Online Storage vs External Hard Drives

Thousands of years ago the method of transferring and storing data took place in the form of stories and songs passed down from one generation to the next. Eventually we found a way to record our data in written form by hand, store the information on paper, and whose language could be taught from one person to another and the text itself could be copied by hand for others to use. In the 1400’s a man by the name of Johannes Gutenberg invented the first movable type printing press which established a method of recording and creating copies of data at a rate that had never been experienced before. Ideas printed off the Gutenberg press spread across Europe like wildfire and helped to move the human race forward to shared knowledge and overall enlightenment.

Data storage has come a long way since human kind’s early days of only storing data in memory and transferring it through song and story. The human race is at the paradigm shift of yet another method of data storage that has been a long time coming: Online storage. Being that data can be easily digitized we can now transfer it with ease from one computer’s hard drive to the next, the computer doing all the remembering and transferring for us and leaving us with only having to remember the language and how to operate a computer. Nonetheless, online storage offers a much more reliable and useful method of data storage that a hard drive does not.


Hard drives are heavy and require a decent amount of your computers resources to operate. If you have an external hard drive and wanted to bring your data with you somewhere, you would have to carry your hard drive around and risk it breaking and you losing all of your data. It is a common phrase in investing that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, and saving your life’s data on a single hard drive that is vulnerable to the elements is doing just that. See our 3 types of hard drives review.

Online storage offers secure servers to house your data that can be accessed whenever it is needed and from wherever you have a computer with internet access. It is the equivalent to a virtual desktop in the cloud that you can access whenever you need it, and if you are working as the member of a team, you and your teammates can keep all of the project’s information up to date without the trouble of sending emails back and forth and wasting time having each member of the team update their aspect of the project whenever new information comes in.


A 1 terabyte external hard drive costs around $100 whether or not you actually use it all, but, as mentioned earlier, you also nonetheless have to factor in how much the risk costs you in storing all of your data in one place. For example, if you are working on a project based off a contract you have with a client that is worth x dollars to your business, you have to multiply the amount the client is worth to you by the probability of a hard drive crashing – and if you pay a visit to the review section of Amazon on external hard drives, you will find that a decent percentage of users of even the most reputable external hard drives have had theirs crash, losing all of the valuable information contained within for good.

Online storage companies charge you for exactly the amount of storage you need, and work around the clock to make sure your data is stored securely and that the risk of loss is to as much of a minimum as possible. The risk of loss still exists, but the percentage risk is negligible and can let you sleep at night knowing that your valuable data is being protected in the best way possible.

This is a guest post submitted by Eric Greenwood. He is a technophile whose interests span the range of data management, online storage, business intelligence and much more – Read more of his work at the blog Online Storage!

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Digital Poet at BurnWorld Inc.

I am the Team Leader here at BurnWorld. I am an audio/video enthusiast and have been in this industry for over 10 years. I love testing DVD/Blu-Ray and Video software.

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  • Susan says:

    I actually think the key is redundancy. I would never put all of my backup only in an online system since there are vulnerabilities even there, which includes when the cloud goes down (which happens quite often), some security risks, and even those businesses can disappear. I think that backups should live both on hard drives and online. And there should be more than one backup (I speak from experience).

    • Software Babe says:

      I must agree with Susan. I do not use the Cloud for anything because of insecurities. Lately, there has been talk about the govt being able to monitor everything you do online, including what you backup and store (emails, data, etc). I do not like that possibility and therefore I keep everything backed up via hard drives that are very carefully stored. IF the hard drive is not constantly written to, let’s say if you make monthly backups only and then store it, it will last for quite a few years. I store mine in HD storage cases in a cool, dry, and dark place. I have several drive docks I use to sync my data from my desktop to the external drives. I just do not trust the Cloud, except for maybe Carbonite, which believes in smaller and a non-intrusive govt. THEY would be the only way and reason I would store my data on the Cloud.

  • Dentist Philadelphia says:

    We use online backups but I just feel like there is no completely replacing external hard drives. I agree with Susan, our sensitive information just feels vulnerable online but I can have complete control over who touches the hard drives.

  • Eric Greenwood says:

    @Susan – That’s a great point – Diversifying is a tried and true risk management technique which can most definitely apply to where and how we store our data – The more locations the less likely it is to be lost.

    The interesting variable that would need to be hedged against is that diversifying decreases the risk of data loss, but increases the risk of data being stolen! So security is definitely one of the biggest issues facing online data storage.

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