Those vacation photos, your class work, your movie collection, documents and invoices that you have to have on hand … how important it is to have an updated backup! Making backup copies is your mattress to avoid upsets.
In this buying guide to make backup copies we review the main physical formats for your backups. If you are one of those who prefer the physical format or you simply want backup copies in the cloud but also on a drive, here you will find what you need to carry it out.
Hard drives are the quintessential devices to keep safe copies of our files. Now, in the market we will find different types of hard drives, not only in terms of storage volume, brands or price, but in formats and types.
The first question is which type to choose: HDD or SSD? Considering that the idea is to store a large volume of files, it is worth betting on mechanical hard drives for a matter of price: the GB of the HDD is notably cheaper than in the SSD . Another scenario would be if our computer had a scarce storage unit and we would require a hard disk to store programs and files to work on them. In that case, the speed of the SSDs makes these the most suitable.
From here, two formats appear depending on their size, the 2.5 ″ or 3.5 ″ HDDs . This classification gives us an intuitive idea that the former are more suitable for use in mobility than the latter, for example to move them from home to the office.
But it is also that 3.5 ″ HDDs reach higher storage volumes and usually require their own power to move them. So if our backups are bulky and / or we are going to leave them next to our team, they are an option to consider. If mobility is important, then better bet on the 2.5 ″.
Of course, taking into account that in the domestic sphere it is usually enough with less than 4GB of space (more or less the limit of the 2.5 ″ models), how comfortable it is to power through the USB cable itself and the offer In terms of models and prices, 2.5 ″ hard drives are an attractive backup option in this usage scenario.
From here, we will look at:
- Connection speed . It is difficult to find models that no longer include a USB 3.0 connection or later, but it is better to pay attention to this information, lest we be dealing with a veteran model. This speed allows the transfer of data at a decent speed and on the same level as modern computer ports.
- The read and write speed refers to the time required by the hard disk to copy files from the computer or vice versa. Be careful because many manufacturers offer top speeds, while the important thing is to have the average.
- Size, weight and overall design . Previously we have talked about the HDD classification based on size, specifically 2.5 versus 3.5 ″. The latter are desktop units and will hardly withstand movements, but with the most compact it is essential that they have a robust and textured surface, which allows them to avoid slipping and, in case of suffering them, to withstand the blow.
- HDD disks are the most indicated for backup because their price for storage is much cheaper than that of SSDs, but even within the same type there are also differences. What volume of storage do we need? What difference is there in price if we go to a higher volume?
- Although the computer or device usually has drivers to make the hard drive compatible and backup software, many manufacturers provide tools for backups and restoration , an alternative that may be easier to use.
- Any product purchased in the European Union enjoys a two-year warranty, although there are brands that offer an extended warranty and specific support against data loss.
Hard Drives – Featured Models
Toshiba Canvio Basics
According to our comparison, the Toshiba Canvio Basics (64.99 euros) is the best 2.5 ″ hard drive for reasons such as its high quality / price and the solvency when performing basic tasks .
With a simple but attractive design, due to its size and weight, it is comfortable to move and to be an HDD, it offers good and stable data transfer speed figures .
Of course, it comes without backup software , but that is not usually a problem, since Windows and macOS have their own tools.
WD My Passport
The silver in our comparison was taken by the WD My Passport (74 euros), another 2.5 ″ HDD stands out for its aesthetic options, but – and this is vital in such a device – also for details such as its legs, which improves grip if we leave it on a table.
On the sidelines, it does not disappoint in performance and comes with its own software to protect the content of the disk, make backup copies and even options to access the disk from the mobile.
LaCie Mobile Drive
With a lightweight design with an elegant and resistant aluminum casing, you can connect the LaCie Mobile Drive (74.99 euros) with computers through Thunderbolt 3, USB-C and USB 3.0 ports thanks to the included port and cables, something very useful if you have latest generation laptops. Thus, you take advantage of its ports and you can take it with you .
You can make backups with both your computer software and the LaCie Toolkit, their backup and duplication software .
Western Digital My Book
We make the leap to a complete desktop format with this Western Digital My Book (160 euros), an 8TB hard drive and 3.5 ″ form factor with this classic from a reference brand in the sector .
Despite its size, its design seeks to occupy the minimum and thanks to its legs you can leave it next to your computer discreetly vertically.
With this model you have plenty of space , a USB 3.0 port and the included WD Backup software to make automatic backups, although you can always pull the usual Mac or Windows programs. It also comes with hardware encryption and password protection
WD Elements Desktop
Another model of the same Western Digital is this Elements Desktop (179 euros), also 3.5 inches for desktop and with USB 3.0. Elegant design with a glossy surface with legs for better grip, backup and security software and versions from 1 to 14TB to offer great volume depending on what you need.
The Seagate Expansion Desktop (119 euros) is easy to use: just connect to the computer, to the power and ready. It comes without additional backup software, but you can use the ones on your computer. With USB 3.0 interface (3.2 Gen 1 (3.1 Gen 1)), use a SuperSpeed 3.0 port for connection
Although commercial clouds continue to gain popularity for the convenience of having everything at hand with an internet connection, there are those who bet on a NAS solution to have their own network storage service tailored to their needs , especially in the business environment. When choosing a NAS we will take into account:
- Depending on the brand chosen, we will find an operating system and consequently, different interfaces, platforms and compatible apps , some as interesting as the integrated copy managers, VPNs or the reproduction of content on TV. In this sense, it is worth taking a look at its characteristics on the manufacturer’s website.
QNAP manufacturer operating system
- A NAS is a computer and as such, it has a processor and RAM memory . Thus, we are interested in a model with powerful enough hardware to cope with this usage scenario in terms of speed and performance. Fortunately, backups are not particularly demanding tasks, so the starting point must be at least a CPU with four cores at 1.2 GHz or more and 512 MB of DDR4 memory, similar to that of a Raspberry Pi. which also serves us for this task.
- Supported capacity and number of bays . We are facing a more expensive and complete device than a hard drive, so when investing in a NAS you have to think in the medium and long term to estimate how much storage you will need to mount the relevant hard drives: 8 TB, 16 TB, 32 TB… the more bays, space to mount disks and therefore potential for more capacity
- Although there are NAS that come with hard drives inside, generally we will have to buy them separately. And if we buy a quality NAS, it is better to bet on hard drives that perform at their level in terms of capacity as well as reading and writing speed.
NAS: Featured Models
My Cloud Home
No, it is not a NAS, the WD My Cloud Home (159 euros) is a network connected hard drive oriented to the home environment, a more affordable and easy to configure and use solution that brings the experience of a NAS closer to users less advanced.
In this sense, it also has limitations, as is the case of the available space: unlike the NAS to use, where we will have to buy the hard drives we need, in this case it comes with an integrated hard drive , so make sure it has the space you need.
QNAP is one of the most prominent brands in the sector and its TS-230 (176 euros) is a very successful solution for a domestic setting due to its simplicity.
This is a compact entry-level NAS that offers security options and a complete interface through the myQNAPcloud service, which allows you to easily access, manage and share files on the internet, such as our own backups.
Synology Diskstation DS218
Another brand with a great reputation for the quality of its NAS, especially if we are looking for a business solution, is Synology. With this Diskstation DS218 (289 euros) we have a versatile NAS with two bays that integrates powerful hardware even to use it as a multimedia server for 4K content.
Features File Station, an easy and comprehensive integrated tool for managing and sharing files, with optimized real-time synchronization
For the topic at hand, it provides a simple and effective solution for backups for computers and mobile devices with protection.
Synology DiskStation DS420j
If our needs are more ambitious, the Synology DiskStation DS420j (348 euros) is an option that we analyzed at the beginning of the year. It is a home NAS with 4 bays that can manage up to 64 TB of information efficiently with a quad-core processor and a transfer rate of 112 MB / s.
As in the previous model, it comes with a careful and complete software, which will allow us to use it both for backup copies and for photo and video streaming services.
Qnap TS-431K NAS
The Qnap TS-431K NAS (319 euros) is equipped with a 1.7 GHz quad-core processor and 4-bay storage space . It features a minimalist design, with easy-access lockable trays.
The TS-431K includes local and cloud backup functions , as well as a snapshot technology, achieving a very complete backup strategy, making it very interesting for professional use.
My Cloud Expert Series EX4100
WD also has more powerful and complete solutions such as this My Cloud Expert Series EX4100 (335 euros) with a complete software pack for its management such as the application to access from anywhere, My Cloud OS 3 and compatibility with third-party applications such as Plex, WordPress or Dropbox.
For backups, it includes the WD SmartWare Pro program , which even allows you to automatically back up your data to another device or to another cloud.
The insertion of hard drives is the simplest thanks to its design and it comes preconfigured to be able to start it up in a few minutes, although from the control panel we can customize it according to our needs, such as the RAID options, or layers of security.
Bonus: DIY with a Raspberry Pi
If you like technology projects and prefer to save a few euros and make a NAS yourself, you only need a Raspberry Pi, a storage unit and tools such as Pydio or OwnCloud.
Taking into account that the price difference with respect to the 3 is not “painful”, better to go for a Raspberry Pi 4B (46 euros) with 2GB of RAM and take advantage of its higher performance and its offer of ports, which you never know if the we will use for other projects.
An alternative to save backup copies of your computer is a USB memory, a storage unit inferior in performance to hard drives but cheaper. However, they can be enough in case your computer’s hard drive is scarce or you barely keep things on it.
In addition, USB memories can also be used to save “backup copies” of our mobiles or tablets . And it comes in quotes because if your device is Android, Google specifies that the backup as such goes to Drive. And if it is an iPhone, Apple does the same with iCloud.
What is possible is to make a partial (and generally) manual backup of certain content such as photos, videos and other files.
As with hard drives, we will look at their read and write speed (which in this case are usually lower than hard drives), the connection port to plug it directly and also that they offer a comfortable, light and robust design for take it from one place to another and withstand possible blows.
USB sticks: featured models
SanDisk Ultra Dual
Why have we chosen it? Because it has a USB-C socket to connect directly to tablets or smartphones (as well as computers) and, if we need it, save it on the computer through the same port or from the USB 3.1 port on the other side.
It also has an app (SanDisk Memory Zone, available for Google Play) that you can install to manage the content from the device to make backup copies of photos and videos. And something that never hurts: a robust design and a first-rate brand.
RAVPower USB Memory
With the RAVPower USB memory (39.99 euros) we can also connect it to the iPhone or iPad to make instant backups of photos, videos and other files, which you can manage with the iPlugmate app. Another option: use the USB port and save it on the computer. It also includes biometric security systems and password protection. MFi certified
SanDisk iXpand Base
If you have an iPhone, the SanDisk iXpand base (49 euros) is a two-in-one solution: on the one hand you have a place in the form of a robust and quality base to leave it charging up to 15W (yes, you have to put the cable ) and secondly, your photos, videos and contacts will be backed up by saving them to an SD card. It is complemented with an app to manage these partial backups and restore them.
Sandisk iXpand USB Flash Drive
Leaving the part of the load aside, the SanDisk iXpand is also available in the form of a USB memory (23.99 euros), with a USB 3.0 on one side and a Lightning port on the other, and the same app to manage it. It is available from 16GB to 256GB.