The world around us has gone digital. We no longer need storage cabinets full of paper files or to wait a week or even an hour to have pictures developed. Everything from music to scrapbooks to movies now fits on memory cards and external hard disks. While personal computers are built to last for a few years, they are not fail-safe devices and, in the worst possible scenario, they can crash, and you could lose thousands of family pictures or important business files if you don't have external backups.
Protecting important documents is exactly why there is such a big market for desktop external hard drives. Now, you have the ability to back up every file on your computer to a safe drive that will last longer than your computer. Desktop external hard drives are built to last for a long time and usually have lengthy warranties. You can also hook one up to a compatible wireless router and use it to stream media.
Desktop external hard drives differ from portable hard drives because they are built to be sturdier. They have their own power supplies and must be plugged into an outlet to function. In our research, we have compiled a lineup of the best desktop external hard drives. To find the best external hard drives, look at our reviews of the Western Digital My Book, Toshiba Canvio Desk and Buffalo DriveStation Axis Velocity. Check out our articles on desktop external hard drives for more information.
Once you've reached the point where you need a desktop external hard drive with at least 1TB of storage space, you're a bona fide digital-content connoisseur. Make sure the hard drive you choose to hold copies of your precious content meets a certain quality standard by following the specifications we've outlined.
Ease of Use
We find the idea of entrusting your most sensitive documents and data to a device you don't know how to use worrying. What's the use of securing your documents if even you can't access them? Hence, ease of use should be a huge factor in your purchasing decision. Look for a desktop external hard drive that has a customizable backup option, the ability to retrieve backed-up files and online technical support.
Be wary of taking the term "plug and play" at face value. Many desktop external hard drives boast plug-and-play connectivity but include software you must use to access many of the drive's security features. Our suggestion is to look for a good balance between security-based backup software and a quick initial setup process.
Remember when 25GB seemed like a ton of storage space? Now, with downloadable movies, high-resolution images and PC gaming permeating everyday life, our data storage needs have skyrocketed. Some of the best external hard drives now offer up to 6TB of storage and make use of USB 3.0 for much faster data transfer speeds than older external hard drives.
When you're in the business of securing data and files, an external hard drive's security features can make or break the product. Look for the ability to secure the hard drive with a password and for automatic backup settings. Built-in diagnostics and hardware encryption are also must-have features. One of the biggest risks of purchasing such a portable piece of equipment is the ease with which someone could walk off with it. The best USB external hard drives feature a security slot that allows you to physically bind the hard drive in place. Removal of the lock without the designated key would cause damage to the exterior of the hard drive.
It's always important that you have several communication lines with manufacturers in case something goes wrong. Easy access to manuals, FAQs and other helpful materials makes troubleshooting a little less stressful. You should also look for products with a strong warranty. You want your desktop external hard drive to last for a long time, and if a manufacturer won't cover it under warranty for very long, well, that doesn't inspire much confidence in the device's longevity.
There are many different things to consider when you want to buy an external hard drive, but when you find the best desktop external hard drive for you, go for it. Delaying backing up your digital content is not a luxury you can afford.