How much should you spend on external hard drives?

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Standard hard drive storage just isn’t enough these days – with more and more of us using laptops to work remotely, and taking thousands of photos on our smart phones, external hard drives are becoming vital to move large digital files from place-to-place, or use to back up important date or priceless photos.

Even if you buy a to-of-the-range laptop, you’ll most likely find that storage space has been sacrificed for greater performance and portability – which is great for those times you have to cart your hardware around, but not so great when it comes to downloading images, movies, music, apps or any large files.

That’s where external hard drives come in handy – but how much storage do you need? And how much can you reasonably expect to pay?

Why do you need an external hard drive?

There are a number of reasons why storing files solely on your computer’s hard drive is a bad idea, but the two main issues are that you’ll lose everything if anything happens to your hardware, and using up all that storage space will significantly slow down your system.

What types of drives are available?

There are two main types of external hard drives on the market – hard disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD).

HDDs are often the cheaper option, and should be able to do the trick so long as they’re handled with care, but SSDs are far sturdier and usually faster, but this durability and speed usually means they cost a lot more to buy.

When working out how much you should pay for your hard drive, you should also factor in size and security. If you just need to back-up or move basic spreadsheet or word-processing documents, then you shouldn’t need any more than 300GB, but if you regularly download games, music or movies, or have a big back-catalogue to back up, you should look for storage of anything up to 2TB.

As for security, if you need to store any sensitive data, it’s worth getting an encrypted hard drive that offers full disk encryption, with PIN authentication, and is immune to key-loggers and brute force attacks. And it’s always worth considering a drive that offers automatic backup or file retrieval, just in case the worst should actually happen.

How much should you pay for a portable hard drive?

So, now you know what you need, how much should you pay?

If it’s a budget drive you’re after, you can pick up a small, reliable and speedy Seagate Backup Plus Slim for £54 at Amazon, while the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC comes in at a slightly more expensive £63, but offers NFC security encryption, meaning it uses a near field communication device such as your smartphone to unlock.

Mid-range models, such as the Adata SD700 External SSD and the Samsung T3, offer up to 1TB of storage and fast transfer speeds for around £170.

If you need some serious storage space though, the G-Tech G-Drive starts at £253 and offers up to 8TB of storage, while the WD MyBook Pro starts at £545 for 6TB of storage, and goes up to £1,180 for the 16TB model.