External Hard Drive Information, A Technical and In-Depth Guide

Hard drives are non-volatile, random-access magnetic data storage devices. They feature rotating rigid platters placed on motor-driven spindles within protective enclosures. Data is then read magnetically written to and read from the platter by the write/read heads that are floating above the platters. First introduced by IBM during the 1950s, hard disks have significantly become smaller and more affordable, while at the same time increasing capacity levels today. Hard drives are typically placed within a computer, but increasing need for portable storage devices gave birth to external drives.

What You Need To Know About An External Hard Drive

Technical Side Of External Hard Drives

External drives sit outside the computer encased in their enclosures, just slightly larger than the HDD’s themselves. It depends on the brand and model, but cooling fans may be attached as well. This encased design allows for information to be stored on the external hard drives connected to the computer using high-speed interface cables, communicating with the computer for data transfer. The most common interfaces used for external hard drive cables are Firewire and USB.

External drives or portable drives are useful because they allow you the user to store or back up important information separately from your main drive, the one within your computer, that could be compromised by offline and online activities. The kinds of files you can put in external drives vary, but they can be large music files, sensitive documents, disk images, DVD images, movies, or simply a copy of everything you have on your main disk drive. If you go online, you can even opt not to turn on your external drive. Apart from taking care of your files, external hard drives are also very convenient to use since they are portable and can simply be activated via plug-and-play technology, which means you don’t have to install anything to be able to use one.

Accessing Your Hard Drive

Any computer hooked up to a Firewire, or USB port can recognise external hard drives as storage devices and assign letters to designate them. The external disks can be accessed like you would main drive. To transfer large files back and forth, just drag and drop. Plug in the cables to quickly recreate your working environment, making programs virtually portable. If you have several members in the family using one computer, external drives can do good work in keeping financial information and other documents secure. After using, just make sure that your external hard drives are locked away in a drawer or any other secure place you can think of.

Besides these, there are also still various ways you can use external hard drives because you can fashion them as you will be based on your needs. Different people have different needs, so it is to be expected that what you do with external disks will not necessarily be the same for others, and vice versa. You can get your hands on external hard disks from wherever computing devices are available. Whether you buy online or from a local retailer is also entirely up to you.

The advantages of using an external hard drive:


Most importantly, it can be used as a backup to store data that can be easily corrupted by viruses that attack the computer despite installing the best anti-virus software and firewalls. It is always advisable to have a backup of all important official data on an external hard drive.


At times, there is very confidential and sensitive information on the computer which should be accessed only by a few select people. Such data need not be stored on the internal hard drive. It can be stored on different external hard drives and each person who is authorized to access that data can be given an external hard drive.

Music and Videos

People like to listen to songs or watch movies on their computers or laptops. This data requires a lot of space and can hence be stored on an external drive rather than on the internal hard drive. If you are taking a flight, you can watch your favorite movie or listen to songs of your choice by simply plugging in the external hard drive into your computer.

Going on Vacation

An external drive comes in handy when you go on vacation trips. If you are carrying a digital camera, you can click innumerable photographs and then transfer them to your computer. You can then save them on your external hard drive rather than let them occupy too much space of the internal hard drive. You can empty the photographs existing in your digital camera and store them on the external hard drive so that you can keep clicking more photographs.

Physical Size

It is a very small device and can be easily carried with you. If you need to transfer some data from one computer to another or save some songs, movies, etc. from your friend’s laptop onto your external hard drive and access them later, it can be easily done. Plus, external hard drives do not make noise while processing data while internal home drives do make some noise.


A lot of care should be taken when handling the external hard drives so that they can offer longevity in operation. Right from establishing a connection, the external drive should be plugged in, and the drivers installed so that it is connected and used. Mostly the drives will come with their driver software which should start installation upon connecting to the computer. Again care should be taken when removing the drive from the computer to make sure that it is done correctly to avoid the corrupting of data and other mishaps. The safe method of removing the hard drive is by following the recommended procedure to eject or remove the hard disk.

Other precautions include that the external drives should be kept away from water and any liquid which may spill on it and cause irreparable damage. As soon as the external drive is connected to the computer, an icon will appear on the right side of the taskbar at the bottom. You are required to follow the suggested procedure to remove it safely and properly. If it is just yanked out from the USB socket without ejecting it properly, it may end up corrupting or losing the stored data. The drive is ejected by right-clicking on the icon in the on the taskbar icon to remove the hard drive safely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *