external hard drive or cloud storage


Are you looking for a new storage option but can not decide whether to choose an external hard drive or cloud storage? Both of these storage options have their own set of pros and cons and in this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive comparison between the two, so that you can make an informed decision.

First of all, let us briefly understand what an external hard drive and cloud storage is.

External Hard Drive :

Like any other hard drive, an external hard drive is also used to store data but the main advantage is that it is portable in nature. Thus an external hard drive resides outside the system rather than inside the computer and can be easily connected to any computer via a cable connection.

external hard drive or cloud

Cloud Storage :

Cloud storage refers to the method of storing data on remote servers referred to as cloud servers and this data is accessed via the Internet. Thus, you can store data without using any actual hardware device.

external hard drive or cloud

External Hard Drive or Cloud Storage: Which one is better?

Let us examine cloud storage and external hard drives based on four basic parameters that everyone looks for in a storage service.

Access:

When it comes to accessing your data anytime and anywhere, cloud storage has a big advantage over external hard drives. We might have data on our mobile device, laptop, office computer, etc. and with cloud service, we can store our data from any device that is connected to the Internet without the need to establish any hardware connection. You can access your data from anywhere and many companies such as Google, Dropbox, etc. have even provided a dedicated app for this purpose.
External hard drives on the other hand can store data only from the device they are connected to and you need to carry them around with you while you just need a web browser or an app to access the cloud.

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Speed and Performance:

When it comes to speed for a cloud service, the Internet connection plays a vital role because the transfer speed of your cloud service depends on it. With the introduction of SSD’s, hard drive speeds have increased rapidly and a typical SSD drive can give you transfer speeds in the range of 700-800mpbs. Yet with a highspeed broadband connection cloud users have a greater speed and performance than hard drive users and with 4G and 5G networks now being available you can get great speeds on your mobile devices as well. Thus, if you have a proper Internet connection, then cloud storage is the clear winner and in absence of a proper network, external hard drives have an edge.

Security:

When it comes to the security of your data, both cloud and external hard drives have their features and failures. Most of the cloud service providers encrypt your data through the virtually uncrackable 256-bit AES encryption mechanism and also provide advanced firewalls that defend the server, network, and database from intrusion to ensure maximum security.
Most of the external hard drives come with an in-built encryption mechanism and hackers can’t access your data unless it is connected to your computer.

Although both cloud and external hard drives deploy several security measures, still they are prone to hacker intrusions. Hard drives are susceptible to fire, theft & hard drive failure and though your warranty might replace the hard drive, the data would be lost in these cases. Cloud storage is not affected by natural disasters but they are quite susceptible to hackers who might steal your data. Many a times cloud service providers even sell your data. So, always read the privacy policy of a service provider to check if your data is put in the public domain or not.

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Cost:

The biggest factor of comparison is the cost of the storage service and external hard drives might be ahead in the race here. Cloud storage services provide very less storage capacity (usually some Gigabytes of space) and you need to pay for additional storage. Also, the cloud is like a subscription service and it comes with a recurring fee. On the other hand, external hard drives just require a single upfront cost without any recurring fees and also provide large storage capacity (ranging from a few hundred GB’s to even TB’s).

Thus, we can see that both cloud and external hard drives have their own set of features and you should select your storage based on your requirements. If you need a small storage capacity with proper security and without the need to carry wires and hardware, then cloud storage is the choice for you. But if you need a large storage capacity that is in an affordable price range, then external hard drives are the way to go.

Frequently Asked Questions: External Hard Drive or Cloud Storage?

Is it safe to keep all your data on cloud storage?

Since cloud storage services are relatively more secure than other storage options, it is safe to keep all your data on the cloud.

Will cloud replace hard drives in the future?

Although cloud technology is rapidly advancing, yet pricing remains a major factor due to which hard drives are still dominant in the market. Also with the evolution of SSD hard drives, access times have become very fast and thus it is quite uncertain yet whether hard drives will be replaced by cloud, though it might happen in the future.

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