The different types of portable hard drives

The different types of portable hard drives

Portable hard drives are ideal for transferring data or as a backup destination. Unfortunately, there are many different options if you are in the market for one. Here are some of the option you could expect to find:


These are the smallest portable hard drives, regarding size. The enclosure contains 2.5” hard disk drives powered using the USB port. Due to the smaller size, the amount of storage is limited with current generation drives topping out at 2TB.


These are enclosures with 3.5” hard drives, similar to what you would find on a regular desktop computer. These drives are louder and consume more power than the 2.5” versions. These larger drives consume more power and require two USB ports or an external power adaptor. Unlike the smaller drives, the storage limited by the largest available hard drive, which at the time of writing is 6TB.


There are portable storage enclosures that contain more than one drive for additional storage. In order ensure portability, these enclosures contain slots for a maximum of three drives. Since they use external power, these can be as large as 6TB each, providing a maximum storage capacity of 18TB, or 12TB with allowance for a single drive failure.

Selection of the above options depends on two factors: storage requirement and power. For larger volumes, powered storage is the only option. If there is no external power, then either a single or dual USB-powered drive is the best option.