Buying external storage

Storage for our files is always a concern when we’re buying computers. There are various routes you can go down. You could replace the storage in your machine, or you could look at some kind of external storage device. Those digital photos, music collections and downloaded films have to live somewhere. In this blog, we’ll look at things to consider when buying external storage.

Why you need one?

Leaving your content and files on your computer without backing any of it up is not a good idea. It slows your computer down and you run the risk of losing everything if you have a hard drive failure.

Types of drive

There are two main types of drive available. These types are Solid State Drives (SSD)and Hard Disk Drives(HDD).  SSDs have no moving parts and are faster at reading and writing data than HDDs. SSDs are far more expensive for the same capacity when compared to HDDs. The chances of an SSD failure are far lower than a HDD.


External drives are available in various capacities. I have recently seen drives with capacities as low as 100GB but I’ve also seen them have capacities of up to 8TB. External storage has fallen in price recently (apart from SSDs) so 1TB or 2TB is relatively affordable.


When talking about speed for drives we mean how long it takes to read and write data to and from them. The main connectors available are USB 2.0, USB 3.0, eSATA and Firewire. Firewire is an older format found on older Macs and some PCs. USB 2.0 is the current standard. Thunderbolt is a newer Apple format, but I have seen very few drives that use this format.

These are the maximum theoretical data transfer rates for each type of connector:

  • USB 1.1 = 1.5 MB/s
  • Firefire 400 = 50 MB/s
  • USB 2.0 = 60 MB/s
  • FireWire 800 = 100 MB/s
  • USB 3.0 = 625 MB/s
  • USB 3.1 = 1.21 GB/s
  • eSATA = 750 MB/s
  • Thunderbolt = 1.25 GB/s × 2 (2 channels)
  • Thunderbolt 2 = 2.5 GB/s
  • Thunderbolt 3 = 5 GB/s

These speeds are indicative but should give you an idea of data transfer rates. The higher the speed, the faster you can transfer files

When it comes down to it, you’ll find it is far cheaper to buy external storage and backup than it’ll be to try to get data recovered when the worst happens, and even then, there is no guarantee that that will work.