College Services

Tech Buyer's Guide: Storage Devices & Media

External had drives are the fastest and most reliable option for saving and transporting your files. They offer fast data transfer, large capacities, and the ability to work directly on files when the drive is connected to a computer. All students need an external hard drive — incoming freshmen will use the drive to back up the files on their computer. Returning students will use them to save their work as they use computers in the classsrooms and labs.

External Hard Drives

There are two main types of external drives -- portable or desktop.

  • Portable drives are pocket-sized units, well-suited for carrying to class as your primary storage device. These drives often require no external power supply, and are available in a variety of capacities up to 1 TB. We strongly recommend selecting a drive that offers both Firewire and USB connections. Although a bit more expensive than a USB -only drive, if one interface fails you may still be able to access your files with the other connection.

Verbatim SureFire Portable DriveLaCie Rugged Portable Drive

Verbatim SureFire & LaCie Rugged Firewire+USB Portable Drives


  • Desktop drives offer better performance and larger capacities but are not as small and require an external power supply, making them much more cumbersome to use on the go. This is a good choice as a backup drive that does not need to be transported. Anyone doing video capture or other disk-intensive operations may need the higher performance possible with a desktop drive.
    Again, we recommend that you look for a drive that includes both Firewire 800 and USB 2.0 interfaces. This may add a few dollars to the purchase price of the drive, but will provide the best of both worlds—a faster connection (FW800) plus another way to access your data if one type of port fails.

Verbatim Firewire + USB Desktop DriveLaCie Quadra Desktop Drive

Verbatim & LaCie Quadra Firewire+USB Desktop Drives

USB Flash Memory Devices

USB Flash Memory devices plug into the USB ports of both Mac and Windows computers. Small enough to clip on a keychain, with no moving parts, these work great for copying documents and transferring files to or from a computer. Don't save files directly to these, though, or you will run into problems. Different capacities are available; find one that holds 1 to 4 GB or more.

DVD Media

Although you cannot save files directly to optical discs they work very well for making backups of your important data. DVD-R or DVD+R discs can store up to 4.2 GB of data on each disc. The newer dual-layer DVD drives can save up to 8.5 GB of data on DVD+R DL media.

Information Technology Contact: 614.222.6174

August 6, 2015