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External Hard Drives

An external hard drive is a convenient way to add additional storage space to almost any computer. Drives are simple to connect and use, making them an ideal choice for backing up critical data, transferring files between systems or storing important information in a secure location. Staples carries a variety of external hard drives, including brands such as Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba.

External Hard Drives Combine Convenience and Portability
Most of these storage devices are simple to use and compact enough to carry in a backpack or briefcase. The USB 3.0 connection used by most drives combines fast transfer speeds and plug-and-play compatibility with most desktop and laptop computers. Some drives have built-in wireless connections, so you can share data or media files with portable devices such as tablets or cell phones. Select products offer additional connection options such as eSATA or Thunderbolt that handle unique storage needs.

Once your external drive is connected, it's simple to transfer files using your computer's built-in file management tools. Many of these products include software that automates system backups. Devices with AES encryption store data securely, ensuring sensitive personal or business information remains safe if the drive is lost or stolen. RAID1-enabled models duplicate all stored data across two or more physical drives, keeping data safe in the event of a disk failure.

An External Hard Drive Offers Expansive Storage Space
These products come in a broad range of sizes, from 500GB to 16TB or more, so it's easy to find the best external hard drive to handle the needs of a casual home user or a small business. You can store thousands of pages of business documents or digital photos, an entire music library or hundreds of hours of DVD-quality video on one of these devices.

Do External Hard Drives Work With Windows and Apple Computers?
Almost all external drives work with any desktop or laptop and support both Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X. Many also work with Linux and other operating systems. To ensure compatibility, make sure your computer has the same type of connector as the drive you choose. Some drives are pre-formatted for either Windows or OS X. You may need to reformat the drive, which deletes all stored data, to use it with a different operating system.

How Much External Hard Drive Space Do you Need?
When choosing a storage device, consider how you'll use it and how much data your computer currently holds. A small 1 to 2TB drive is an excellent choice for home users with just a few personal and media files. Audiophiles or photographers may prefer a larger 3 to 4TB drive to handle an extensive digital music or photo collection. Business users may need even more space. The biggest drives, 8TB or more, hold large databases, store data from several users or house multiple copies of critical backup files.

How Fast Are External Hard Drives?
Most of these products use the same disk hardware as internal drives, and USB 3.0 data transfer speeds are comparable to the SATA connections used inside your computer system. Thunderbolt connections are somewhat faster, but not all computers support this option. Some drives offer high-performance RAID0 mode, which splits stored data across two or more physical devices, increasing data access speeds.
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