2 minute read

Cheap External Hard Drives - Cheap External Hard Drives: Today’s Most Important Computer Accessory

cheap external hard drive

In today’s world of 1080p HD video, lossless audio and 16 megapixel raw DSLR images, it is impossible to have too much hard drive space. Competing against this, though, is the fact that most users are either unable to unwilling to open up their computer to add additional storage. Luckily, external hard drives are not only readily available but downright cheap today.

For most casual computer users, a cheap external hard drive will be perfectly adequate. Many cheap drives are made by well respected manufacturers using the same mechanisms that they sell to computer manufacturers and to hobbyists.

Users should bear in mind, though, that these units entail a few compromises. They will typically be physically larger than a more expensive unit and will usually also feature a “wall-wart” external power supply. Their cases are frequently utilitarian in appearance and made out of low-grade plastic. Because of this, these drives are typically not appropriate for frequent travel.

Cheap external hard drives will also usually use a lower-end hard drive mechanism and controller. This may compromise performance a little bit, but since lower end drives typically connect via USB, the performance of the interface is typically slower than that of the drive. Another tradeoff with a less expensive drive mechanism is that it will frequently have a lower MTBF (mean time between failures) rating. Since a low-end MTBF rating of 700,000 hours would mean that an average drive would last over seventy-nine years, though, their quality should be more than adequate.

The pricing spread between a cheap and expensive external hard drive can be quite significant. As an example, a well-known online computer retailer currently offers two different one terabyte drives from the same manufacturer. Both connect via USB 2.0, but one costs approximately eighty dollars and the other costs approximately one hundred and fifty dollars. The more expensive one added automatic backup functionality and an additional year of warranty coverage. Given the small increase in features for the almost doubling in price, one can see how strong a value a cheap external hard drive is today.

Of course, it is possible to purchase an external hard drive that is too cheap. Given the small pricing difference between cheap name-brand drives and cheap off-brand drives, one should avoid the lowest cost drives unless one can be sure that the low cost drive uses a mechanism from a reputable manufacturer. If one is planning to travel with a drive, a good quality notebook-grade external hard drive would be a better choice. These drives are still relatively affordable, although they have significantly less capacity.

Quite possibly the biggest benefit of today’s cheap external hard drive prices is that most users can afford two of them so that one can serve as a backup device. That way, if the drive connected to the computer fails, a ready-to-use backup is just a 30 second cable change away. The peace of mind afforded by this scheme is, for many users, priceless.

Additional topics

Business ManagementSmall Business Resources