Desktop External Hard Drive Review

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Why You Need a Desktop External Hard Drive

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 and movies now fits on memory cards and hard drives. 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. These desktop hard drives are built to hold up to 4TB of data.

Desktop external hard drives differ from portable hard drives because they are built to be more sturdy, they need to be plugged into a power outlet with an AC power cord and they can have greater storage capacities. In our research, we have compiled a lineup of the fastest, highest quality devices. The find the best hard drives, look at our reviews of the Western Digital My Book Essential, Seagate Backup Plus and Toshiba Canvio Desk. In addition, check out our articles on desktop external hard drives for more information.

Desktop External Hard Drives: What to Look For

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.

Performance
Remember when 25GB seemed like a ton of storage space? So do we. 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 for PCs now offer up to 4TB of storage and transfer data incredibly quickly using the latest USB 3.0 interface technology.

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 set-up process.

Security
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. Additionally, built-in diagnostics and hardware encryption are 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.

Design may also have a hand in your decision process, but we believe that performance, security and ease of use are the most important aspects to consider when you look for a desktop external hard drive. Research carefully and cautiously, but when you find the best desktop hard drive, go for it. Delaying backing up your digital content is not a luxury you can afford.

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Electronics » Computers » Desktop External Hard Drive Review
2014
BEST
Desktop External Hard Drive Review
Product Comparisons
Side-By-Side Comparisons
Showing 1-10 of 12
Ratings
Compare our ratings for Desktop External Hard Drive Review

Overall Rating

Performance

Ease of Use

Security

9.63
9.13
9.00
8.82
8.60
8.00
7.98
7.53
7.33
6.85
9.50
9.50
9.38
9.50
8.75
8.75
8.13
6.25
7.50
5.00
9.50
9.38
8.75
9.00
8.75
7.50
8.13
9.00
8.75
8.50
10.00
8.13
8.75
7.50
8.13
7.50
7.50
7.50
5.00
7.50
Compare Product Features
We do the research so you don't have to.
Performance
USB Interface
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
2.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
Maximum Transfer Speed
5Gbps
5Gbps
5Gbps
5Gbps
5Gbps
480MBps
5Gbps
5Gbps
5Gbps
5Gbps
Minimum Storage Capacity
1TB
1TB
1TB
2TB
1TB
1TB
2TB
2TB
2TB
1TB
LED Indicators
Multiple Devices
Sleep Mode
Ease of Use
Usability Score (%)
95
90
80
85
80
75
75
85
80
75
Customize Backup
Scheduled Backup
Restore Backed Up Files
Plug and Play
Preloaded Software
Online Support
On/Off Switch
Security
Warranty (years)
2
2
3
2
7
3
3
2
2
2
Automatic Backup
Hardware Encryption
Password Secured
Built-In Diagnostics
Security Slot
Design
Color
Black
Black
Black
Black
Black
Black
Black
Silver
Silver
Black
Weight
2.6 lbs
2.4 lbs
2.2 lbs
2.2 lbs
2.2 lbs
2.3 lbs
1 lb
2.2 lbs
1.9 lbs
2.1 lbs
Length
5.3 in
6.2 in
6.6 in
8 in
7.5 in
6.7 in
8.1 in
7.5 in
6.8 in
7.5 in
Width
6.5 in
4.9 in
5.1 in
5 in
4.6 in
6 in
4.6 in
4.7 in
4.4 in
4.8 in
Depth
1.9 in
1.7 in
1.6 in
1.8 in
1.9 in
1.7 in
1.3 in
1.5 in
1.2 in
1.5 in
Horizontal
Vertical
System Requirements
Windows 8
Windows 7
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Mac