If there is one thing I ask for during the holidays, its a new hard drive. Either I ask for a specific one or I save the money I get from family and buy myself one or two depending on how much I want to spend on myself. Its getting to the point where I have a pretty decent collection Ive hoarded over the years. In fact, I still use the first flash drive I ever bought to this day. It is a 512MB USB 2.0 flash drive that I bought at Best Buy for $45. Yes I said $45 for a 512MB (not gigabyte) flash drive. However, I am really impressed it has lasted me this long and so it has become sentimental to me. I would like this article to help explain how hard drives work and what the differences and capabilities are for each kind.
Words like megabyte, gigabyte, flash drive, solid state, and thunderbolt may seem confusing to some but are absolutely essential in order to know exactly what the capabilities of your hard drives are. For instance, if you check out our list of LaCie hard drives on our website, we give you a brief breakdown of the differences of each one but you must know the terminology if you want to get the right one for you. You don’t want to go to a car dealership and buy a compact sports car if you have a family of 5, and you don’t want to buy an unreliable junker if you need a car to last for 300,000 miles (don’t worry you will get the references soon enough). If you are new to buying hard drives a good start would be to know what you plan to put on them and what you are going to be doing with them. Are you planning to be transferring files frequently between multiple places? Then something that is fast, durable, and portable would suit your needs. Are you planning on storing large files over an extended period of time? Then you would want a reliable large drive with less risk of crashing. So needless to say, not all hard drives are created equal…
1. Desktop, mobile, or flash?
Desktop hard drives are more bulky and usually come with their own power supply. You will find that most desktop drives come with more outputs than the others. For instance a lot of our D2 Quadras have USB 3.0, ESATA, and Firewire connections but we will get more into that in the next section. Typically, you would want a desktop hard drive for a workstation where you won’t be moving it around from place to place. But if you do plan to be traveling with a hard drive then you are looking for something in the mobile category. Mobile hard drives are very popular nowadays because data is never stored in one place anymore. Mobile hard drives boast a compact lightweight design and are pretty darn durable for the most part. For instance our Lacie Rugged series is drop resistant, shock resistant, and waterproof! So you can bet if you accidentally drop one on your way in to work that you will still be able to use it. Having a drop resistant mobile drive is essential in my opinion, especially when you are storing important data. Lastly there are flash drives, and everyone has used one of these in their lifetime. They are smaller than mobile drives, can fit on a key-chain or in your pocket and still carry blazing speeds. They are limited in capacity and come in all shapes and sizes. Most TVs, laptops, computers, DVD players, and other media devices have available inputs for flash drive readability.
2. Speed and Connection
The speed and connection of a hard drive is a crucial part of the decision process. One of the more popular connections for both Mac and PC and the one with a good amount of speed and reliability is USB 3.0. Most newer devices will read the speed of USB 3.0 and if they don’t you can still use the same connection as the device will read the connection as standard USB 2.0. The thunderbolt series of connections are as fast as it gets nowadays with speeds blazing as fast as 20GB/sec (Thunderbolt 2.0) however, thunderbolt is for Mac users only.
Capacity is probably the main aspect you care about if you know what you want in the first two sections. Prices have dropped dramatically in recent years as the capacity for hard drives have increased, this is a great thing. For HD video storage, you want something at least 500GB, for music/photos and other media anything you can range from 8GB and up depending on what you have. Note that just because a hard drive says 500GB it does not allow you actually put 500GB of data on it, hard drives have to account for their own software setup and internal processes that need to use part of the hard drive’s capacity in order to work properly. So if a hard drive says 500GB just be aware that you may only be able to store 480GB or so on the drive. Be sure to take this into account if you need to fill it up to capacity.