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It doesn’t take long for your computer to fill up, so an external drive can provide the extra space needed to help store all of your digital content.

With the increase in the number of cloud-based storage solutions now available in today’s market, we wanted to discuss how an external hard drive still has several beneficial uses.

Before we start to consider the reasons as to why you need to make use of this storage solution in modern computing, carry on reading to understand what the role of the external hard drive does and what the difference is between an internal and external drive.

What is an external hard drive?

Although external hard drives are available in varying storage capacities, they all connect to a computer just as the name suggests – externally.

To put it simply, an external hard drive, also known as a portable hard drive, is a device that is connected to the outside of a computer through a USB connection that is often used to back up computers or serve as a portable storage solution.

What is the difference between an internal drive and an external drive?

The main difference between an internal and external drive is ultimately down to location. An external hard drive is a device which is plugged into your machine to give almost-immediate storage space, without the need to open your computers internal storage and make upgrades. External drives are portable storage devices typically used to store data such as photos, videos, and documents.

Whereas internal hard drives, on the other hand, are needed for all computers to operate as operating systems and important software are usually pre-installed on them. Although it is possible to remove the internal drive to replace it, it is easier for users to invest in a portable external hard drive to increase the capacity on their laptop or computer.

The main thing to remember is that an internal drive is built-in to your computer, whereas external drives are not.

Why do I need an external hard drive? 

External hard drives are transferable, easy-to-use devices that can provide instant storage whenever you need to access it. Using an external hard drive is as simple as just plugging one end of the cable into your computer and the other end into the drive.

The best advantage of owning an external drive is that they are extremely portable – they can be connected to numerous computers and allow you to carry a large amount of storage with you regardless of your location.

So do you find yourself running out of storage space on your laptop? Or perhaps you are wanting to back up important data? Then it’s worth considering investing in an external hard drive. From data backups to portability, we have highlighted several reasons as to why you might need one:

Data Backups:

Having an external hard drive will allow you to back up any of the data that you have on your computer or laptop. An accident could happen at any time, whether that includes you accidentally dropping your laptop during your commute to work, a power surge that can blow a fuse, a spilt drink, or a computer malfunction, there are loads of things that could happen to your computer when you least expect it. So it’s beneficial to update any data you have to avoid losing anything important. 

Even though you will be able to back up most of your stuff via the cloud, there are numerous drawbacks to doing this, including possible monthly costs and data caps. 

Data Rights:

When you back up all of the data on your computer onto an external hard drive, then you will always retain ownership of these photos, documents, and videos.

A lot of people are going to think that this is still the case when they use services like Google Drive, however, when reading the fine print you will realise that this is not always the case. When you upload all of this information into the servers, the company who owns the cloud service will be able to use your data in a variety of different ways for whatever reasons they want to. Of course, Google will not be able to take your vacation photos and claim them as their own but they can use them for other purposes – all because you agreed to it when you decided to use their services.

Offline:

With an external drive, you have much more portability and access to everything on your computer even if you are not online. This is because the size of the external hard drives are a lot smaller than they used to be.

Therefore, you have the ability to throw them inside your backpack and take them with you no matter where you are travelling. Ultimately, if you are away from the internet for a long period of time, you will still have access to all of the things that are stored on your computer. This is a big advantage when you are taking a vacation in a foreign country because the Wi-Fi connection might not be as strong. As long as you have the external hard drive with you, then you will be able to have access to all of the data that might be located on your computer, no matter where you are. 

Security: 

If you use an external hard drive, your files will be much safer than relying on cloud-based services.

It’s important to think about all of the risks that are present when accessing your data via cloud storage on a public computer. Different spyware, keyloggers, and malware might be running in the background or even your browsing history and cookies can be stored on a public computer. Additionally, depending on where you are, there is a risk that people could be shoulder surfing so that they can look at your computer screen, or perhaps even you might forget to log out of your personal account. 

With the increase in the number of people using the internet, comes the increase of online hackers. Any time you store data on the internet, you are prone to cyber-attacks. Although most cloud providers have strong security measures, hackers now use sophisticated technology to hack into your account, so it’s important to be careful as to what data you store online.

Costs: 

It is less costly to have an external hard drive, as you won’t have to worry about any monthly fees for more storage on the cloud. Most of the time, in order to store more data or documents on the cloud, you are required to pay more money for more storage. It is a lot most cost-effective for you to buy an external hard drive. In fact, because people are not using them as much, the costs are dropping all of the time.

Even though the initial payout might seem expensive, at least you don’t have to worry about a recurring fee with an external hard drive.

Reliability: 

An external hard drive will be a lot more reliable than cloud storage. What if you need access to your files before a big meeting but the cloud provider is having problems with their website? Unfortunately, this means that trying to access your personal files is out of your hands. Giving responsibility for your data to online services is a major downside to using the cloud.

There are several things that you might be relying on the cloud storage for, like a vital presentation for work, a hotel booking, or the business workflow for your company. If you don’t have access to these things when you need them the most, then it can cause a lot of problems for you. This is especially true when your company is counting on you to do something for them but you don’t have access to the files that you need. You don’t have to worry about any of these problems happening to your external hard drive. Essentially, all that you will have to do is to plug the external drive into the computer that you are using and your data will be at your fingertips.

External hard drive next to laptop | Photo: Ibrahim Rifath via Unsplash

External hard drive next to laptop | Photo: Ibrahim Rifath via Unsplash

Looking for the best external hard drive? Then head to our website now to view our full range of storage solutions. 

Author Bio: Kevin Gardner graduated with a BS in Computer Science and an MBA from UCLA. He works as a business consultant for BusinessTechSolutions where he helps companies integrate technology to improve performance. He shares his knowledge and expertise not only with his clients but with his fellow bloggers and readers. 

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