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What is an External Hard Drive?

What is an External Hard Drive?

An external hard drive is a great external storage space that can be used as a backup drive and to keep sensitive documents in a safe and protected environment.
Techspirited Staff
A computer hard drive is that part of the computer where the data is stored. At least one hard drive is needed for every computer in order to store various computer programs such as the operating system, various application programs, as well as any other data that the user generates. Usually, the computer hard drive is located internally. However, the evolution of the computer system, with an increase in the needs and threats, as well as changes in circumstances, has given rise to the need for external hard drives.

An external hard drive is put in its own enclosure case, which is then placed outside the main computer, on the table top near it. The enclosure case, which is portable, is a little larger than the hard drive it contains, and sometimes is even equipped with a cooling fan. This external storage device can also be used as a backup drive, apart from being a means of storing all sorts of information and files. A high-speed interface cable is used to connect the device to the computer. Data can be passed to and from the drive and the main computer through the interface cable. Firewire and USB are the interface cables that are most commonly used.

The Need

When computers are used to access the Internet, they are constantly exposed to security threats in the form of spyware, viruses, and Trojans. Although antivirus programs and firewalls have been devised to deal with these threats, they are often not foolproof against them. Apart from threats from the net, since PCs are often used by multiple users, such as all the members of the family at home, there are high chances of sensitive documents being inadvertently corrupted or lost. Also, with the advent of multimedia applications like DVD burning, streaming video, photo files, and MP3s, which take up a lot of hard drive space, the requirement for extra storage space has increased phenomenally. All of these factors taken together have given rise to the requirement of an external storage component, namely the external hard drive.

The Uses And Advantages
  • An external hard drive is a very useful device. Users can store or backup important files and information separately from the computer's internal main hard drive, since there are chances of them being compromised by offline or online usage. It can be used as a safe and secure storage space to store a backup of all the contents of the main hard drive of the computer, that include disk images, movies, DVD images, large sized music files, and sensitive documents. When the user connects to the Internet, the external drive can be turned off, which is why the data stored in it safe from being affected by Trojans, spyware, and viruses.
  • Some of the other advantages are that it can be operated as a plug-and-play device that it is portable. Any computer that has Firewire or USB capability will be able to recognize that the hard drive is a storage device, and designate it by assigning it a letter. The user can then access it like a usual internal hard drive.
  • It can also be used to transfer large sized files to and from the workplace and home, or from the PC to the laptop, or anywhere else. All that is required is for the interface cable to be plugged in, resulting in the reconstruction of a working environment, leading to the virtual portability of all the user's favorite programs.
In case there are a number of family members using a single computer system, it is advisable to use a hard drive to store sensitive documents like financial information. Hence, when you do use your computer, you can access all your programs and data by plugging in the device. After you are done, it just needs to be unplugged and kept in a secure location.

There are innumerable reasons for using an external hard drive. In fact, you can even use a number of such drives, swapping them in and out of the same enclosure case, using one for work, one as backup, one for the image files, one for storing multimedia files, and so forth.