hard drives with Wi-Fi connectivity , with which we can transmit files through our local wireless network. Something very useful if we want to use this unit in several computers in the same home and we do not want to change it.