Why You Don’t Want to Buy an External Hard Drive

Shawn Lemon
July 6, 2022

Your external hard drive is going to fail.

Every hard drive out there is going to fail at some point, the question is: when? Hard drives and CD/DVD drives are the components that fail most in computers. Why? They have a bunch of tiny little moving parts that break down and fail when they get dropped or too hot.

So what...? Most of you reading this know that hard drives are unreliable, and if I asked for a show of hands asking who has had a hard drive fail, the scene would look like a bunch of teenage girls at the front of a Justin Bieber concert.

I want you to know that there is a better way to back up your data and to store the files that you don't need with you all the time.

  • Backing up your computer: I use and recommend a service called Backblaze. This service automatically backs up your computer and any other drives you might have connected to your machine. It's great for making sure that you've got everything safe online, all the time. In my experience, it backs up and restores your data faster than Carbonite and Mozy. At the Apple Store, when someone would come in saying their computer was slow, Carbonite and Mozy were the first things we looked for. Backblaze however, does not slow your machine down. If you need a system restore and downloading a ton of files isn’t a good option, you can pay them to send you an external drive with your data.
  • Storing files online so you can delete them off your computer. This is a big deal for some of us. We want to have our files accessible, but some of this stuff just doesn't need to be with us EVERYWHERE we go. You can use Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, or many other services for this type of thing. By default, these services used to COPY files to an online location. So that means it's staying on your computer AND it's online. Now, if you’re using the most recent version of their app, they have options to make files online-only. Read more about it for Dropbox here, and Google Drive here.

    In addition, these apps are now allowing you to back up specific folders from your computer to their service. This is a great option, but doesn’t always give you the version history you might need from a service like Backblaze in case something were deleted or modified.
  • Solid State Drive (SSD) You may have dismissed SSD’s in the past because of the price, but that’s changed in the past few years. That said, not all of them are on the same playing field. They all boast similar numbers, but it’s a technicality they can get away with because of a boring reason you probably don’t care about. They’re wildly different. My choice is the Samsung T7, or whatever the model is current when you read this. They’re a great value and fast. If you want to find the fastest and compare pricing, check out this site that collects real speed tests from real people. It’s a bit nerdy, so be forewarned.

Personally, I’m using a Samsung T7 for my physical backup with Time Machine for my Mac. This allows me to plug in the hard drive to a new Mac if I break this one and I’m up and running in minutes.

I use Backblaze for a cloud backup of whatever is physically on my computer. This is a just-in-case backup since I’m not good about plugging in the physical Samsung T7 often.

I’m not using Google Drive to backup my computer because I already use that for the majority of my working files. I want things somewhere else, just in case.

You never want to have just one place where something lives. If you buy an external hard drive (not recommended) or an external SSD (recommended), make sure that data gets copied online or to another drive in case it breaks.