I need to buy an external hard drive soon, since it’s clear I’m not getting one for Christmas. However, my computer is very old and doesn’t support USB 3.0, which is the only type I can find in the brand I want. (Except Western Digital, but screw them.) Can’t afford to upgrade, so it’s important to know, can a USB 3.0 drive be used on a system that’s 2.0 or lower?
Also (this is more IMHO territory I know) what’s the most reliable brand? Seagate?
Yes, but it will only transfer data at USB 2 speeds. If you want the better performance in the future, USB3 cards for your computer are generally pretty cheap, plug into a PCI slot, and give you a few ports out the back (assuming a desktop).
There’s very little real data showing a difference between hard drive brands; they’re all pretty reliable these days.
Some USB 2 devices don’t like USB 3 ports. For example, my Harmony remote will not connect using my USB 3 card or hub; I have to plug it into the USB 2 ports on the front of my PC. But such minor incompatibilities have always been a part of USB, especially for non-mainstream devices.
BTW, you can add USB 3 with a small, cheap PCIe-bus card. I recommend Anker, about $20. If you’re going to be moving a lot of data on and off sticks and drives, it’s really worth it.
TYFTA. It is probably best to go with 3.0 since I could use with my laptop or a future new desktop machine. My dead 2.0 drive didn’t seem to have any issues with the laptop, but it may have been using a 2.0 plug (there’s only one slot that I know for sure is 3.0 and it’s being used for the wireless mouse.)
So you’re saying that any off-brands are most likely manufactured by the big guys, but they didn’t pass QC? In any case, I don’t trust WD anymore, this is the second time one of their drives took a dirt nap after only 2-3 years, and I’ve never had any other HD failure except the one that failed almost immediately.
Is Maxtor still around? Those are extremely reliable IME, but I can’t seem to find any.
Why on earth would you use a USB 3 port for a mouse? Meeses and keyboardia probably don’t even need USB 1.1 speeds, much less 2. Swap things around so the mouse uses the slower port, and use USB 3 for data transfer.
I don’t know if it’s a good general recommendation, but I did the research and bought a SiliconPower 1TB “military grade” drive for my essential travel backup. It’s highly water resistant and built like a tank; all I can say is I’ve had zero issues with it in almost two years and expect none.
Okay so I should look for a drive that isn’t pure USB. How do I determine that’s the case?
Huh. I never took the drive anywhere except to store in the safe when I’m not home, but always left the USB cable plugged in because I didn’t want to wear out the port on the drive itself. Was that a mistake?
And is it okay to go with pure USB (if that’s all I can find in my price range) if I never intend to travel with the drive?
The cases for one-piece external drives are usually not made to be reopened. It might be possible, depending on the drive, but you’re likely to break the case in the process. I doubt it’d worth trying. I have heard of people removing the drives from externals to use inside a PC, but not the other way around.
You can buy inexpensive external USB enclosures that are designed to fit a standard HDD. They typically fit together with screws.