A corrupted hard drive is the stuff of nightmares for any photographer. So ask yourself – how solid is your back-up routine? And would you be able to recover your files in the worst-case scenario? If you don’t already do it, it’s a really good idea to back up on three separate hard drives and store one of these drives away from home, to cover possible fire or theft. Just remember to back up your images on all three drives, especially after any big shoots. If all of this is making you think that maybe you should get another hard drive, here are five top-value models to get you started. Some even have bonus features like a tough build or wireless functionality. Let’s see how they perform...
1. WD My Passport Ultra 1TB
The My Passport Ultra is available in sizes from 500GB to 2TB, and comes with a low-profile, shock-tolerant housing.
The casing of the 1TB version is just 15.8mm deep, so easily slips in a pocket, making this a very portable option. It comes with WD SmartWare Pro software, which allows you to back up automatically to your computer or to the Cloud, while WD Security lets you password-encrypt the drive to keep your files safe. The USB 3.0 port is said to be up to three times faster than USB 2.0 (up to 5GB/s), and is backwards compatible with Micro USB 2.0 cables. The My Passport Ultra gets all of its power from the USB cable, meaning you don’t need an additional cable to power it. This drive offers great value, with the 1TB model costing just £0.05 per gigabyte. USB 3.0 compatibility makes it speedy, it’s super portable and it comes with some very handy software.
Size (WxHxD): 82x111x15mm
2. LaCie Rugged Mini 1TB
LaCie’s Rugged hard drives are easy to recognise, as they come housed in an orange removable surround.
Along with making the drive easy to spot in your bag, this surround adds a good level of protection. LaCie claims that the 1TB Mini can withstand a drop from a height of 4ft (when the drive is not in operation). This makes it one to strongly consider if you’re constantly shooting outdoors or are accident prone. The Rugged Mini range is available in sizes between 500GB and 4TB. The 1TB version costs £85, which works out at £0.09 per gigabyte. The £189 4TB model works out a little better value, costing £0.05 per gigabyte. Like the My Passport Ultra, the drive is completely powered by the USB, so you just need the one cable to get going. It’s compatible with USB 3.0 and has a maximum read and write speed of 130MB/s.
Size (WxHxD): 86x135x26mm
3. WD My Book 4TB
Portability may not be the My Book’s strong suit – it’s bulky, measuring 139x171x49mm.
It needs an extra power cable to operate too, so it’s at its best stationed beside a desktop computer. But it’s good value. Available in 2-8TB varieties, the 4TB option we looked at costs £115 – that’s just 3p per gigabyte. It has a USB 3.0 port, which is backwards compatible with Micro USB 2.0 cables and a security lock can be attached to the back too. It has password protection and 256 AES encryption to keep your data safe. There’s also an auto-unlock option to save time when you’re logged into your main computer. You can even customise how you back up your files, using the included WD Backup software. There’s the option to choose between file-system and system-level options, as well as set the frequency of the back-up. It also boasts easy file recovery for lost data.
Size (WxHxD): 139x171x49mm
4. SanDisk Extreme 900 SSD 960GB
Costing £0.42 per gigabyte, the Extreme 900 doesn’t come cheap.
So why is it so expensive? Well, it’s because it’s a Solid State Drive (SSD). This is different to a conventional Hard Disk Drive (HDD), as there are no moving parts inside, making it more reliable with much less chance of it failing. Solid State Drives are typically quicker to boot up and transfer data too. SanDisk claims the Extreme 900 is 9x faster than a typical HDD, with read and write speeds topping out at 850MB/s. It comes in 480GB, 960GB and 1.92TB varieties, all of which are protected by a temperature- and impact-resistant shell. It has a USB 3.1 interface for connecting to a computer and features password protection as well as encryption to keep your files and photos safe. If you’re after speed and reliability, portable storage doesn’t get much better than SanDisk’s Extreme 900, but you’ll have to fork out a small fortune for it.
Size (WxHxD): 83x133x18mm
5. Seagate Wireless Plus Mobile 2TB
At first glance this slender Seagate portable hard drive looks like any other, but it comes with wireless functionality.
This allows for on-the-go back-up and the streaming of content such as music and movies from the drive to a smart device, through the Seagate Media app. This could be ideal for those needing extra space when out on a shoot, or for reviewing images on a bigger screen straight away. You can also sync the files with Dropbox or Google Drive. Included in the box is a wall charger, with Seagate claiming a battery life of 10 hours from a full charge. If you prefer to use the drive more traditionally, the Wireless Plus Mobile hosts a USB 3.0 port. This can be used to transfer files to a computer and as the device is USB powered you don’t need an additional power cable to operate it. The wireless feature could be very useful, but you do pay a premium for it.
Size (WxHxD): 89x127x21mm