There are many types of external storage out there but how are you supposed to know what is best for you, or why you would even need it anyways?

Firstly, External storage is a way of storing your files outside of your computer; we call this backing up. It can also be used to transfer files between computers or to get photos printed. Backing up is essential if you have anything on your computer at all that you do not want to lose whether it is business documents, recipes, or photos of the kids growing up.

The main types of storage you will see are external hard drives and flash drives/thumbdrives/usb sticks/doodads. We will go over the main pros and cons of each.

External Hard drives took the market by storm years ago and were often called “Portable hard drives” which is a bit of a misnomer because although they are easy to move around, they can prove fragile, especially while the drive is plugged in.

There is a small laptop hard drive inside a case that allows you to plug it into your computer. The pros are that these are inexpensive and can store massive amounts of data, the cons are that they are fairly fragile and are big enough that you may not want to carry it around with you if you travel.

USB drives are another very common form of external storage, they can range in shapes and sizes from the size of your thumb (hence the nickname “thumb drive”), to looking like a toy car, or even looking like a debit card in your wallet. Although these drives have come down in price they still are limited in size, we don’t recommend relying on sticks greater than 64GB. The pros are that they are fast, they are small, and they are durable, the con is that they are limited in storage capacity. Many can get away with using a USB drive for a backup.

Whether you choose to back up with en external hard drive, or a thumb drive, be sure to actually use the backup; all too often we see backups that are a few years old which don’t offer any protection.