The Best External Hard Drive and SSD Deals for April 2022 – PCMag

There's no shortage of digital storage solutions available today, from plug-and-play external flash drives to massive multi-terabyte internal drives for your tower CPU.
World Backup Day has passed, but the need to back up your files hasn’t gone away. Now is a good opportunity to stop and think: What would happen if your hard drive failed today? What would you do if you lost a lifetime’s worth of photos, documents, and files? And what could you have done to keep it from happening?
The answer is (unsurprisingly) that you should be backing up your data using some extra storage space. There is no shortage of digital storage solutions available today, from plug-and-play external flash drives to massive multi-terabyte internal drives for your tower CPU. But what’s the best fit for your needs? And how can you spend the least while getting the most? 
Here are the best deals we’ve found for storage that can save you not just hundreds of dollars, but the agony of losing all your data. 
If you’re looking for a quick and simple storage solution, an external drive is your best choice to quickly back up your data. External drives simply plug into your machine via a USB or Thunderbolt connection and don’t require any technical know-how for installation. The main questions you have to answer are simply how much storage you need, how quick you need it to transfer, how durable you need your drive to be, and how much you want to spend.
When looking at an external HDD (hard disk drive), you’ll find that these are generally cheaper than SSD (solid-state drives) but this comes at a trade-off of speed and durability. Thanks to the moving parts and spinning discs of an HDD, these are more likely to fail over time, and also due to the moving parts, it’s going to be slower in terms of data transfer as well. That said, the amount of storage available is roughly the same as an SSD, so if you need a lower-priced short-term option that is good for transferring data between two devices, an HDD is a good fit.
Like the external HDD drives, an external SSD is easy to use: Plug it into your device with a USB or Thunderbolt connection and you can instantly have terabytes upon terabytes of data storage and backup available to you. The simplicity and speed of these drives, however, will cost you. 
SDDs differentiate themselves largely based on their speed: These devices make almost everything quicker, from starting apps to copying files to pulling up those files in a flash. Another benefit: Thanks to a lack of moving internal parts, these drives are a lot less prone to failure. The downside? Because SDD technology is much newer and chip prices are ever-increasing, you might be paying up to 10x more per TB for the speed and reliability. 
So if you want or need your data instantaneously and aren’t concerned about cost, we’d buy the SDD almost every time. For those of us on a budget who can wait a few extra seconds for a drive to spin up our files, a HDD might still be the best bet. 
If you’re comfortable opening up your desktop computer tower and making a few connections, an internal HDD is going to be the best, most cost-effective way to add extra storage and backup space. Yes, it’s a bit more intensive than plugging in a box to your USB port, but for a long-term solution that doesn’t add clutter to your desk, an internal HDD is the way to go. These internal HDDs are also great for adding to the storage capacity of constantly recording security systems.  
An external drive is still your best choice if you know that you’ll be transferring a lot of data between two machines, but if you’re planning to just keep all your data in one place, that’s another reason to add a new internal drive to your machine. And as with the external drives, HDD is always going to give you more storage space for the dollar at the expense of speed, but since an internal device is going to be under less duress than a drive moving from place to place, durability is a bit less of a concern with these add-ons.
The benefits of an internal SSD drive are the same as the external: They’re ridiculously fast, they use less power, they have no moving parts and they’re whisper-quiet. The downsides are the same: For those benefits, you’ll be paying a lot more per TB of storage. That said, prices on internal SSDs seem to be more accessible than the external devices, so adding a terabyte or two is more achievable for a little extra effort.
Internal SSDs come in two types: the M.2 style that looks like microchips soldered to a stick of gum, which primarily are added to laptops, or the 2.5-inch drives which slot into your desktop. As long as you’re going to be opening up your device to install these, you should get the most storage you can at once, so spend a few extra bucks to add at least one terabyte. Most users will find that to be plenty of space for photos, videos and music; If you’re a power content creator or a gamer,  you’re probably looking in the 2TB-8TB area for your usage. 
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Even after testing dating apps for PCMag, Karl Klockars remains happily married to his wonderfully understanding and awesome wife, Nora, and lives in Chicago. He is the author of Beer Lovers Chicago, runs the site, writes for outlets including AskMen, Chicago Magazine, and Thrillist, and recently entered the world of voice-over artistry. is a leading authority on technology, delivering Labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.
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