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Choose Smarter: Ten… USB 3.0 External Hard Drives

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Product Round-up Hard drives are still the most cost-effective way of adding extra storage capacity to a desktop or laptop. They are cheap to buy, easy to use and remarkably robust in service.

Solid-state drives may be quicker, but while the prices of hard drives continue to fall, their capacity goes on climbing, so the overall cost per gigabyte is quickly getting lower and lower.

Here are ten external drives based on the USB 3 high-speed connectivity standard all ready for data transfer, archiving and back-up duties.

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme

RH Numbers

This is a smallish but surprisingly heavy unit at 230g. But with a whopping 1TB drive and a shock-resistant casing it was never going to be a featherweight. Buffalo quotes a survivable drop height of up to 2.3m, which if true is impressive.

The unit's wraparound cable is a neat piece of design, the cord tucking neatly out of the way when it is not being used. Of course that means it is a bit on the short side, so Buffalo kindly bundles in an extension lead.

Like most Buffalo devices, the MiniStation Extreme comes with all the utilities Buffalo think you will need to get started: backup, Ramdisk for creating a virtual hard disk, and TurboPC for faster file transfers, file encryption and power management.

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme

Reg Rating 85%
Price £79 (500GB), £111 (1TB)
More info Buffalo

Buffalo MiniStation Stealth

RH Numbers

This compact, no-frills drive comes in a choice of fingerprint-attracting black or plain white finishes and is backed by a two-year warranty.

Buffalo bundles some programs under the Buffalo Tools banner to help you move data around: SecureLock for encrypting your data; Ramdisk; Eco Manager, a power management utility; and TurboPC for increased file transfer speeds. 
It is a competitively priced drive, but it is also the slowest performing model in this group.

Buffalo MiniStation Stealth

Reg Rating 65%
Price £76 (500GB), £84 (1TB), £131 (1.5TB)
More info Buffalo

Freecom Mobile Drive Sq

RH Numbers

Proving that external hard drives don’t have to be boring lumps of plastic, the Mobile Sq is a stylishly slim (10mm) drive. Its award-winning square design with stainless steel sandblasted finish certainly makes it look the part beside your notebook or Ultrabook.

Nero’s useful BackitUp and Burn software is bundled with the drive.

While it is a lovely looking piece of kit, you are certainly paying for those looks. The 1TB version here is £40 dearer than the 1TB Buffalo MiniStation Extreme, for example.

Freecom Mobile Drive Sq

Reg Rating 75%
Price £105 (500GB) £160 (1TB)
More info Freecom

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