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External Hard Drives vs Online File Storage

Updated on August 06, 2010

File storage has always been an issue for people like me. I love music and videos. I can never have enough space on my hard drive to store all of my data. After buying a laptop with 500 GB of disk space, I quickly realized that I needed more. So I bought a Maxtor 500 GB external hard drive. External hard drives are much cheaper today than they were 5 years ago. I could have opted for the 1 TB version but weighing in cost per GB of storage, 500 GB was the right choice for me.

After backing up data from my old computer and reformatting my hard drive, I realized how little 500 GB was. I needed more. The need for more storage made me look for other alternatives. I was in the market for an online file storage website. After doing some homework on many different online backup sites, I settled down with Hotfile. Before I send you over to them, let's look at the pros and cons of external hard drives and online file storage.

External Hard Drives

External hard drives are very populate because they offer tons of storage at a cost effective price. You can easily purchase a 500 GB external hard drive for less than $.25(a quarter) per GB. This is very cheap. They are also fairly portable. They usually connect to your computer's USB drive and plug into a power outlet and they are good to go. External USB hard drives are slightly different. They are self powered by the USB and are more expensive per GB than their standard external hard drive counterparts.

Despite being fairly cheap, external hard drives do have drawbacks. The obvious drawback is physical space. The nature of external drives means it has to share workspace with your computer. Whether it is besides your monitor or next to your desktop, it takes up a fair amount of real estate. Call me fickle but I think I speak for most people when I say a USB pen drive is the most I want hanging off my laptop. Having my external hard drive powers on is like having a cancer leeching off my machine. Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh but if you are a neat freak like me, you know how I feel!

Another drawback that you will not notice at first is the storage limitations. Sooner or later, you will notice your hard drive filling up fast. If you are like me, you have tons of music and videos. They take up LOTS of room! Especially if your videos are in high definition.

Online File Storage

My search for more storage brought me online. More specifically, online file storage sites such as Megaupload and Hotfile. After doing my homework, I decided to take my business with Hotfile.

After I joined Hotfile and paid my $55 fee for a full year, I was good to go. Before I joined, I weighed in the pros and cons. For $55, I have my own online hard drive with unlimited storage for the year! This was half the cost of my external hard drive. I could even make some money with Hotfile. The benefits of an online file hosting site is flexibility. I could be anywhere with internet and have access to all my stored files. I could be using a friend's computer and have all my files ready to download. This brings me to the downside. Bandwidth.

A drawback of online file storage is bandwidth. In order to store your files, you must upload them to the server and to retrieve them, you must re-download them. I can see how some people may have a problem with this but I live in the city and fortunately for me, broadband internet access is plentiful. If I have to upload many GB of data at a time, I will just open with my FTP client, set the upload speed to comfortable rate, and leave it on. I can still enjoy full YouTube streams while uploading my files. It is very convenient! You can upload multiple files with FTP. It is so much easier than the standard uploader.

Lost data is a concern for me. Who knows if there is a storm that might flood their data centers and all my files would be lost. Then again, I've lost more files "accidentally" reformatting my external hard drive and pulling the plug while transferring to my external hard drive than I have with Hotfile.


You may have the piece of mind that your data is safe on your external hard drive but sometimes it is a better idea to move your files online. In conclusion, there is no clear winner. I still use both my external hard drive and my online file storage. Right now, I am really happy I signed up for a premium Hotfile account! You should too! Money well spent!


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    • save my system profile image

      save my system 6 years ago from United Kingdom - London

      I go for online storage, conducting regular backups is one of those things everybody recommends, but few people actually tends to do it on regular basis. However, online file storage is safe and password protected as well.

    • Set's All Set profile image

      Set's All Set 6 years ago from New England

      You are right. Doing online backups is as tedious as running antivirus. However in lots of cases, I would queue up an entire folder like my video and my music folder. I do this about every month or when I feel I need to back up.

      Thanks for the comment save my system!

    • profile image

      Henry 5 years ago

      Needless to say online back up is very convenient and reliable. I recommend Iozeta unlimited online back up.

    • Jester98 profile image

      Jester98 5 years ago

      Online is awesome depending on how much space u need. My set up is desktop 1 terabyte hd. I use a external LaCie with a raid that backs it uP. works great and I feel safe.

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