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Hard Drives - External

External hard drives are ideal for backup or portable file storage, and these drives come in a large range of categories: some use desktop-sized 3.5in hard disks, other use smaller 2.5in drives, and faster products use SSDs. Most drives use USB 3, Thunderbolt or eSATA connections, and these drives can also come in different types of case – some are designed to be tiny, and others are ruggedised to stand up to dust, water and even fire.

Thunderbolt & USB External SSDs

External SSDs are ideal for users looking for lightweight, portable and speedy storage. Their pocket-friendly enclosures are significantly smaller and lighter than external hard drives, and with no moving parts they're also silent, more robust and less prone to physical shock damage. They use the USB 3 interface, which is 10 times faster than and backwards compatible with USB 2.

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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: SSDs USB 3.0

Direct Attached Storage / Enclosures

Direct Attached Storage or DAS is an external storage device that is connected directly to a server or workstation without a network device in between (ie there is no hub, switch or router required) using USB, Firewire or eSATA for example. This direct connection ensures fast access to data. A DAS will work as though the hard drives are internally connected, meaning drives can be partitioned, formatted and set up like any other internal hard drive or raid array. These DAS devices are available for standalone desk or rack mounting.
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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: Firewire DAS & NAS RAID

Enclosure (1.8"-2.5") - SATA - USB 3.0

Combining Super Speed USB 3.0 with a SATA hard drive interface results in an external hard drive with high data transfer rates. A 1.8" to 2.5" internal SATA hard drive fits into these enclosures. Power to these enclosures are either via the USB 3.0 connection or a separate power lead, check specifications of the individual product to confirm.
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Enclosure (3.5"-5.25") - SATA - USB 3.0

Combining Super Speed USB 3.0 with a SATA hard drive interface results in an external hard drive with high data transfer rates. A 3.5" internal SATA hard drive fits into these enclosures. Power to these enclosures are either via the USB 3.0 connection or a separate power lead, check specifications of the individual product to confirm.
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3 & 4 Drive Bay Desktop Network Attached Storage Systems

These medium-size NAS units hold three or four HDDs. Entry-level units are great for home users and prosumers with lots of HD media and other data that needs centralising, while more advanced units come with faster processors and more advanced security and RAID features for business and surveillance users. These units are not sold with hard disks so you'll need to add your own – it's best to get matching models and capacities, especially if you plan on using RAID.

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