External Hard Drive vs. Online Storage

Regardless of whichever device you use, machines are prone to damage and malfunction. Major damage to the hard disk you use daily may cause you to lose data which may be irrecoverable. This goes for both individual users and large organizations. However, while the trend just a decade ago was to purchase external hard drives, online storage has started substituting this physical device in both homes and companies.

If you’re interested in discovering which of these options will be best for you, read on to discover the factors they share or differ in.


Online storage is more cost-effective than external hard drives. Now the cost structure is different for both, i.e. you have to pay for the external hard drive once and for online storage on a monthly or annual basis. However, in the long-run, online storage holds the edge over external hard drives. In fact, most online storage space providers give you free storage up to a certain limit.


Online storage is far easier to use than external hard drives. Rather than plugging and waiting for your drive to be identified by your computer, all you have to do is upload files or drag and drop them into your storage space. Some cloud storage providers, such as Dropbox and SkyDrive, offer you desktop apps that integrate with your file system and function like your device’s folders.

Backup Time

In terms of the time needed to create a backup, online storage is miles ahead of external hard drives. Depending on your internet speed, a huge amount of files can be backed up in a couple of hours. The process is being carried out online so it will never affect your computer’s performance despite delaying your downloads a little and slowing down your browser.

On the other hand, creating a local backup could take more than a day. For one, you cannot use the external hard drive for too long. Long periods of use will place excessive pressure on the hard disk, causing it to heat up. Moreover, you might have to leave the computer unused in order for the file transfer to be completed quickly.

Real-Time Syncing

Most online storage providers offer real-time syncing. As soon as you add a file to the main folder, it is synced with the online server.   However, you will have to manually connect the external hard drive and then choose the files you want to copy to it. Dropbox is one such service that provides real-time syncing. You only have to save the file in the local Dropbox folder on your computer and it will be synced as soon as you connect to the internet. This way, your data is safer and more secure.

No Hardware

You don’t have to procure any additional hardware for getting online storage to create a backup for your data. You either have to download the software on your computer or run it through your browser. That aside, if you choose to use an external hard drive, you have to carry it with you if you think that you will need to retrieve any data from it. If you forget it, you may have to travel back home or to your office just to retrieve it. Yet by choosing cloud storage, your data will be saved online, so you can access it from any device using the interface.


Continuing from the previous point, online storage offers greater accessibility. Multiple users can access the online server and get the files they need. Conversely, external hard drives can only be connected to one computer at a time, limiting its usability. This makes file sharing and access difficult. So, when it comes to accessibility, online storage is a far better option.


Last, but not the least, backing up your data online is a far securer option than saving it on an external hard drive. For one, your data is saved on a remote server, so the chances of data loss are minimal. Besides, there’s a lower risk of human error is less too.

Moreover, online storage services often create a second backup of your data. This way, even if the first backup is lost, you will still have your data intact. Comparing this to external hard drives, there is no doubt which option offers better data backup.

As you can see, online storage is far superior to external hard drives. Now this doesn’t mean that external hard drives are worthless; but comparing the features of the two and keeping the factors listed here in mind, there is little doubt that your data is much safer when saved online.

So, rather than spending a considerable sum on an external hard drive, choose one of the top service providers around, including Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive. Rest assured that their offerings will promise you value for your money.

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