External hard disk drives still remain a solid option for many folks simply because it expands the storage capacities of their computers. They also allow users to store, backup, and share files across different computers without having to go online (as compared to cloud storage). Some also feel that they are more secure and cheaper in the long run.
What to Look For?
There are only a few factors that you should keep in mind when you purchase a new external HDD. You should check its performance and storage capacity. These should match your needs, obviously. Other than those, a drive’s data transfer speed and usable features also comes into play. The overall design of the case serves more than just purely aesthetics. You should also look for any available support provided by the manufacturer.
The following are some of the most trusted brands in the portable computer storage industry along with the best products in their current portfolio:
Western Digital is one of the most familiar names in the computer data storage industry. It is also one of the oldest companies in this industry. Their experience is pretty extensive; they started out in April 23, 1970. Back then they were known as General Digital.
They started out as a small company eventually becoming a manufacturer of specialty semiconductors. Today this Irvine, California based company supplies computer storage products to practically every part of the world. The company adopted its current name in 1971.
Western Digital produces some of the most reliable external hard drives in the market today. In fact they provide some of the most cutting edge hard drives available. Another surprising bit about them is that they usually offer products with low cost per gigabyte – they’re not dirt cheap but they give you good quality.
Another good reason why Western Digital is one of the most popular brands today is their customer support. They have a lot of guides, FAQ’s, and troubleshooting tips on their website. Other than that, they also offer email and phone customer support.
Western Digital’s Products
Ø My Passport: Western Digital’s My Passport is considered by many to be the best external hard drive out there. It packs all the positives in the right areas. For instance, the current industry average for transfer speeds is at 4,500+ megabits per second. My Passport has a transfer speed of 5,120 megabits per second – at par with the best.
Speedy data transfer is enabled by its USB 3.0 support. When it comes to performance and features, My Passport leaves most of the competition behind. It comes with smart back up software, security features, file retrieval, and other intuitive proprietary software created by Western Digital. All of that is offered to customers at a very reasonable price – usually lower than the really expensive external hard disk drives in stores today.
The downsides that customers complain about do not concern the drive’s general performance or reliability. The usual complaints include the lack of support for Mac computers and the design of the drive’s plastic casing – which can get smudged and covered with your fingerprints rather easily.
WD Elements: Customers who are primarily after usability without the fancy features – that is, all you want is something where you can use to back-up your data minus the fancy features – then WD Elements is a good option. It comes with full plug and play operations as well as blazing top of the line transfer speeds via USB 3.0.
When it comes to performance it is at par with the current industry average. Expect it to be mostly error free for the first three years of its service life. The complaints that you’ll hear from customers usually include the lack of supporting software as well as encryption capabilities that Western Digital may have provided.
WD Elements come in 500 GB, 750 GB as well as 1 TB configurations. The casing is matte plastic, which is less prone to scratches, smudges, and finger prints.
Transcend produces a few of the most trusted names in the world of portable hard disk drives. It is a Taiwanese company that is based in Taipei, Taiwan. Although this company does not primarily focuses on the production of hard disk drives, they did come up with some leading edge technologies that have carved up a huge market share in the computer data storage industry.
Transcend was founded in 1988, which gives them a lot of industry experience. They’re primarily a computer memory manufacturer, and they produce flash memory cards, graphics cards, USB flash drives, digital media products, and of course, portable hard disk drives. They have actually registered more than 2,000 devices in the company’s product portfolio.
The company offers decent customer support. They have a lot of useful product information that answers the most common customer queries and product concerns. Any driver or piece of software you may need for your hard drive will be available on their website. There is also an online contact form in case customers have other troubleshooting information they need that is not already available on the site.
Ø StoreJet 25M3: The StoreJet 25M3 is the most popular storage product from Transcend. It’s also one of the best external hard drive models in stores today. It is also one of the most reliable units at the moment. It supports USB 3.0, which means that it transfers data at 5,120 megabits per second, currently the fastest data transfer available.
The StoreJet 25M3 is built primarily for one thing – durability. Well, that’s a feature that should be basic to all portable hard drives, right? You carry them around with you a lot; you bring them to work and they can get banged up from time to time. That means the casing should be able to provide enough protection inside and out.
That is what the triple-layer chassis of the StoreJet 25M3 is for. You can say that this may be the best external hard drive if you judge by durability. Other than its tough shell of an exterior (warning: this drive is heavier than most), it also comes with a set of impressive features. It comes with its own proprietary software that helps you easily backup your files. It also provides data encryption to safeguard your data.
Seagate is another popular brand when it comes to hard drives of any sort. The company was founded in 1978 and was then known as Shugart Technology. Both Seagate and Western Digital are pioneering giants in the computer storage industry. Seagate actually dominated the hard disk market back in the 80’s and this company is the one to introduce the very first 5.25 inch hard disk.
They’re very reliable and they also provide good aftersales support. Their website contains plenty of helpful information. They also offer email and voice support (i.e. you can call for tech support in case you need help with your device).
Ø Seagate Backup Plus: This external hard disk drive is a favorite among folks who are not that technically savvy. The user interface that comes with this hard drive is one of the easiest to navigate. The package includes the Seagate Dashboard, which makes backing up files effortless. This drive is as reliable as any of the best external HDD’s out there.
The drawbacks include the slightly shabby design of the drive’s casing. The software suite also doesn’t include any sort of encryption software and Seagate Dashboard only works with Seagate hard drives.
Ø Seagate Expansion Portable Hard Drive: If you’re looking for an affordable alternative then this particular hard drive is a pretty good option without sacrificing quality. It supports both Mac’s and PC’s, and it offers plug and play operation. It’s not the most powerful external hard disk drive today but it has pretty decent performance. It’s your basic backup HDD minus the fancy frills.
Clickfree Automatic Backup
Compared to the previous external hard drive manufacturers already mentioned, Clickfree is relatively new. This HDD manufacturer is based in Ontario, Canada. Their mission, of course, is to provide consumers with easy to use data backup solutions. And that is exactly what you will get from their top rated external hard disk drive.
Ø Clickfree C2: This is the most popular portable hard disk drive introduced by this manufacturer. It is perfect for small business owners who need to backup data from several computers connected via local network. It also provides superb data encryption – note that this encryption is hardware based.
This is actually one of the top products that you will find in many comparative surveys. It is simple, easy to use, lightweight, and fully featured, which makes it very useful for home and business users alike. The company also provides decent customer support, which is an added plus. The drive itself is so small and compact you can hide it inside your shirt pocket.
There are only a few downsides to be aware of. First off, the case isn’t that sturdy – so be careful not to drop it. It doesn’t offer any software based encryption, which may be a problem for some people. It is also slightly more expensive than other drives. Finally, note that they only offer a one year warranty for this hard disk drive.