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Storage buying guide: selecting the perfect storage device for your needs

Elias Plastiras | April 24, 2015
The advent of streaming music services, and more recently of video on demand services (SVOD) in Australia such as Netflix, Stan, and Presto, has put a lot of audio and video content within fingertip reach. You can access it whenever you want, without you having to worry about the amount of storage space in your computing device. But not everyone has the ability to stream, and local storage is still as important as ever for backups. Here's our guide on the best storage solution for your data storage problem.

Pick up an external hard drive if you want to expand your storage capacity in the easiest and most convenient way. You can plug an external drive in to any computer via USB, and can even connect it to things such as TVs and set-top boxes (where supported).

Portable external hard drives

The beauty of portable external hard drives is that they can be easily taken with you when you need to access your files at work or at school — they can even fit in your pocket. The connection interface is usually USB 3.0 and this is the only cable they require since they also derive their power through this connection.

Capacities for portable external hard drives can vary, with vendors offering anything from 500GB to 4TB. They are good for storing not only music and photos, but also fairly large libraries of video files. Like regular external hard drives, these, too, can be plugged in to smart TVs and other home entertainment devices, and are a neater solution due to only having one cable requirement. However, the USB cable can sometimes be too short and leave the drive hanging behind a TV if the TV's USB port is located too high up.

Consider a portable external hard drive if you need something that you can carry around with you from time to time. We consider these to be supplemental drives that should always be backed up on a computer or another external hard drive due to their portable nature and the fact that they can be accidentally damaged or lost.

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We would also recommend implementing hard drive encryption on such drives to prevent unauthorised data access in the event that you do lose one. Some drives come with their own 'lockers' software for this purpose.

Network attached storage (NAS)

Like the name suggests, these are hard drives that can be plugged directly in to your home (or office) network's router. They are the best solution for sharing storage across multiple computers, including desktops, laptops, and even things such as tablets and smartphones. You need a good router for the NAS to connect to, and the interface is Ethernet, usually of the Gigabit variety.

A NAS device requires a bit more know-how to set up and use compared to a regular external hard drive, primarily because you need to have a functioning home network and an idea about how to access and configure a network drive once it's on your network. Luckily, many NAS devices on the market these days come with tools that can allow you to find and install the drives with relative ease, so the learning curve is not a steep one.


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