How does an external hard drive work?

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How does an external hard drive work?

Are you afraid of losing all your data in case of computerdamage? Do you want to share your files fast with another computer? Or you have used up all your space on your computer and running out of space soon? With an external hard drive, you do not have to worry about facing one or all of these problems. 

An external hard drive is a portable storage device. It is used to back up your important files, data and multimedia content. For instance, you can store data for back up, or you can use the external hard drive as secondary storage for your computer. Additionally, you can also use external hard drives to share and transport data from one computer to another. 

External hard drives are available in various sizes and shapes,plus they come in different space capacities. If you have ever encountered data loss problem, you know how frustrating it is to lose all your data in the result of computer damage. Externalhard drives enable you to store data separately from your primary computer storage, which is not only low cost but also very convenient. You can also clone the computer’s hard drive to the external hard drive.

External hard drives are typically connected to computers through a USB cable, FireWire connection or a wireless connection. In almost all Windows and Mac computers and laptops, backing up your files is very easy with an external hard drive.

Computers and laptops have several USB ports, and most external hard drives come with a USB connector. You need to plug in your drive into your computer or laptop USB port.

After your external hard drive is plugged in, your computer will automatically ask what you want to do with the drive. However, even if the message does not pop up automatically, go to your files, and you will see the name of your drive. From there, you can save anything you want in your external hard drives.  

If you want to free up space in your primary computer, you can delete the files in your computer after saving them on your external hard drives. Or you can also move directly from your computer to your drive. Furthermore, you can also leave the files on your computer after saving them on the external hard drive. 

It is vital to have a backup copy of your essential files on an external hard drive. Thereby, you should back it up regularly and stay up-to-date. In case of a hard drive failure, you can also get the external hard drive from the inside of the enclosure, install it into your computer, and boot up. Your computer will start working immediately.

External drives come in two types: hard drives (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD). Hard drive store data on a spinning platter that are read and written by magnetic head moves, while SSD uses flash memory chip to save data. Most SSDs are faster in speed compare to a typical hard drive, and offer at least twice the speed of a hard drive. SSD is also more durable as it does not have a spinning pattern. 

You should also make sure to check what type of connector your computer support while buying an external hard drive. These days, the standard rectangular connector on your commuter is type A. However, some USB cables come with a connector USB type C. Your devices might support USB type C; a samephysical interface that thunderbolt 3 uses, but on a USB cable speed.

Nowadays, fireproof and waterproof external hard drives are also available, something to keep in mind if you live in a flood zone area. 

How to choose an external hard drive? 

There are many things to consider while buying an external hard drive. You want to buy the perfect drive for your particular need. Only what you want to use your hard drive can determine the type and size of your drive.

Following are some of the things you need to know before buying an external drive.

Space: External hard drives come in different storage capacity; however, many of them are already more than 1TB. If you want backing up your computer, you should get an external hard drive twice the capacity of your current internal hard drive. 

If you need the drive just for transferring documents and photos from one device to the other, you do not need a lot of storage space, you can get 64 GB, it is way cheaper, and you can buy one in less than $20. Moreover, if you need to store videos, it is recommended to have 1TB or 2TB drive. 

To summarize, if you need more space, the portable hard drive can be a cheap option as it offers 3 or 4 cents per GB while the least expensive SDD comes at 20 cents per GB. An SSD stickexternal hard drive comes in up to 4 TB, a portable hard drives tops in up-to 5TB, and the desktop style hard drive come in the sizes of 12 TB for one drive model, and 24 TB for duel drive model. 

Compatibility: Make sure you buy an external drive that is compatible with your computer or laptop. There are different types of drives for PC and Mac. 

Size: You know better if you need a small portable drive or a desktop solution. If you travel and want to take your external hard drive with you, then you need a portable drive that can fit in your bag. 

Some portable drives use SSD to save space and increase durability. Portable drives which use hard drive inside are a little larger, but they still can fit in a purse or pocket. Also, you do not need to plug portable drive separately; they get their power from computer interface cable which you connect them to.

Meanwhile, if you want to keep your external hard drive at home as backup storage, you do not have to worry about portability and small size. Then a desktop-style external hard drive is the best option. The desktop external hard drives have one or more spinning hard drive inside and require their power cable. Most desktop drives have 3.5 inches hard drive, and they come in the capacity of up to 12 TB, which is great for back up computer hard drive.  

Speed: One more thing to keep in mind while buying an external hard drive is the transfer speed. You need to look for the type of storage technology and the connector for a faster speed.

Typically, solid-state drives (SSD) are faster and more expensive than HDD but have less storage capacity.

Most drives today use a USB interface, and here are some of the USBs to choose from. 

USB 2.0 is an old standard USB, and it is the slowest. 

USB 3.0 is faster than 2.0 in speed (up to 5Gbps).

USB 3.1 is the most common, and it offers up to 10Gbps transfer speeds. 

The newer laptops or computer devices support Thunderbolt 3 and have the fastest connection (up to 40Gbps). Recent Apple devices have thunderbolt 3 interfaces, but it is less common in windows. 

To conclude, no one external hard drive is perfect for everyone; it all depends on your particular need. You now know how the external hard drive works. Do you want the maximum storage or the highest speed? How much are you willing to pay and how you are planning to use it?

Plus what type of USB cable your computer or laptop support.These are some essential information to have if you want to know how to use an external hard drive. I hope it is easier to make a choice now that you have all the required information. 

Now that you know all about external hard drives, you can go and buy yourself some storage.

Related questions 

Can I turn an Internal Hard Drive into an External Drive?

Yes, you can turn an internal hard drive into an external hard drive. External hard drives are the same as internal hard drives, only placed in an enclosure. 

If you have an extra internal hard drive at home, you can insertyour internal hard drive into a hard drive enclosure. They are compatible with both IDE interface and a SATA interface. Nowadays, it is more likely that you need a SATA drive, but if you have an older hard drive, you might have an IDE interface (also known as PATA connection).

Buying enclosure is quite simple; nevertheless, you should pick an enclosure which matches your hard drive’s interface and size. Now that you have the same size enclosure, your hard drive will fit perfectly in it. Place the hard drive into the enclosure, and fasten the clips or the screws.

After that, connect it to your computer using a standard USB connection. Connect all the cables, which typically consists of a power source and SATA connection. Hard drives have either 80-wire connections or 40-wire connection, make sure you connect with the wire connection that matches.

Now connect the other connections; they are straightforward and have one place you can match and plug them in. Furthermore, it is either a 3.5″ holder; then you will probably need external power (that is included). Or a 2.5″ holder that will only need the USB connection. 

Now you have an external hard drive ready to use.

Can I store and play games on an external hard drive?

Yes, and while you can use any HDD or solid-state drive with a modern gaming PC. It is vital to have a high-speed driver for the best result, and an SSD drive will work best for this.Additionally, the external hard drive is essential to save your extended game library.

Last but not least, you can also make a suitable external hard drive by inserting an internal hard drive in an external hard drive enclosure outside your PC case. Buy an enclosure that is compatible with your drive. Furthermore, make sure to check the connection you want to get with the enclosure. For the faster SSD, there are typically USB 3.0 / 3.1 or USB-C.

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