With so many different options when it comes to external memory, it can be hard to know where to even begin looking for something to suit your data storage needs. If you are looking for something with a lot of storage space, ranging anywhere from 50GB to upwards of 1TB, you’ll be best off investing in a USB 3.0 external hard drive. If you want to learn and find a best external hard drive, click here for more information.

While thumb drives and flash sticks are great for portability, they generally are lacking in storage space, most usually capping at around 8-16GB. When looking for an external hard drive, there are a few aspects you’ll want to compare.

1. Data Transfer Speeds

Data transfer speeds determine how fast you can move files on to your external drive from your PC. If you have a lot of large files, or you are using the external drive more for a backup, data transfer speed is definitely something you’ll want to look into when shopping around. It can be the difference between waiting a few minutes and waiting a few hours for your files to transfer. The biggest factor that plays into data transfer rates is the connection that the drive uses, and whether the drive is a solid state drive (SSD) or a standard hard drive. While the solid state drives tend to be faster, they are also a bit more expensive.

2. Space

The next thing to look at is how much storage space the drive provides. If you are using the drive more as a way to transfer files, and it will be used more for temporary storage, then you can afford to get a smaller drive, between 75 GB and 250GB. 250GB hard drives are very affordable, ranging between $25-$35 USD. If you are using it as a supplement to your existing internal storage, or are using the drive to backup your entire system, you might want to opt for a larger drive.

You should check the maximum storage on your internal memory and purchase something to match if you are using it as a backup. If you plan on using it as a supplemental hard drive, for example for high end games, 1TB should offer more than enough space. 500GB and 1TB hard drives generally range from $45-$80 USD depending on the model.

3. Portability and Durability

Most external hard drives are fairly portable, though there are some differences between models you will want to keep in mind. Many larger sized external hard drives have their own cooling systems and require a power supply to function. While this is fine for either a backup drive or a supplemental drive, this isn’t going to be convenient for if you plan on using the drive to move files back and forth frequently.

If you are going to be doing a lot of transferring, or keeping a drive for keeping projects on for business purposes, you will want to get a hard drive that does not require any external power, and is simply powered by the USB connection to your PC or laptop.