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Wondering if you should get an external hard drive for college? Is there any benefit to having an external hard drive?

Should you get an external hard drive for college? The simple answer is yes. An external hard drive is perfect for backing up your important projects or saving your freshmen photos. If you want a more detailed explanation on why then read below.

What Is An External Hard Drive?

Just as the name suggests an external hard drive is external. It plugs into your computer on the outside usually through a USB. They often expand your storage by double or triple the size of your computer depending on the size of the hard drive. So what makes them so useful for college?

External Hard Drive: Portablility

The first and most obvious advantage to using an external hard drive is portability. If you ever need to use a different computer for whatever reason and have your project saved on your hard drive it’s simple as plugging it in. You have access to all the files saved on the drive and can begin using them straight away. This can be compared to using a flash drive on two different computers the process is easy.

What makes a flash drive and external hard drive different is the storage size. Flash drives themselves usually hold small amounts of data and transfer at slow rates. External hard drives on the other hand can hold lots of data and can transfer data at very fast speeds. Depending on what you need to do and the size of the files you want to share an external hard drive will be better than a flash drive.

External Hard Drive: Back Up

Hard drives themselves aren’t perfect and will eventually fail. What does this mean about your files on that hard drive? Well, they’re gone and there really isn’t anything you can do to retrieve them. That is why having a backup hard drive is a good idea. With an external hard drive, you are able to store backups of important files in case you become a victim of a dead hard drive. Well, what about cloud storage?


Know all hard drives are not created equal and serve different purposes. To boil it down, there are two different types of external hard drives, HDD and SSD. HDD is the older of two and the more budget-friendly version. An HDD is a mechanical hard drive meaning there is a spinning disk that stores all your data. These drives usually hold greater storage at a lower price but speeds are slower due to them being mechanical. HDD hard drives are also more likely to break than SSD because of the moving parts.

SDD hard drives are more like flash drives storing their data electronically. Since they don’t rely on a disk to move to get data they are considerably quicker. This also means they are more expensive charging a premium for bigger storage sizes.

Depending on your budget and storage size an SSD or HDD will be preferable.

External Hard Drive: Priviacy

Everyone wants their important files to be secure. External hard drives serve as a great alternative to cloud services providing a more secure experience.

Cloud Services

Cloud storage is another solution to backing up your data but isn’t the most secure. When you agree to use a companies cloud service you give them permission to use your files. This means that Google or whoever you sign with can use your files for other reasons than storage, kind of scary.

Another benefit to using an external hard drive is not having your files on the web. The internet is crawling with hackers and people who want to access your important files. Sometimes there are data breaches on cloud services giving hackers access to your important files. This doesn’t happen often and google has a lot of security features in place to prevent this but it still can happen.

External Hard Drive: Reliablity

Having a hard drive also gives you a reliable way to get your data. Imagine you have a project presentation in a few hours and you have it saved on the cloud. Sometimes the cloud services will go down and you can’t access your files not very reliable.

External hard drives give you the most reliable way to store your files. Whenever you need your files a simply plug in your hard drive and transfer your files. It doesn’t get easier than that.

External Hard Drive: Expenses

The upfront cost of hard drives depending on the size can get expensive but once you purchase the hard drive you don’t have to worry about maintenance fees. Cloud Storage is different and requires a monthly subscription to use their services.

Depending on how long you plan on backing up your storage cloud services could cost more than purchasing an external hard drive.


External hard drives provide many services that you can’t obtain anywhere else. They are more secure and reliable than cloud services while being cheaper in most cases. Overall, external hard drives will be a great addition to your backpack and give you the utility to store your data any way you want.


I'm a college student just like you. I want to know what the best tech is so I can be successful at college.

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