In today's high-definition world, storage is a primary concern for all computer users, be it an average home user, or a professional graphic designer or video editor. High-definition content takes up a lot of space, and these days even 1TB of hard disk space is considered little. Unfortunately, incorporating high-capacity hard disks in machines proves to be too expensive, and truth be told, there are not so many people who would like to pay premium prices for a computer that offers huge storage space. The solution for this comes in the form of external hard drives, where people who require more space can opt for these drives, while people who are happy with the paltry 500GB are not scared off by the high prices of machines with higher storage capacities.
External hard drives comes in various capacities, ranging from 160GB to mammoth 12TB drives. While the reviews can help you decide which one to opt for, there are various factors that need to kept in mind before you actually buy one. The interface that the drive uses to connect is very important, and if you opt for a high-capacity drive, a drive that supports the latest USB 3.0 or FireWire 800 interface is way better than one that supports USB 2.0 and FireWire 400. The top 10 best external hard drives are those that offer high-capacity with the latest interface, and are not exorbitantly expensive. Given in the list below are some of the best external drives in the market today, with a few of their features and their approximate prices.
Top 10 External Hard Drives
Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II 6TB
Offering a mammoth capacity of 6TB, the Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II is the perfect drive for those who need high-capacity storage expansion. Whether it is a backup drive, or just to store your huge HD collection, this 6TB drive performs admirably. It is priced somewhere around the $500 mark, making it an extremely affordable drive for the storage capacity offered. However, there are a couple of downsides to the drive as well, the most notable being that it works only with Western Digital drives. Lack of USB 3.0 is another downside, but if you are looking for huge capacity, this drive is well worth considering at this price point.
Seagate 4TB GoFlex Desk
Seagate is well-known in the market for its stellar hard drives, and the GoFlex Desk is no exception. With a huge 4TB of space, this drive will no doubt suit all your requirements. The drive works with both Windows and Mac OS, and supports USB 3.0. It is slightly expensive at somewhere around the $250 mark, but the USB 3.0 support and the 4TB size make it worthwhile. The GoFlex comes in two parts, the drive and the adapter, and it can be used either with the adapter or without. The adapter can also be used on other drives, making it easy for those who use multiple drives. At $250 (approx) for 4TB, it beats the Western Digital by a fair bit, making it a good solution for those who need the space.
G-Technology G-RAID 4TB Dual External Hard Drive
Another 4TB hard disk, this time from G-Technology, but designed to work in RAID configurations. The G-Technology G-RAID 4TB Dual External Hard Drive is the perfect drive for people working in video editing and professional content creation, and comes ready to use on the Mac operating system. The drive supports USB 2.0 and eSATA, in addition to FireWire 800, and comes with all cables included. The drive is more for professional users rather than the average home user, but at $500 or thereabouts, it is the perfect drive if you are looking to back up your video collection. It comes with a 3 year warranty and free tech support.
LaCie 2big Quadra 2TB
The LaCie 2big Quadra is a 2TB drive that is designed keeping professionals in mind. High speed and large capacity is what makes this drive one of the best in the market. It supports eSATA, USB 2.0, FireWire 800, and FireWire 400. The LaCie 2big Quadra features a two-bay enclosure that offers RAID support for better performance and redundancy. It also comes with customized software that allows you to back up documents emails etc., at the touch of a button, on both Mac and Windows operating systems. The 2TB version is priced somewhere in the range of $375, making it a good option if you are looking to keep all your files super safe.
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable 1.5TB
Another drive from Seagate, this time in the 1.5 TB capacity range. The GoFlex Ultra-portable is just exactly what it says, ultra-portable. It has features similar to Seagate's family of drives, and comes with support for USB 3.0 as well. The connectivity options are similar to the GoFlex series, and this drive comes with the removable adapter as well, allowing multiple types of connections to be supported. For people who tend to use drives on different machines, the Seagate GoFlex Ultra-portable is a highly recommended. The Ultra-portable drive costs about $180.
Western Digital Passport Portable 1TB
The Western Digital Passport Portable 1TB is another super small portable drive, and has a capacity of 1TB. It supports USB 3.0, making it one of the faster portable drives around, but unlike the GoFlex series, there is no support for any other connectivity options. It comes with a software that automatically backs up your data, and supports a password protection feature as well, giving you a high degree of privacy. The drive is compatible with both Windows and Mac Operating systems and is priced at around $175.
If you have important data to keep secure, then the IOSAFE SoloPro is the hard drive you want. The company claims that the drive will protect data from a 1550-degree Fahrenheit fire for half an hour or from being sunk in 10 feet of fresh or saltwater for three days. This fireproof and waterproof hard drive comes in capacities ranging from 1TB to 3TB and supports USB 3.0 in addition to USB 2.0. The drive works on the Mac and Windows operating systems as well. The 3TB drive is slightly expensive at roughly around $550, but for a drive that's fireproof and waterproof, it is well worth the money.
Iomega External SSD Flash Drive USB 3.0
SSD flash drives are the newest technology in the market, and are much faster and perform much better than conventional hard drives. Unfortunately, they are also much more expensive when compared to conventional hard drives, and as such, have not yet become mainstream. The Iomega External SSD Flash Drive comes in 3 capacities, and supports USB 3.0 for blazingly fast speeds. In fact, the drives claim to be twice as fast as a conventional hard drive utilizing the USB 3.0 interface. The 256GB hard drive costs about $750, making it very expensive, but this is the best you can get in terms of performance.
OCZ Enyo USB 3.0 Portable Solid State Drive
The OCZ Enyo USB 3.0 portable solid state drive is another external drive that offers superior speeds and top-notch performance. Supporting USB 3.0, the drive has read/write speeds well in excess of 200MB/s, making it about ten times faster than USB 2.0 speeds. The drive looks super sleek, and is designed with extreme portability in mind. It comes in capacities of 64GB, 128GB and 256GB, and is a very good buy for people who need the additional speed, for instance gamers and those who want to stream video. At around $300 for the 128GB and $700 for the 256GB drive, the OCZ Enyo is expensive, but is well worth the price considering the portability and performance it offers.
G-DRIVE mini SSD
The G-DRIVE mini SSD is another 256GB solid state drive. Coming in a sleek design, the drive supports the newer FireWire 800 interface, as well as the older USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 interface. The G-DRIVE mini SSD comes with all cables included in the box, and can be used on both, the Windows and Mac operating systems. The drive is a perfect expansion solution for your laptop and comes with a 3-year factory warranty. Unfortunately, it is the most expensive of the lot, priced at well over $1200 for the 256GB model.
As you can see from the list above, gone are the days when 500GB was considered enough. Hard drives today come in capacities as high as 12TB, and 1TB is considered the norm. As technology progresses, solid state drives are going to become mainstream, much like how SATA drives took over from their IDE counterparts. If you read any of the external hard drive reviews, almost all focus on the speed and performance of the drive, and SSDs are the best at the moment.
When you are buying a drive, the most important thing you need to consider is what you are going to use it for. If you need the performance of SSDs then perhaps their high price is justified, but if you are an average user just looking for backup solutions, then a normal high-capacity drive will serve you better.