- the DIY approach: you can get a screwdriver out and either add a new hard drive inside your computer or install a hard drive in an enclosure; or
- the easy way out: choose an external hard drive like the ones in these tests.
Speeds: 30 MBps over USB, and up to 80 MBps over eSATA
Speeds have also been improving, mostly because of the growing popularity of two connections that used to be reserved for professionals: FireWire and eSATA. Some of the disks we tested reached speeds of 80 MBps, meaning you'll only need a minute to copy the equivalent of an entire DVD: 4.5 GB. That effectively makes DVD burners seem useless—and they're a lot more expensive, too.
Checking how fast a hard drive can copy data is one thing, but it's not the only important factor. You should also consider how quiet the drive is, whether you like its design and how much power it consumes. We therefore measure noise levels, both with and without 'silent' mode (AAM) activated, when it's available, as well as energy consumption.
The LaCie Rikiki is an ultra-portable external hard drive. It ticks all the right boxes, with excellent performances, an impeccable-quality finish and a slim, lightweight design.
Best of the rest
Experts and Pros
LaCie Rugged Mini 1 TB
The Rugged Mini is a compact, fast and robust external hard drive. What more could you ask for?
Seagate GoFlex Desk 3 TB USB 3.0
The Seagate GoFlex Desk offers excellent data transfer speeds, partly thanks to the USB 3.0 interface. Over USB 3.0, it's one of the fastest external hard drives we've seen yet!
King of Connections
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro 750 GB
Although it's not quite a five-star model, the Seagate GoFlex Pro is a good external hard drive with fast data transfer speeds and a compact, easily transportable design. Plus, the drive's connection can be modified to suit your computer's interface.