10 facts about having external hard drives in college

having external hard drives in college is a good idea? or there is another thing better?

in this article, we’re going to discover 13 facts that most students don’t know about having hard drives in college.

Is great to have backup especially for

external hard drives are great for college students to help them store their files or data, especially for these 3 activities that consume a lot of space like:

  • videos
  • photos
  • games

students take a lot of lectures college pictures today because most of them use this strategy instead of printing costly paper. To clarify students use their tablets or phones to scan documents.

This takes space because the average that a single smartphone picture takes today is 2 Mb and gets higher for more advanced phones. It is not like it was before where students were taking 10 pictures for only 1Mb.

The huge thing that makes students need external hard drives is filming videos. To clarify, many college students are filming lectures so we can imagine how much that is memory-consuming.

For instance, filming a 1-hour lecture video consumes 700 MB of memory, So students can imagine how much videos are memory-consuming.

College students can fill quickly 1TB of storage for scanning documents and filming videos. Because there are a lot of lectures to record or download from the internet.


External hard drives today are very portable they only weigh between 40 to 60g. That is to say, the story of having a heavier external hard drive is dying.

Before the apparition of SSD hard drives, college students were caring heavier HHD hard drives that reach up to 1kg of weight. That is to say like holding a laptop in your backpack.

it was useless to carry these hard drives, especially for students who aren’t allowed to use backpacks.

These days external drives are pocket size, which means college students can put them in their pocket along with their phones. So they became very portable.

it is useful in some emergency cases for college students

in emergency case external drives can be useful and save life students, lets take a very sensitive example:

For Ph.D. students having an external hard drive is an obligation. To clarify storing all the Ph.D. thesis and essays without making a security backup like external hard drives or cloud services is very dangerous.

we heard many Ph.D. case stories who have lost their all work in computer, that could be for many reasons:

  • the laptop has been stolen
  • computers crashed
  • all data has been deleted suddenly
  • drop the water accidentally on the computer and so on

many tragedies college students can face. So in these cases, they pay thousands of dollars to recover their data, and sometimes they wait for weeks to discover finally if they can recover their files or not.

So for sensitive cases, college students have to use external drives to make at least one copy of their work.

hard driver are better than cloud services

using could service storage as a student is a good idea but what about its efficiency?

According to all connect America doesn’t have the fastest internet connection in the world as you might expect as a student. Moreover, it doesn’t even belong to the 10 fast internet connection countries in the world.

America is in a 13 position so that won’t be helpful for college students. To clarify as an American student you can only upload your files with an average speed of 74 Mbps.

That is to say, you won’t be able to exceed 250 GB of upload per hour. That is to say, you have to wait for 1 hour to store 250 GB in a Cloud as an American college student.

but as a college student, you will never get this number especially if you live in a dorm, this number is only for rich students who have premium internet subscriptions.

But external hard drives allow you to save or transfer 500 Mbps which is almost 7 times bigger. In other words, you can transfer 3 GB per minute and 1.8 TB per hour

is necessary today with theses new laptops generations

with the apparition of SSD technology, the data transfer and storage speed of laptops has increased but the downside of this technology is still expensive and not affordable for any college student.

Were going to talk later about the external hard driver process.

but we can notice today that laptops or computers come with short storage. In other words, the standard laptop versions like:

  • MacBook air
  • MacBook pro
  • hp
  • Thinkpad
  • surface pro
  • dell

All of them come with lower standard storage which is between 256GB Or 512GB.

So why the oldest versions of laptops had 1TB or even more when the newest computer versions come will less storage?.

The answer is the oldest laptops and computers had HHD drives which is old technology, while the newest ones have SSD storage technology which fasts 10 times more. But unfortunately expensive 10 times also.

So the only way to keep competitive laptop prices is to lower the volume of storage which we can see today.

So for college students who have 256GB or 512GB laptops, it will be probably not enough and the external hard drive is the better solution to opt for.

Good hard drives are expensive But

good and fast external hard drives are expensive, to clarify 1 TB of storage costs between $100 to $150. While 2 Tb price is between $200 to $250. But regarding that, is still economic for college students.

To explain more, good and powerful laptops for college students don’t exceed 512GB as standard storage. So for example, if you have a laptop like a MacBook, Thinkpad, dell, or hp the cost of upgrading from 256 GB to 512 GB or even more is much more expensive.

For example, if you only want to add 256 GB of storage to your laptop you have to spend $200 on average.

$200 is enough to bring you an external 2 TB SSD driver which is 4 times cheaper than making any laptop upgrade.

To give additional information we made competition test laptops between:

  • Macbook
  • Thinkpad
  • Dell
  • Hp
  • Microsoft surface

and this is the winning laptop for college students that we found you could explore this test for more information.

it is necessary today for college students who take a lot of photos and videos with their phones

for students who love to take a lot of pictures or make videos having external hard drives is a must. Most College students photographers or video makers make this 2 step strategy.

  • Step 1 They store photos and edit video in an external SSD hard dirver
  • Step 2 They transfer the all SSD stored image of video content in HDD cheaper drives

==> Step 1

As the first step student take their SSD 2 TB portable external hard drives with them to college, as we said they are pocket size. So they can take photos or film videos without any issue.

Then transfer the all content stored in their phones or cameras to the external SSD driver, the operation is fast and takes a few minutes.

== >Step 2

Once The SSD hard driver storage saturates or gets finished, they transform all their data to cheaper HHD external drives. The data transfer time is not important because they have the flexibility to choose the right time for that

This method allows them to always manage heavier content with a lower budget instead of buying expensive laptops or expensive larger SSD external drives.

hard drives are important for computer science students

External hard drives are important for computers since students it is like having your small pocket computer.

To clarify as a computer science student you can install in your hard drive multiple operating systems like:

  • windows
  • Linux
  • running virtual machines

computer science students can plug an external driver and run or bootCamp to different operating systems like Linux. It is a great idea for students to not slow their laptops by installing the new operating system.

college students have to prevent these hard drives type

college students who are interested to buy external drives have to buy an SSD external driver not HDD ones because SSD external drives are:

  • 10 times faster to transfer data
  • 20 faster to read data
  • 5 times smaller
  • 10 times lighter

But for college students who have lower budgets, the best strategy is to buy 1 TB external SSD and an HDD external driver along.

college students can install or play video games

if you love to play video an external hard drive can do the job, especially the SSD one is faster. For instance, you can play heavier games like PUBG or GTA with your external drive.

this can be soo helpful for students who have old laptops that have HDD storage, this creates a significant difference.

But for students who have an SSD hard driver, an external SSD hard drive will be less powerful, for example:

It will take 3 times more to update or load a game as a difference between an SSD static drive (the one installed in your computer) and an external one.


using an external drive as a college student is so important and still not enough for some students. So the best strategy for students who have sensitive informations is to use external drives and pay for some could service like dropbox

Because there is no guarantee to keep an external drive safe from being stolen or broken.


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.