Get to Know Mini External Hard Drives

Mini external hard drives are making waves as convenient, portable storage options. With sizes exponentially larger than thumb drives and prices that are dropping every day, mini external hard drives provide the extra boost you're looking for in portable storage options. However, mini external hard drives aren't the best solution for everyone, so get to know mini external hard drives to decide whether these storage devices are right for you.

It's All About Portability
The watchword of mini external hard drives is portability. These drives only make sense if you're looking for portability; they're more expensive than larger external hard drives for equal or even smaller storage space. If you're looking for an easy way to carry around your digital media library, or if you need to travel frequently with important files and documents, mini external hard drives might be exactly what you need.

Smaller Size, Smaller Storage
Mini external hard drives simply don't provide as much storage as their larger counterparts. You'll find a few mini external hard drives with up to 500GB, but you won't find one larger than that. The majority of mini external hard drives are 250GB or smaller. Full-sized external hard drives come with storage sizes up to 2TB; four times larger than the biggest mini external hard drives, and eight times larger than the typical mini. If you're looking for a dedicated backup device or you need a lot of storage, mini externals aren't a practical solution.

Higher Price
As with all computer component miniaturization, the smaller the external hard drive, the higher the price. You can get a 1TB external hard drive for approximately the same price as 250 to 320GB mini drive. If you need something lightweight for travel or a slimmer design that will pack in a suitcase, a mini is worth the extra expense. If you're primarily using an external hard drive for data storage and only need to move it once in a while, you'll get the most for your money with a full-size external drive.

Speed Considerations
By their nature, mini external hard drives are slower than larger versions. Most mini external hard drives come in 5400RPM speeds, lagging behind the 7200RPM that's standard for larger external hard drives. The speed of mini external hard drives is also limited by connection type; USB drives are up to six times slower than eSATA, which is an option for larger external drives but not for mini drives.

On the plus side, the smaller data storage of mini drives means you probably won't notice much difference if you're transferring data from either a mini or a full-size external over a USB connection. If you want to run applications or back up data from your computer, you're very likely to notice that speed difference.

Who Should Get a Mini External Hard Drive?
If you travel and need data or a way to store presentations, a mini provides a lightweight, compact solution. They're also an excellent choice for backing up text documents or spreadsheets, which typically have very small file sizes. For family photos that you want to save but seldom need to access, a mini can do the trick.

If you need to back up your hard drive or if you're looking for external storage for music or movie files, game data or applications, a full-size external hard drive is a far better choice. The added read/write speed and data storage space are a worthwhile tradeoff for the extra space on your desk.

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