What size external drive?

A reader asked the Answer Line forum what size external hard drive he should buy for backup.

When people talk about the "size" of a hard drive, they generally mean it's capacity — how many gigabytes of data it holds. But you should also consider its literal, physical size.

External hard drives come in two basic sizes: portable and desktop. Portable drives are light, generally the size of a small whiskey flask, and can be powered by the computer's USB port. Desktop drives are larger, inconvenient to carry, and need separate AC power.

On the other hand, desktop drives tend to be faster, hold more data, and cost less by the gigabyte if not by the drive. For instance, as I write this, $100 can buy you a 500GB portable drive or a 1TB desktop one.

If you want to take the drive with you on the road, go for a portable. If you want to back up massive amounts of hi-def video, you'll want a desktop. Otherwise, weigh the factors and consider your needs. Personally, I prefer portable drives for backup, even if I don't travel with them, because I can hide them after backing up and lesson the likelihood that a burglar will take my PC and my backup.

Now then, about capacity: Go with the drive that holds about 25-percent more than the source drive you'll be backing up from. This will allow you to do a full backup and many incrementals.

See the original discussion at http://forums.pcworld.com/message/232159.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags storage

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lincoln Spector

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?