Staples offers a large selection of external hard drives at guaranteed low prices, including portable hard drives and desktop hard drives, from Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, G-Tech, Lacie, ioSafe and more. To help you determine which product to purchase, below is brief overview of the overall benefits and some distinctive features for consideration to ensure you select the best external hard drive for your needs.
Expanded Storage Capacity: External hard drives provide a convenient and easy way to instantly add large amounts of storage capacity to store your data. As we continue to capture, store and share digital media such as music, photos and videos, data storage capacity requirements continue to grow. When reaching your existing data storage capacity limits, you can simply add an additional external hard drive or upgrade to a higher capacity, making external hard drives ideal for ongoing storage needs. Single drive capacities continue to grow. Staples now offers capacities up to 4TB on single drive external desktop hard drives and up to 2TB on single drive external portable hard drives.
Data Protection & Backup: Our data often represents irreplaceable and priceless ideas, information and life’s precious moments we want to hold on to forever. Every physical hard drive is susceptible to potential hardware failure, in addition to software based threats posed by viruses and operating system crashes. External hard drives provide an ideal solution for protecting and backing up your data, as they provide a secondary physical hard drive on which to store copies of your data. Many external hard drives also provide software that allows a user to establish password protected encryption in addition to allowing configurable fully automated backups of your system and files.
Portability & Mobility: Sometimes you need to take your data with you to share your latest business presentation or enjoy videos of the latest family vacation. External hard drives offer much larger capacities than USB flash drives, so you don’t have to worry about transferring or copying the data you want to take with you. Though all external hard drives can be considered portable, portable external hard drives provide the most convenience as they are offered a more compact physical size and do not require the use of a separate power adapter for operation.
Capacity: Storage capacity is probably the most important consideration when purchasing hard drives, external or any other. It is recommended that you purchase the highest capacity external hard drive that you can afford to ensure you have adequate space for your needs not only today, but also in the future. At a minimum, you should ensure you external hard drive storage capacity is greater than the total capacity of your current computer. This will allow you to effectively backup your entire system to your external hard drive. If you plan on backing up multiple computers, you will also need to factor in space requirements for those devices into your required total storage capacity needs for your external hard drive as well. As a final consideration, you should determine whether or not you intend to use your external hard drive to store data you wish to access on a regular basis. Many backup applications save data in a format that does not allow access to individual files
External Interface: The interface of the external hard drive you need will depend on how you intended to use your device, the data transfer speeds that you desire and compatibility with your computing device. The most common interfaces available in the market today are USB, FireWire and the newly emerging Thunderbolt interface. USB 3.0 is the latest generation of the USB standard and is backward compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.0 interfaces. USB ports are widely available on both PC and Mac based computing hardware. USB 3.0 supports data transfer rates up to 5 Gb/s, while USB 2.0 support rates up to 480 Mb/s. FireWire 800 is the lastest generation of the FireWire standard and is backward compatible with FireWire 400. FireWire ports are typically found on Mac based computers. You can also daisy chain devices, extending cables from one peripheral to the next. FireWire 800 supports data transfer rates up to 800 Mb/s, while FireWire 400 supports up to 400 Mb/s. Thunderbolt represents the latest generation data transfer interface for external peripherals on the market. Thunderbolt parts are widely available on the latest generation Mac laptops and desktops. PC manufacturers have also begun to adopt the thunderbolt standard, and ports are now widely available on most of the latest generation PC desktops and laptops. Thunderbolt is capable of support data transfer rates up to 10 Gb/s, and like FireWire supports daisy chaining multiple external peripherals. Most users will want to choose between USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interfaces, depending on compatibility with your computer.
Form Factor: External hard drives are offered in several different form factors, portable, desktop and RAID arrays. Portable external hard drives come in the most compact physical size and are ideal for laptop based users or users who plan to frequently use data on the go. They also provide a unique feature of being powered over the same cable that supports data transfer, so no additional power adapter is required. Desktop external hard drives are often larger in terms of physical size, though they provide much larger storage capacities than their portable counterparts. Since they require the use of power adapter in addition to the data transfer cable, desktop external hard drives are ideal for large capacity needs where mobility is not as important. Finally, external hard drives are offered in RAID arrays, which mean they provide additional bays for supporting multiple hard drives. RAID arrays can be configured to span storage capacities across multiple physical drives or can be configured to mirror data across multiple physical drives providing an ideal solution for backups in the event of a drive failure.
Software: Basic entry level external hard drives such as WD Elements, Seagate Expansion or Toshiba Basics do not offer any included software that provide features such as automated backup and password based security encryption. This is important to many users, so you should consider purchasing an external hard drive that includes automatic backup software. Provided software is typically very intuitive and helps to simplify the process of backing up or protecting sensitive data.
Wireless Access: There are a few external hard drives available on the market today that provide wireless of WiFi access to your data stored on the drive. These devices are also compatible with mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones and offer feature rich applications for accessing, transfer or streaming data over one or multiple devices.
The best external hard drives on the market today include the WD My Passport, WD My Book and Seagate Backup Plus. Whichever external hard drive you decide to purchase, you can shop with confidence knowing Staples offers a price match guarantee and offers only the best brands available.