External hard drives come in two main sizes, portable and desktop. Portable external drives tend to be 2.5” hard drives in a slimline chassis. They typically connect via USB or Firewire and offer similar storage capacities to their desktop counterparts although are more fragile and susceptible to damage. Portable drives are usually powered by the computer they connect to and therefore don’t need a separate power supply. Desktop external hard drives are based on larger 3.5” hard drives, usually have their own power supply and offer the highest possible storage capacities and performance levels.
There are three main considerations when choosing an external hard drive. Most important is the capacity of the drive – the higher the capacity, the greater the storage space for your precious files. The drives spindle speed (stated in RPM – revolutions per minute) governs how fast data is read from and written to the drive with the higher the number the better. Finally, the drive’s interface dictates how the drive connects to your computer. USB and Firewire are the two most common interfaces but other connections like HDMI are also available.
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