Look after your digital files! The right drives and storage will set you up for success. In this guide we take you through the different types of storage, and which one is best for you.
Key factors to keep in mind:
Capacity - Do you take high quality photos and videos that will take up a lot of space, or are you storing word documents and excel spreadsheets? The bigger the individual file, the more capacity you will need to store your files.
Speed - The speed you need files to transfer depends on the internal technology of the drive and the connection between the computer and the drive.
Accessibility - Will you need to access files on the go, or are you wanting to backup important files? Considering how and when you will use the drive will impact which drive you buy.
Mac or Windows - ensure the drive or storage you buy can be used on your device. If a drive is designed for a specific operating system it will say on the box. If you are unsure, ask someone in store to guide you in the right direction.
Sometimes a combination of drives is the solution to ensure that you get the most of your devices. Below we go more in depth to different storage solutions and which one could best suit you.
External hard drives are convenient for easily expanding and storing extra files without tampering with the hardware built into your computer or device. It also makes file transferring between computers and other devices quick and simple while offering the added benefit of having a back-up solution for important files, all for a relatively good price.
- Easy to move files between devices
- Large storage solution for relatively cheap
- No setup required - just unbox and use
- Small enough to transport around
When choosing your external hard drive, you’ll need to choose between a desktop external hard drive or a portable solution. Depending on the use of your hard drive will depend on which one is best for you.
Desktop external hard drives
Desktop external hard drives require a power supply and an interface cable to be able to transfer files. These types of drives are a good solution for those who require supplementary storage and don’t mind waiting to get home or back to the office to transfer files. Automatic back-up software is included on some models, allowing you to continue working without needing to manually back-up files.
Portable hard drives
Portable hard drives do not need an external power supply and use the interface cable to draw power to run. These types of drives are smaller than their desktop counterparts and are lighter, making them easy to travel with. This means all your files will be on hand when you need them, delivering a more flexible storage option for those who need the capabilities to store and transfer on the go.
Network Attached Storage (NAS) or Personal Cloud
For small businesses or offices that are using multiple devices, a Network Attached Storage (NAS) or Personal Cloud storage system may be the best option. The desktop hard drive in this case connects to a network which allows you to access and share files as long as you are connected to the same network. In addition, many NAS drives feature automatic data-syncing and back-up technologies, giving you peace of mind that all your files are safe against data-loss.
While these external hard drives vary in capacity, generally desktop hard drives and NAS storage will have larger capacity options available for purchase.
Your hard drive’s interface determines what port it can connect to - which affects transmission speed between your computer or other device. Interface options include:
USB - the most common interface type, you can get these ports in USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1. USB 3.1 is built with the newest technology and delivers data transfer speeds up to a massive 10 Gbps (gigabits per second) through a USB Type-C connector, doubling the capabilities of a USB 3.0. USB 3.1 is compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports (at their respective speeds).
Wi-Fi - uses a wireless network to transfer and share files between devices that are connected to the same network.
The traditional hard disk drive (HDD) is the original hard drive, and holds everything from the operating system and software to all images, files, documents, and videos.
Solid state drive (SSD or SS Drive) use microchips to store data, meaning they are flash-based and have no moving parts. This results in a quieter, lighter, and cooler drive that can significantly improve overall system performance - giving you faster boot up times, application launches, and file saving capabilities.
SSDs can be internal or external drives and are designed for speed more than capacity, so expect to pay a premium if you need a larger storage space.
- Speeding up processes and data management
- Smaller than external drives, making them even easier to transport
- Option to buy internal or external depending on your preference
USB - a common connection type for SSDs that connect with the device externally. Most commonly these SSDs come in USB 3.0 or higher, delivering a fast data transfer speed and newer technology.
SATA - this type of connection is commonly found in SSDs that connect with the device internally. Also called Serial ATA, this connection type delivers very fast data transfer speeds.
Slot-based - slot-based connections give the device an expansion on their existing memory. A good compromise between internal and externally housed, this connection type does not need installation but is carried inside the device, reducing the risk of forgetting to take it when on the go.
microSD (Secure Digital) is a type of removable flash memory card used for storing information. Most commonly used for smaller devices such as cameras, mobile phones, and tablets, the microSD card offers an easy, affordable way to expand your device’s onboard memory. Available from 16GB to 256GB, microSD cards give you the additional storage you need to store your photos, videos, and files.
Most microSD cards come with an SD adapter so you can insert them into your larger devices such as laptops and TVs, and have durable designs to withstand dropping, water, and extreme temperatures.
microSD cards also come in classes (2,4, 6, 10, and UHD Speed Class 1 and 3), which act like generations and tell you how fast you can expect data to be read and transferred. Some devices require a minimum class to operate at the expected standard. Today, class 10 is expected for most action cameras to capture HD continuous burst still photos and Full HD video recording.
- Great for smaller devices
- Expanding your devices existing memory
- Storing large files
- Durable design
USB Flash Drives
The ultimate portable drive is arguably the USB, giving the owner a convenient method of taking files on the go and being able to connect easily to a wide range of devices - all while fitting in your wallet.
Most USBs feature a 2.0 or 3.0 port, but newer ones with 3.1 and the USB Type-C interface is also common, enabling the user to transfer data at 10 Gbps (gigabits per second), x2 faster than a USB 3.0.
In terms of capacity, most USBs range from 16GB up to 128GB so there will be a size to meet your needs.
Type-A - the most common USB port type in computers, with the familiar flat rectangle approximately 1cm wide.
Type-C - tiny, reversible, and universal. At about a third of the size of Type-A, it’s small enough to become the most common port in coming years due to its adaptability in laptops, phones, tablets, and more. Bonus - there is no wrong way to plug it in!
micro-USB - typically found in small devices such as mobile phones and tablets.
- Smallest of the storage solutions
- Sped and capacity capabilities comparable with other solutions