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Expand your Storage Options with External Solid State Drives

These days, most of us have fast and reliable solid state drives in our desktop and laptop computers. However, portable SSDs are an equally crucial part of many people’s digital lives. Like internal SSDs, these drives use NAND flash memory to store files, but they are self contained in their own enclosures. With no moving parts and greater resistance to bumps and drops, external SSDs are perfect for taking your data on the go.

Using an SSD as an external hard drive gives you all of the speed and rugged performance of solid state storage on your laptop, on your game console, in a remote office, at a gig, or wherever life takes you. Portable SSDs are especially popular with designers, photographers, and other people who work with big files outside of an office setting, but they are also great for gamers, students, and anybody who needs high performance external storage.

Choosing the Best External SSD for You

Here are a few of the key elements of an external SSD to consider when you are shopping:

Storage Capacity: How much space do you need? 1 TB drives are a popular happy medium for many users, but external SSDs come in sizes as small as 500 GB and as large as 4 TB and up.

Read / Write Speed: Sequential read and write speeds are the bread and butter of SSDs. Higher speeds mean faster data transfers, although it is worth noting that other elements of your system, such as the USB port you are using, affect whether you can actually use the drive’s rated transfer speed.

Waterproof / Dustproof: These features are incredibly important if you will be using your portable SSD outdoors often, or in other environments where it might encounter harsh conditions. Look for an ingress protection or IP rating, such as IP65 or IP68, to get information about the conditions it is built to withstand.

Hardware Encryption: Security can be a major concern when you’re taking a data storage device on the go. That is why some drives offer hardware encryption, such as the industry standard AES 256 bit.

Connectivity: Almost all external SSDs today connect through a USB C interface, although a few models use the older USB A connector or the ultra high speed Thunderbolt 3. If you need the fastest data transfer, note which generation of the USB 3.0 standard the drive uses. Newer generations, such as the ultra fast, multi lane USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, will be faster offer the best speed and performance on the market, although average users often won’t notice much difference between the various iterations of the standard.

Form Factor: Although form factor matters less with external SSDs than internals since you are not mounting it inside your computer, it is still worth considering the physical size and shape of your external SSD. Some users want ultra compact SSDs that can travel with them anywhere, while others are fine with larger models that will live mostly on their desktops and only travel occasionally such as gaming SSDs.

Browse Micro Center’s full selection of external SSDs here and find the best prices on top SSD brands like Samsung, Western Digital, Seagate, and more. Searching for the most affordable external storage solutions? Don’t forget to browse our external HDDs as well.

Hard Drives and Data Storage for Your Most Important Files

Even in the age of streaming and cloud storage, all computers still need a primary local storage device. This type of storage must use non volatile memory, meaning it retains its data even when the computer is powered off, and must store the data in the end users location rather than in the cloud. In most systems, this is known as the hard drive.

Although the term hard drive technically means a traditional hard disk drive or HDD with a spinning magnetic disk, it is commonly used to mean all kinds of data storage devices, including todays hugely popular solid state drives or SSDs. SSDs use NAND flash memory with no moving parts, making them both faster and more resilient than traditional HDDs — although HDDs have advantages of their own, including lower prices.

Some users only need a fast and reliable internal drive for their computer, while others need high capacity external drives for storing multiple terabytes of bulky files.

Businesses, meanwhile, often need even higher storage capacity drives for their network attached storage or NAS systems, which use multiple drives to provide access to data across a local network and may use a redundant configuration called a RAID array. Whether you are looking for an SSD or HDD, internal or external, you will find the right option for you in Micro Centers extensive selection of storage drives.

Choosing Your Data Storage Solution

Considering these factors will make it easier to find the right data storage solution:

SSD vs. HDD: SSDs are the most popular choice for storage because they are extremely reliable and offer high speed performance on everyday tasks. HDDs, meanwhile, offer solid reliability in less strenuous environments and tons of storage space for an affordable price. See our SSD vs. HDD guide for more key information on this important choice.

Data Transfer Speed: The speed at which a hard drive moves data to or from a device can matter a lot, especially if you often send files to an external drive. If transfer speed is a priority on your external drive, look for USB 3.0 drives or higher, which offer faster speeds as long as your computer ports also support USB 3.0.

Interface: Most internal HDDs and some internal SSDs use the classic SATA interface, which attaches via a SATA port on your motherboard. SSDs might also use the newer NVMe format, which offers faster speeds but is not present on all motherboards. External hard drives almost always use either a USB A or USB C connector.

Form Factor: Pay attention to the physical size and shape of your drive, especially if it is an internal hard drive. Many newer SSDs, for example, use the slim M.2 design, while others may use the larger 2.5 inch form factor. HDDs, meanwhile, may use either 2.5 inch or 3.5 inch bays. Remember to check whether your motherboard includes an M.2 slot or the bay size of your computer or NAS server box.

Operating System: Some SSDs and HDDs are designed for compatibility specifically with Windows or macOS. This also matters for file formatting since you might have to reformat your drives storage system if it uses a file format that is not compatible with your OS.

Data Recovery and Backup: Some manufacturers offer data recovery options if your drive fails. Check the drives warranty and specs to learn about the conditions and capacities of each data recovery service. Of course, the best option is to create robust backups to minimize your risk of data loss in the first place, and we highly recommend using an external drive or cloud backup service to back up any local storage volume.

Micro Centers hard drive selection includes all of the top names in computer hard drives like Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung, Toshiba, and more. Find great deals on your data storage solution here, or check out our lineup of SD cards and USB flash drives for more storage options that perform whenever and wherever you need them.

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