Pros and Cons of Using External Hard Drives

An external hard drive is a convenient data storage device that can hold various forms of digital files. It’s a separate device that attaches to your computer, usually through a USB port. An external hard drive can be moved between computers and can provide extra storage space for backup files. While external hard drives are a great solution for data backups and portability, there are both pros and cons to relying on them for your data.

An external USB hard disk drive isolated on a white background.

Pro: Data is Accessible Offline

External hard drives are much smaller and more portable than they once were, and can easily be connected to nearly every computer. You will not need to be connected to the internet to access your data, and when you keep your sensitive data offline, you lessen the risk that your data can be targeted by any sort of online attack. You can access your data without relying on Wi-Fi or internet connectivity no matter where you are.

Con: Hard Drives Aren’t Infallible

It was once said that there are two kinds of hard drives in the world: those that have failed and those that will fail. External hard drives can be corrupted, like any other piece of hardware. They can be susceptible to fire and water damage, can overheat, and can malfunction. There is nothing worse than feeling like you’ve backed up your important data, only to find out that your backup solution has failed.

Pro: Data is Safe

Cloud storage is a great way to back up your data, but there are risks to relying on cloud-based services to back up your data, particularly if it is sensitive and confidential. You can password protect your data, but at the end of the day, you are still providing access to a third party to host that data. In addition, spyware, keyloggers, and malware can be running in the background when you access your data on a different computer. When you use external hard drives, your data belongs only to you and you have physical possession of all that sensitive information. Your data is safe, and even safer when you password protect the portable hard drive.

Con: A Hard Drive Can be Stolen

Today’s external hard drives are small, which is great for portability, but can make them harder to keep safe. Small, removable devices are easy to steal and conceal, and once they are out of your possession, they can be used by whoever took them. Password protection is a great level of protection for a casual thief, but a cyber criminal may go through great lengths to make use of their theft, and they will know how to access your files.

Pro: You Know Your Data Belongs Only to You

Another advantage that a portable hard drive has over cloud-based data storage is that you are not giving any ownership over to a third party, such as Google or Apple. When you read the fine print, you will notice that the company who owns the cloud service can use your data, and that is concerning when it comes to any sensitive company data you may have stored there.

External hard drives are a great solution for backups. After the initial investment in the hard drive there is no monthly service charge, you know your data is in your hands, and you know you can access that data anywhere. But external hard drives aren’t completely infallible. You will need to make sure you take all the necessary steps to protect that data, and even consider backing up your back-up.

With the right knowledge and tools, you can keep your information safe and accessible. We strive to keep our community informed of potential cyber security risks because we know the right information can make a big difference in your level of data security. External hard drives, while they are not fail-proof, are a great way to store your data. For more information on cybersecurity best practices, check out our AccuShred blog.