An external hard drive is the easiest and safest way to back up your data. But what to choose between an SSD and a platter hard drive? Here are our tips for choosing the right one for you, as well as our picks for the best SSDs and HDDs available on the market.
You may have had the traumatic experience of a hard drive or computer failing, or worse, being stolen, with no way to recover the lost data. In a few minutes, an entire digital life is gone. Important documents, family photos, audio library or video library, an accidental vacuum cleaning is hell to handle.
More prosaically, you may be a little tight on your laptop’s hard drive, and an external drive will let you relax. If you’re a middle school or high school student, an external drive is ideal for storing your lessons and homework.
An external drive, which offers more storage capacity than a USB key or a microSD card, whether it is a drive or an SSD, is therefore the ideal companion for your computer. Par abus de langage, on parle de «disque dur externe» pour désigner aussi bien un HDD (le veritable « disque dur ») qu’un SSD, qui situate lui sur une memoire flash, et n’est pourtant pas à proprement parlé un HDD.
Which external hard drive to choose? Here’s a small selection of SSDs and HDDs to help you out.
The best external hard drives:
Pour encore plus de sûreté, on vous recommande de passer à l’étape supérieure et de regarder notre guide NAS pour vos sauvegardes, mais aussi notre guide des meilleurs SSD M.2 MVNe pour un bon stockage interne, surtout si vous possédez un ordinateur de dispatch. Do you want to protect this set? Head over to our guide to the best investors.
Samsung T7: the best SSD
If you are looking for a versatile, reliable and fast external hard drive, the Samsung T7, successor to the famous T5, is undoubtedly a recommendation to follow with your eyes closed. Overall, Samsung has established itself as a master in the small SSD space.
This model is available in 500 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB versions. It is compact, light: its format is comparable to that of a credit card (not thick!). So you can leave it on your desk and plug it in when you need it, or take it to work or on vacation.
Its USB-C (3.1 Gen 2) connector ensures good transfer speeds, its write and read speed (theoretical) exceeds 1000 MB/s. Fast, reliable and compact, it has everything to please. It will work with all machines on the market, PC (Windows or macOS) and game console. It will also work with Android phones that have a USB-C connector and iPad Pros that have switched to USB-C. In short, if you want a reliable, easy-to-use product with a good quality/price ratio, this is the right choice.
The strengths of the Samsung T7 SSD:
- Very compact and sober
- Good read and write speeds
- a safe bet
Samsung T7 Touch: an SSD with fingerprint protection
Samsung released a new model in 2020 – the T7 Touch. It supports USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 and can deliver speeds of up to 1 Gb/s for compatible devices. It also offers AES-256 encryption with password or fingerprint protection. It is a good alternative to protect your sensitive data. You can learn more in our Samsung T7 Touch test, but know that we really liked it.
Therefore, it is a very good external hard drive option if you want to protect your data even better and transfer it much faster. It is available in several capacities: 500 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB and in two colors.
The strengths of the Samsung T7 SSD:
- Even faster transfers
- more secure data
Samsung T7 Shield: strength and speed
Still in the T7 range, Samsung offers a more robust version, the T7 Shield. The latter can be taken everywhere and survive accidents: the Korean promises shock resistance of up to 3 meters, thanks in particular to a specific elastomer coating. It also has IP65 certification and is therefore resistant to water and dust, a very good point. Thus it will easily withstand an invasion of grains of sand or a spilled glass of water. Barely larger than a bank card, it can be slipped into any laptop bag or briefcase.
On the security side, Samsung offers a data encryption solution using a double partition system. For performance, on paper, 1050 MB/s read and 1000 MB/s write are promised. In practice, they are nearly achieved, especially under Windows. For more information, you can find our Samsung T7 Shield test.
Highlights of the Samsung T7 Shield:
- infallible solidity
- compact design and
- An attractive price-quality ratio
SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD: For Adventurers
If you’re looking for a fast and robust external drive, the Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD should satisfy you. It has the particularity of being IP55 certified to resist splashes and dust, which will make it an ally of choice for those who use their drive “in the field”, we are thinking, for example, of photographers who would venture into wild lands. You will also find this in the non-Pro version.
The Pro model is distinguished by an NVMe interface inside and high-performance memory to reach speeds greater than 1 Gb/s (up to 2 Gb/s depending on the model). Of course, to take advantage of it when transferring files, you will need to have a USB 3.1 Gen 2 socket. Keep in mind that this will be very useful for moving large files within the disk or working directly on them without having to import them. Its storage capacities range from 1 TB to 4 TB.
SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD Highlights:
- A robust SSD
- very high flow rates
Western Digital MyBook: the (very) large capacity HDD
Do you need to store a large amount of data? For professional or personal reasons. We recommend the Western Digital MyBook whose capacities range from 3TB in a single bay up to 24TB(!) in two bays (two drives). To offer such large capacities, it is obviously based on 3.5-inch platter disks (HDDs).
This has two main consequences: it’s not self-powered via its USB cable, so you’ll have to plug it into a power outlet, and it’s bulky, especially in the dual-bay version. In other words, it’s a drive meant to sit on your desk or next to your game console and not move around. He’ll be an ideal candidate for an endorsement. Time Machine also on macOS.
It connects via USB 3.0 or USB-C for fast transfer speeds, but disk drives will still be slower than SSDs. You’re free to choose how much storage you need, but even if it means going for this external drive, you can still go for an 8TB one, for around $190.
But be careful! With such capabilities, a drive failure could be very painful. So start considering buying a NAS to protect your backups.
The strengths of Western Digital My Book:
- A large storage capacity
- great on a desk
Toshiba Cambio Basics: I called him to take 2 To no cher
If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll have to resort to a smaller capacity external platter hard drive. The good news is that you’ll still get 2TB of storage. HDDs are much cheaper than SSDs. The test with this Toshiba 2TB drive was sold for 55 euros. It’s half the price of the Samsung T5 for twice the capacity.
It’s obviously a more basic drive, only caring about the essentials, but at USB 3.0 nonetheless for fast enough transfer speeds not to be painful. That said, this is a 5400 revolutions per minute (RPM) drive, so writing and reading won’t be the fastest. In 2.5-inch format, it will be powered directly through the USB cable without further ado. The platter disc is a must, and even if it’s small, we recommend keeping it when you travel. However, this is still a very inexpensive solution for backing up your files.
The strong points of Toshiba Cambio Basics :
- An HDD with USB 3.0
- An economic solution
How to choose the right external hard drive (HDD or SDD)
How do I choose the right capacity for my external drive?
It depends a lot on your uses, but we can give you a simple rule of thumb to estimate your needs. Take the capacity of the computer whose data you want to back up and buy an external drive with twice that capacity. This will ensure that you can save all of your current data and leave room for months and years to come.
Beyond that, compare the price per GB of each drive, not all capacities are the same. At the moment, 4TB drives are the most interesting at this point.
What are the differences between an SSD and an HDD?
As far as discs are concerned, two families coexist: the Solid state drive or SSD and the HDD or hard drive. The former are based on the so-called “flash” memory that is now used in all mobile devices, because it is not based on mechanical parts. Therefore, it is faster, more resistant to shocks and consumes less power. Of course, it is more expensive. Depending on the type of memory used, its longevity is also more limited (between 10,000 and 100,000 write cycles). In practice, it’s pretty rare to reach the end of cycles or see your data disappear.
For HDD, it’s a bit the opposite. They are based on mechanical disks that, therefore, must be read by also mechanical heads. This head magnetizes or not a ferromagnetic material to write the data. Mechanical parts force, so they are less shock resistant, noisier and consume more power. On the other hand, they have greater capacities, and are cheaper.
How to choose between an SSD or an HDD?
Opt for an SSD if performance and robustness are what you are looking for above all. Opt for an HDD if you are looking for a lot of storage space above all. Keep in mind that an HDD will always be less expensive than an SSD with the same capacity. However, a hard drive will be less durable as it uses a mechanical principle to write and read data. So, mechanically too, it will tend to decrease over the years.
Also, dropping an HDD, even from a modest height, can be fatal. This is not the case with an SSD. Therefore, if you plan to transport your external drive regularly, the choice of the SSD is obvious.
How not to lose your data?
One of the best practices to adopt is to back up your data locally and on the cloud. If this second option is more reliable, it’s also a little less easy to access and often requires a paid subscription except to keep it size limited. Investing in an external hard drive or SSD is therefore a simple solution to improve the security of your data.
However, be careful: a simple external hard drive is not enough to ensure the safety of your data. An accident like a flood or fire can easily destroy your computer and your backups at the same time. More simply, an external drive is relatively fragile: it can be dropped, or the USB connector can be broken by little ones while playing with it. We can never repeat it enough: So also invest a few tens of euros a year in an online backup solution.
How often should I back up the data on my hard drive?
As often as possible. Backups are the kind of thing you put off forever until you’re faced with a fait accompli, cursing your procrastination. One backup per quarter is, in our opinion, the default attitude. The more important your data is, the more often we recommend that you do this.
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