The cloud is revolutionizing computing on multiple fronts. At the most basic level, it is quickly changing the way we approach data storage. Instead of storing all our data locally, we are increasingly placing files in cloud-based services like Dropbox and Google Drive. It’s not solely a matter of keeping up with the trendy Joneses, either. The ability to save money, preserve space on the local hard drive, and access your files from virtually anywhere are just some of the perks that come with the turf. But while the cloud has proved to be all that and a bag of chips, not even its on-demand goodness can render external hard drives obsolete.
External hard drives are not only useful for storing those documents, videos and post-Hannah Montana Miley Cirus pictures, they’re also handy for backup purposes. Backing up data on one of these drives is usually a simple matter of dragging your files from one folder and dropping them in another — no logging into an app or uploading anything. Some even come with built-in software that will create a mirror image of your entire disk drive. Recovery is also made easier. If a local system crashes for whatever reason, an external hard drive can make restoring it a faster process with little to no hassles.
The Quest for Quality
With options ranging from small four gig flash drives to bigger mechanical drives that store terabytes of data, external hardware literally comes in all shapes and sizes. But no matter the format and how handy they are, these things don’t stick around forever. After scouring around the forums, I found that the average life span of a unit appears to be three to five years. Either most people are incredibly lucky or I’m unlucky because I purchased two and both produced awful results in far less time than that. For a while, those experiences had me thinking external hard drives were just terrible products.
Nothing is eternal, but the better the quality, the more likely you are to get the best out of the product for how ever long it decides to stick around. On that note, keep these critical points in mind when shopping for a drive that lives up to your personal quality standards.
Brand. To say I’m thrifty would be putting it mildly. Whether computer hardware or cultivation projects, I’m trying to save a buck wherever I can. I don’t recommend this approach when shopping for a good drive. A top dollar unit won’t always guarantee the best performance, but going with a brand that has a reputation for high quality is usually the best route to take in this regard.
SSD or HDD. External hard drives generally come in two forms: solid state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives. While SSD drives are known to save and retrieve data considerably faster, they also tend to cost more and lack in the capacity department. So if you have a need to regularly store large amounts of data or have some thriftiness in you, an HDD may be your best bet.
Extended insurance. Most of the major manufacturers offer a warranty that covers you up to a year should their hardware clunk out for no apparent reason. This seems generous enough on the surface, but what happens if the device fails shortly after the warranty expires? You’re toast! Although an extended warranty will cost you a bit more, if you’re anything like me, (the second coming of Schleprock) it could be worth it.
Customer feedback. Checking out reviews and other forms of customer feedback can spare you a lot of heartache. This information is invaluable because it will help you identify any performance or reliability issues that may be associated with particular models or brands. Between all the review sites and discussion forms online, there are more than enough resources at your disposal to make an informed decision.
Even businesses that rely heavily on the cloud understand the importance of having a method that supports storage and backup needs at the local level. A good external drive is the key. While no device is completely fail-safe, you’ll get your money’s worth more often than not when you put an emphasis on quality. Heck, if you’re lucky, you might even get a few years beyond average life expectancy.