Not only are hard drives cheaper than SSDs, they also offer more capacity. For example, a 4TB HDD and a 1TB SSD will end up costing you about the same, so you can see that you get more for your money.
What this means is, if you’re on a tight budget but need a lot of space, then you’ll be better off getting one of the best hard drives 2021 has to offer. And before you say anything: Yes, we know that SSDs have higher speeds and are more durable – but hard drives provide reliability, and are perfect for retrieving, saving and protecting all your important documents. If you buy yourself a hard drive, it doesn’t mean you’re heading back to the stone-age as far as tech goes. There are lots of outstanding hard drives on the market, produced by all the leading brands such as Toshiba, Seagate, LaCie and more.
Whether you’re looking for an external hard drive than can accompany you on your travels, or a hard drive to upgrade your gaming PC, we’re going to introduce you to a selection of the best hard drives available – both internal and external. The great news is that you’ll probably save enough money buying one, to contribute to your next!
Hard drives explained:
What Does a Hard Drive Do?
Well, the hard drive stores all of your digital content. That means everything from your photos, documents, app preferences and operating system – these are all stored on a hard drive.
Everything stored on a hard drive is measured in terms of its file size. In basic terms, documents (text) are generally very small whereas pictures are large, music is even larger, and videos are the largest. A hard drive determines the size of digital files in terms of megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB).
What Is the Best Hard Drive Size?
Well, if you simply need to transfer a limited number of files between a computer and a backup drive, a smaller drive (Expansion Drive or Backup Plus) will work. If you want to back up your entire computer or several computers – or if you have lots of video and audio files – you should definitely go for a larger drive (Backup Plus Desktop Drive).
How much can you store on a hard drive?
This is the bit you really need to know if you’re not an experienced computer person! A 1TB drive can store between 250 and 500 hours of HD programming and an 8TB drive can store as much as 4000 hours – which equals 166 days worth of TV! That’s a massive amount, and so if you have 10 TB, that’s even more stuff to watch!
PC or Mac?
Although some drives are pre-formatted to work with either a PC or a Mac, any drive can be reformatted to work with either type of computer.
Is Hard Drive Speed Important?
Spin speed (rotations per minute, or RPM) is relatively important. The faster a disk (platter) spins, the faster your computer can find the file you want, which makes sense.
A 7,200 RPM hard drive is obviously faster than a 5,400 RPM hard drive. But with external drives, you’ll hardly notice a difference between the two RPM speeds. The same applies for internal drives. However, you’ll definitely experience an improvement on a 7,200 RPM hard drive with larger files and applications.
Should I Choose an Internal or External Drive?
Like most things, it will depend on your situation. Upgrading your computer’s internal hard drive provides built-in storage for all of your files. An external hard drive gives you portable storage which you can take with you, wherever you go.
The Need for Data Backup
If your computer’s hard drive becomes damaged, you could lose all of your digital content. That’s why most people back up their content on an external drive, in addition to their computer’s internal drive.
What exactly is an external hard drive?
An external hard drive sits outside the main computer tower in its own case. Take a look at the photographs of external hard drives which accompany this blog. This external hard drive is slightly larger than the internal hard drive itself, and it sometimes contains a cooling fan. The external hard drive is connected to the computer via an interface cable, which allows the external hard drive to communicate with the computer so that data can be passed between the two.
What are the advantages?
A portable or external hard drive allows the user to back up or store important information separate from the main internal hard drive, which could become compromised, damaged or corrupted. Sensitive documents, large music files, movies, images and other backup files can be kept securely and safely on an external hard drive. Another advantage of an external hard drive is that it’s portable and operates on a plug-and-play basis so that other compatible computers can recognise the drive as a storage device and can be used to access the files.
Right, that should have given you enough information to think about! But what about the actual products themselves? We’ve selected three of the best internal hard drives, and three of the best external hard drives which do the job and represent great value for money…
A selection of the best internal hard drives at a glance
Seagate BarraCuda 3TB Desktop Hard Drive 3.5″ 5400RPM 256MB Cache
Give your computer a storage or performance boost with this Seagate BarraCuda 3TB hard drive. The 3TB capacity offers ample space for storing content, while the multi-tier caching technology optimises read and write times for fast and responsive performance. This internal hard disk drive works with home servers, desktop computers and all-in-one PC systems for added versatility. A small form factor and simple design allow for easy installation, so you can give your system a quick but powerful upgrade. Advanced power modes help reduce energy consumption and extend the life of your computer. Featuring fast transfer rates, this Seagate BarraCuda 3TB hard drive makes it simple to save and access files without the need for an external hard drive.
• Desktop or all-in-one PCs.
• Home servers.
• Entry-level direct-attached storage devices (DAS).
Toshiba X300 4TB SATA 6Gb/ s Hard Drive
High Storage Density and Capacity
High-precision head positioning supported by advanced format technology (physical 4KB sector) and dual stage actuators, provide impressive high storage density and capacity.
Adoption of a tied spindle motor stabilises the motor drive-shaft at both ends to curb system-induced vibration. The interior plotter is also stabilized, raising performance on the strength of the enhanced designated sector-tracking system during reading and writing operations.
Seagate IronWolf 4TB NAS Hard Drive 3.5″ SATA III 6GB’s 5900RPM 64MB Cache
Power through uploads and downloads using this Seagate IronWolf 4TB NAS hard drive. The 3.5-inch form factor fit smoothly into most NAS, rack-mount and desktop systems, delivering always-on 24/7 performance, and it can handle multi-bay storage efficiently so that you can optimise your RAID setup for data back-ups. A generous 4TB of hard drive space provides plenty of room for large data files and even videos, while the SATA III interface lets you upload and download large data volumes rapidly. This Seagate IronWolf 4TB NAS hard drive has an MTBF of 1 million hours to ensure complete reliability.
Best external hard drives include:
Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Red Portable Hard Drive
Small enough for a loaded laptop bag, spacious enough for loads of content – Seagate Backup Plus Slim portable drive is the perfect marriage of easy portability and truly useful file storage. Easily plug into Windows and Mac computers via USB 3.0, and enjoy helpful tools like customised backup and folder mirroring.
- Textured metal finish fits in with modern lifestyle elements.
- Compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0
- Powered by USB connection – offers customised backup and folder mirroring.
- Drop files into the designated folder for automatic file synchronisation.
- Works with Windows and Mac without the need to reformat
Seagate Basics 1TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive
Seagate Basic pairs delivers simple drag-and-drop back-up in a lightweight, compact design. The result? Up to 5TB of extra storage for your computer in a portable hard drive that’s perfect for life on the go.
Whether you want to free up hard drive space on your Windows computer or simply back up files so that you’ve got a second copy, Seagate Basic makes it ridiculously easy – just drag and drop! With up to 5TB of capacity, there’s plenty of room for your growing collection of files.
Lightweight, compact, and totally portable, Seagate Basic is designed so that you can take loads of files with you wherever you go. Just slip the USB 3.0 external hard drive in your bag, head out, and connect to your computer via the included cable.
When it comes to backup for Windows, Seagate Basic gets straight to the point. You don’t need to worry about installing software or anything else. It’s ready to go, out of the box. To use with Macs, simply reformat.
LaCie 4 TB Rugged Mini USB 3.1 (USB-C + USB 3.0) Portable 2.5 Inch Shock, Drop and Crush
The LaCie Rugged USB-C portable drive marries rugged durability with cutting-edge USB-C. The result is a vault for your data that is compatible with next-gen computers like the Apple Macbook, as well as USB computers. Featuring the markets high storage capacity for its size, the LaCie Rugged USB-C gives you enough space to store. Massive capacity lets you use the LaCie Rugged as a shuttle drive to transport footage from set to post-production or to store a huge lightroom library. With resistance to drops, crush, rain and unauthorised access, the LaCie Rugged USB-C is tough enough for extreme conditional from a sudden rainstorm to a crush of suitcases in an airplane cargo hold. Minimum System Requirements: Operating system: USB-C: Latest version of Windows 7 and later / Mac OS X 10.5 and later.