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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Need help choosing external hard drive
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08/09/2021 01:19:38 PM · #1
Due to Covid concerns I'm still doing most of my shopping online, but I need a new external hard drive urgently and I'm struggling to make a choice. The problem is that there are so many drives which sound similar and my Google searches aren't really helping me to find out what the differences are between them.

The two I was looking at were
Seagate One Touch 4TB 2.5" Portable Hard Drive
Seagate Expansion 4TB 2.5" Portable Hard Drive

What is the difference?

The Expansion has received 446 reviews while the One Touch has only received 13, making me wonder whether it's newer technology. The One Touch is also significantly cheaper and is available sooner.

I also read that Western Digital is better, adding to my confusion.

Does it really matter which I buy or are they all equally good?
08/09/2021 02:14:15 PM · #2
I've had better luck with Seagate, though I'm pretty sure that over the years I've had drives from every maker fail.

Not sure what the difference is between those two -- it may only be the included backup software... I have a Seagate 4TB portable but it is labeled "Backup Plus" just to add to the confusion.

The most recent drive I got is a Seagate 8TB desktop model which includes a two-port USB hub, but unlike the portable drives it needs an external power source; those draw port directly from the USB connection. I partitioned it into one larger (5+TB) and one smaller (2+TB) sections ...

Depending on how much storage you need you might also consider one of the newer SSDs -- more expensive/TB but faster and less prone to failure from dropping, etc. ... more important once we're able to travel again if you need to take a drive with you.
08/09/2021 04:10:04 PM · #3
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Not sure what the difference is between those two -- it may only be the included backup software... I have a Seagate 4TB portable but it is labeled "Backup Plus" just to add to the confusion.

The most recent drive I got is a Seagate 8TB desktop model which includes a two-port USB hub, but unlike the portable drives it needs an external power source; those draw port directly from the USB connection. I partitioned it into one larger (5+TB) and one smaller (2+TB) sections ...


I have a couple of old desktop models, but I prefer something that works without its own power because power failures are quite common here, and at least I can use the portable ones with my laptop when the power is out.
Originally posted by GeneralE:



Depending on how much storage you need you might also consider one of the newer SSDs -- more expensive/TB but faster and less prone to failure from dropping, etc. ... more important once we're able to travel again if you need to take a drive with you.


I need a lot of storage because my laptop only has a 500MB hard drive (almost full) and my desktop computer hasn't worked for nearly a year. That has 2GB which were full anyway, with a lot of photos having been moved to external drives a lot time ago. And it I was struggling for space before it's going to be much worse now because the Canon M6 mark II shoots 32mp photos.
08/11/2021 07:08:42 AM · #4
I've had my WD My Book Duo 8TB RAID setup for a few years now and have been very happy with it.

WD My Book Duo RAID

I got it 'cause I was starting to accumulate too darn many 500GB & 1TB drives distributed amongst the various desktops I have i.e. main, work, gallery, ands they all had one of the smaller ones. I got this RAID and confine the storage to my main box.

This is WD's site, there are a number of resellers that carry various versions and sizes of this model.

IMNSHO you can never have too much storage or safe enough backup......YMMV.

Good luck!
08/11/2021 07:39:36 AM · #5
Thanks Jeb. That's more than I was planning to spend, but it's very tempting. My one concern about a drive which needs an external power source is that I know external hard drives are sensitive and I'm worried about something going wrong if I'm using it when we have a power failure.

The hard drive you linked to doesn't seem to be available locally. These are the closest I can find from a quick Google search:

Western Digital My Cloud Home Duo Nas External Hard Drive (6TB)

Western Digital My Cloud Home 8TB

I don't have enough technical knowledge to know why the 8TB drive is cheaper than the 6TB! Unless the 6TB drive has something special to offer, I'd prefer the extra storage.
08/11/2021 08:00:34 AM · #6
The NAS drive is "Network Attached Storage" -- it can be on your local network without being directly attached to a computer, sort of like having your own personal "cloud storage".

If you had a static IP address (expensive) you could probably leave it at home and access it over the internet when you're able to travel again.
08/11/2021 08:08:59 AM · #7
Originally posted by GeneralE:

The NAS drive is "Network Attached Storage" -- it can be on your local network without being directly attached to a computer, sort of like having your own personal "cloud storage".

If you had a static IP address (expensive) you could probably leave it at home and access it over the internet when you're able to travel again.


Thanks. If that's the only difference, I don't need it.
08/11/2021 10:54:03 AM · #8
I don't have much to say on the matter -- except be careful if you ever have to use it on both and a Mac and a PC. I use my husband's Mac laptop occasionally when we travel, and my main computer is a PC. I have a couple of external drives that I've brought to download photos when traveling.

One of those drives can be used on both Mac and PC. The other one can only work on the Mac -- so I have to copy everything from the Mac only drive onto the dual use drive just to then move it to my home computer. :(
08/11/2021 01:11:58 PM · #9
Originally posted by vawendy:

I don't have much to say on the matter -- except be careful if you ever have to use it on both and a Mac and a PC. I use my husband's Mac laptop occasionally when we travel, and my main computer is a PC. I have a couple of external drives that I've brought to download photos when traveling.

One of those drives can be used on both Mac and PC. The other one can only work on the Mac -- so I have to copy everything from the Mac only drive onto the dual use drive just to then move it to my home computer. :(

Yes, Macs can read (and format) a drive using the Windows-based FAT32 format; AFAIK all cameras format memory cards that way too.

I *think* you can get a utility which will let a Mac read a Windows drive formatted in the more-efficient NTSF format, but if so it would definitely add a level of complexity to the situation, and probably not a good idea unless there's a specific need.

I don't know why Windows machines aren't set up to read Mac-formatted drives, and I don't really know what to use with Linux.
08/11/2021 02:03:34 PM · #10
It sounds like I should be grateful that I've only ever used Windows.
08/11/2021 02:49:23 PM · #11
Originally posted by GinaRothfels:

It sounds like I should be grateful that I've only ever used Windows.

Maybe be glad that you've only used one platform -- they each have their advantages and disadvantages, and those of us who have to use both get the worst of each.

Macs have traditionally been easier to use and troubleshoot (though this is needed much less often), especially if you're just getting started, and they may be less vulnerable to viruses and such. But once you have things set up and working there's not that much difference between Macs and Windows anymore.
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