Western Digital Portable Hard Drive - photo by Quy D.

Free guide to the different types of external hard drives.

Thinking of buying an external hard drive?

External hard drives are great for backing up data, photos, videos, music, etc – or just providing extra space to keep all your media.

Read our free guide to the different types of external hard drives available to buy.


Desktop External Hard Drives

Desktop external hard drives usually sit in the same place, in a home office or desk set-up.

Desktop external drives can come in a variety of sizes and with various interfaces including USB, e-SATA and firewire.

Desktop external hard drives are usually SATA based hard disks, but you can pay extra to get an SSD (Solid State Drive) model for increased speed.

Make sure you get USB 2.0 at the very least in terms of connectivity. Ideally it would be good to get better than this, depending on the connectivity options on your laptop or similar.

Desktop or Portable External Hard Drive?

Desktop external hard drives provide the best value in terms of storage for your money.

However if you are on the go a lot, or think you may be putting the hard drive under the regular stress of travel, you may want to think about a more portable alternative.

Portable Hard Drives

Portable hard drives can be either SSD or disk based.

Some portable external hard drives are more rugged/destruction proof than others, whereas some just look really beautiful.

Portable hard drives may not always be as fast as desktop alternatives, but look out for an SSD drive and find one with good connectivity and you may still achieve good speeds.

Encrypted / Secure Portable Hard Drives

Some users look for portable hard drives with extra security. There are various manufacturers and specialist websites providing encrypted / secure portable hard drives.

This means that if found, it would be near impossible for anyone to access the contents of the hard drive.

Good if you want to feel like James Bond.


Really cool video that looks at some of the latest portable hard drives and what you will want to look out for.

Click here to read our guide to different types of hard drives.

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