Which Is The Best Backup Solution: USB Flash Drive, External HDD Or SSD?

By Tim K
Best Backup Solution For Computers

Featured Image Credit: Louise Soe - Flickr.com

In today's world, backing up data is extremely important. Usually, people store important data on their computers and don't have the habit of backing up elsewhere. However, putting all the data in one place is extremely dangerous. Many risks can happen randomly, and these data may be lost. For example, the electrical system has a problem, and your computer broke down with the data in it, or someone steals your computer. Whatever the reason, losing data that is important to your work and life is extremely painful.

Therefore, the only way to prepare for the unexpected is to have a good backup strategy. There are many different ways to back your computer up. When using multiple backup forms, you can reduce the risk of losing valuable files.

The simplest definition of a backup is a copy of the data you have selected and stored at one or more different places. For example, if you want to back up important documents or spreadsheets to two copies, you will clone those data and move them to two different places. However, you must note that these two places should not be on the same device. That is useless because if that device goes down, you will lose both backups. This makes the method and the device used for backups important things to consider for your backup strategy.

USB Flash Drive, External HDD Or SSD: Which Is The Best Solution For Backup?

To back up and save data externally, you can use three simple devices, including USB flash drive, external HDD, and external SSD. All three can help you backup your data well. However, these devices also have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Let's find out more about these devices!

USB Flash Drives

I think there is no need to explain what a USB flash drive is because most people already know what it looks like. Instead, I will dive deeper into the types of USB flash drives you can purchase and their pros and cons.

Advantages Of USB Flash Drives

The first advantage of a USB flash drive is that they are compact and can be put in the pocket to carry everywhere. They also come in many different shapes, so you can hang it on a keyring, or leave it in your wallet like a credit card.

The next good point is that most USB flash drives are shockproof and waterproof, so they are very convenient to carry around anywhere. When you want to use it, simply plug it into the appropriate USB port and use the data you desired. They are great for storing data that you often need to work with. USB flash drives are also very useful in moving data from one device to another quickly.

Besides, a USB flash drive is sometimes used as a bootable drive to install an operating system. For example, you can download a Windows 10 installation file and create a bootable drive to install Windows 10 on other computers. USB flash drives can also be used to create rescue drives, which can help resolve many issues when your computer can't boot up.

Disadvantages Of USB Flash Drive

USB flash drives are not immune to file corruption. Your files can be unreadable or corrupt due to use. Once this happens, there is no guarantee that you can get the lost files back. That is the reason why many professionals or myself always recommend backing up important data regularly and saving it in multiple places.

USB flash drives also have a limited number of times you can write and erase data. This limit is roughly 100,000 times, and once reached, your USB flash drive may be unreadable. However, I think this limitation is quite enough to use several times a day for years. Therefore, the rewrite limitation may not be a concern at all.

Which Types Of USB Flash Drives Should You Buy?

Depending on the purpose and your current situation, you should buy different USB flash drives. For example, if you only want to store small data types, then choose a 16GB or 32GB USB flash drive. Don't waste your money on buying 500GB or 1TB USB flash drives while never reaching that limit.

USB flash drives come in many different shapes, so you should choose the style you prefer. In addition, the USB version is also something you should pay attention to. You may like a USB-C flash drive because the design of the connector looks good and supports very high speeds (up to 40Gbps, at this moment), but this new connectivity port is not popular on many devices. Therefore, at present, I think you should choose a USB Type-A flash drive that supports USB 3.1 as it can be backward compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, and the transfer speed can reach speeds of up to 10Gbps.

External HDDs

If your computer's hard drive capacity is running out, it's time to upgrade your hard drive or add a new one. Attaching a hard drive to a desktop is hardly a problem, but for most laptops, it's a bad idea. Not many laptops support a second hard drive attachment.

For those reasons, why not use an external HDD that plugs into your computer's USB port and acts as a secondary storage solution. It helps to expand the storage capacity on your computer, regardless of whether your computer supports it.

Advantages Of External HDDs

In all the available options, external HDDs give you the most optimal option of high storage capacity at a low cost. For almost the same price as a 256GB USB flash drive, you can buy an external 1TB HDD, which is four times bigger. As such, external HDDs are the best low-cost solution to deal with shrinking computer storage. You can buy a terabyte with a low budget, connect it to your computer to increase a large amount of room for more files and programs.

Disadvantages Of External HDDs

Although they are cheap, they are mechanical hard drives and use moving parts. This makes them more susceptible to damage from bumps, and the most reason for data loss is mechanical damage. However, many companies have researched and produced HDDs with multiple layers of protection to protect against shocks. But most consumers also don't want to risk their important data by using external HDDs and carrying them everywhere.

As such, external HDDs are the best solution to expand storage capacity cheaply, on the condition that they should not be moved much.

External SSDs

SSDs were created to replace traditional HDDs, with more advantages such as being lighter, faster, and not using mechanical parts. However, the SSD's price is several times higher, depending on the product segment.

Nowadays, many computers use both SSD and HDD. These computers use an SSD with a low capacity to install the operating system, helping them to boot up and run faster. Meanwhile, a high capacity HDD, such as 1TB, will be used to store data.

Advantages Of External SSDs

Solid-state drives deliver a speedy transfer speed because they don't have any mechanical parts. They are about 20 to 100 times faster than a traditional hard disk drive. With that kind of speed, your computer can boot up faster, transfer files quicker, and offer higher bandwidth for enterprise computing. This is the most worthy advantage. Besides, without physical moving disks, fragmentation of data in an SSD is negligible and helps to access data faster.

SSDs consume less energy and generate less heat than typical HDDs. This means that SSDs are suitable for energy-efficient computers and systems. SSDs are more durable than HDDs. Therefore, your data will be protected better against physical accidents like drops and shudders. This is another excellent pro of an SSD, especially for laptops and tablets. Unlike HDDs, SSDs don't create any noise while in operation. Furthermore, SSDs are smaller and lighter than HDDs. This means that SSDs are more suitable or an advantageous storage component for portable devices such as ultrabooks or tablets.

Disadvantages Of External SSDs

However, a lot of excellent advantages don't come at a low price. If you want to use an external SSD, be prepared to spend more money than an external HDD or USB flash drive in the same capacity. Therefore, the majority of individuals and businesses still use mechanical HDDs to store large amounts of data for cheap. SSDs are only suitable for storing frequently used applications and data.

In Conclusion

Regardless of USB flash drives, HDDs, or SSDs, they all have their own pros and cons. USB flash drives give a solution to increase your storage space that comes with high mobility. HDDs provide a solution at a low cost. SSDs can offer multiple advantages such as portability, durability, high transfer speed, no noise, and consume less energy. However, consumers need to spend more money per GB to expand their storage capacity.

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