This guide provides guidance on selecting a drive for backing up your computer. Different drive models and designs are reviewed.
Drive Selection Guide
As explained in more detail below, it is generally best to use an external solid state drive for backing up your computer. So, this is a list of possible drives to consider. Prices vary depending on current sales, so a range is provided. The pricing here reflects 1TB of storage. Larger storage capacity will be more expensive.
- INEXPENSIVE — Inexpensive solid state drives can work adequately for some people’s needs. These can transfer data at a rate of 540 megabytes per second (Mb/s or Mbps). A good example is the Samsung T5 drive with 1TB storage for about $120 to $130. [View]
- FAST — Slightly more expensive solid state drives can provide you with more speed. Up to 1,050 megabytes per second is possible. A good example is the Samsung T7 with 1TB storage for about $130 to $170. [View]
- RUGGED FAST — Some drives offer a more rugged design and also the fast 1,050 Mbps speed. A good example is the SanDisk Extreme drive with 1TB storage for about $130 to $250. [View]
- RUGGED VERY FAST — A very fast drive can transfer data about 2,000 megabytes per second. A good example is the SanDisk Extreme Pro drive with 1TB storage for about $210 to $310. [View]
As you can see from the price ranges shown above, the sales prices can provide a savings of $50 to $100 off the normal price. Amazon shows the current price and sometimes a retail price for comparison. A service like CamelCamelCamel.com can help you monitor price fluctuations and alert you of price drops.
Solid State Drives for Backup
Using a solid state drive for backing up your computer should provide a faster and more reliable backup. While any electronic device can wear out over time, a backup drive typically is not used interactively on a regular basis. It gets written to over time, and infrequently (or never) gets read from. So, the read/write activity is minimal. This makes the solid state drive ideally suited for the task.
An older technology mechanical hard drive has a spinning platter and it could be susceptible to damage from a fall. Mechanical drives are also slower, so backups take longer. They may heat up with the continuous use of a large initial backup, and any time consuming backups of big files. Mechanical drives use more energy which can be a concern for a laptop computer if running on battery power.
Choosing a Cheaper Backup Drive
As mentioned above, there are many reasons to avoid using a mechanical hard drive. Perhaps the only reason to consider choosing an older-style mechanical drive would be cost savings and greater storage capacity for big projects like videos.
Here are some mechanical drives to consider. Note that these drives have 2TB storage capacities.
- SEAGATE — Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable. Cost $60 to $63. [View]
- TOSHIBA — Toshiba Canvio Basics 2TB Portable External Hard Drive. Cost $60. [View]
- WD — WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive. $60 to $130. [View]
When using mechanical drives, it’s a good idea to purchase two and have one as your primary and the other as a secondary copy just in case the primary drive crashes. This refers to situations where your entire photo collection exists on a single external drive. In such cases you would want a secondary copy of that drive.