Last Updated on December 17, 2021
Archiving is one of the major tenets of data retention and preservation. If you are someone who generates or stores a lot of data, you generally have to delete the old stuff in order to make room for the newer data.
However, if somewhere down the road you feel like you may need some older files, or if the nature of your work demands you keep backups of previous data, then the best way is to have them preserved is in an archive.
To do this, the first step is to invest in the right hard drive. To discover the best hard drives for archiving, read on.
The best part about archiving is that the hard drives do not have to be expensive. You don’t necessarily need a high speed SSD or a drive with a very high MTBF (mean time between failure) rating since archival hard drives are stowed away and not used continuously.
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Best HDD for Archiving Comparison
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1. WD My Book – Best External Hard Drive for Archiving
Recommended 3.5″ desktop external hard drive for archiving. Very affordable.
As mentioned earlier, the beauty about getting a hard drive to merely store data for long term is that it does not have to be expensive. What you need is reliability and affordability.
Since an archival hard drive is not intended to be continuously, you don’t have to invest in a top of the line drive, unless, you access it back and forth quite often.
So if you want a simple external drive with a large capacity for storing data for a long time, then we highly recommend this as the best hard drive for archiving.
This is a basically a 3.5″ Desktop external hard drive. If you are looking for affordability, then this is best hard drive for archiving.
One caveat here is that since it is large, it requires a dedicated power source. Hence, this isn’t entirely a portable hard drive, but portability isn’t required by many users for simple data archiving.
The drive also comes with WD backup software as well as Apple Time Machine support that can allow you to setup back up schedules.
2. Seagate Desktop External HDD – Most Affordable External Archiving Hard Disk
Among the most affordable external HDD out there.
We already established that you do not need to spend way too much on a hard drive that will not be used often as is the case with archiving.
All you need is a reliable model from an established brand. This particular external HDD is what we recommend if you are trying to save up as much as possible.
The sheer number of reviews it has garnered is a testament to the popularity and reliability of this model by Seagate.
This hard drive is available in sizes ranging from 8TB – 16 TB. Like the WD My Book above, this too requires an external power source.
Unfortunately, while this hard drive does work with both Mac and Windows, it does not come with a proprietary back up software.
You can, however, use third party auto back up software or the Apple Time Machine if you are using Mac. Alternatively, you can also simply drag and drop the old fashioned way.
All in all, if you want affordability, then this is the best HDD for archiving.
3. Seagate Backup Plus Slim – Recommended Portable HDD For Archiving
Unlike the option above, this is a portable hard drive that you can carry around with you and use it for you archiving your data.
The beauty about smaller 2.5″ hard drives is that they can be stowed away easily and also they do not require an external power source to operate.
The large 3.5″ desktop external hard drives do require an external power source.
While a 2.5″ is more expensive than a 3.5″, the price difference is only marginal – if you take the per GB cost.
This particular model is one of the most popular options from Seagate as it comes with auto backup feature.
So if you are looking for a slimmer and portable option while maintaining a reasonable price tag, then this is the best hard drive for archiving in our opinion.
4. Seagate BarraCuda – Internal Hard Drive for Archiving
If you are looking for an internal hard drive for archiving, then we highly recommend this.
Whether you are building a simple NAS storage or just want to stick in a few extra TB of storage in your existing PC, this is a great option.
For starters, internal hard drives are generally better performing and more reliable since they have constant connection with the system via a fast SATA connection.
Internal storage also have much larger capacity at a more affordable price tag with better performance.
Also, since they are installed safely within a chassis, they are less prone to accidents and damage. There is also much less chance of losing or misplacing them.
And finally, it is easier to upgrade internal hard drives. You can easily increase the capacity by adding an other drive, given you have extra SATA ports on the motherboard.
If you are sold by the idea of having an internal hard drive and you want to go for a very popular option, then this is the best hard drive for archiving.
5. WD My Book Duo – Large Capacity with Raid Capability
A RAID optimized large storage external hard drive.
This large external hard drive contains two 3.5″ hard disks which can be configured in a variety of fashion thanks to its RAID capability.
Depending upon the configuration you choose, you can choose to have the drives optimized for speed with RAID 0, have redundancy with RAID 1 or use the two drives independently.
With the redundancy configuration, you can basically mirror one drive over to the other thus allowing you to have multiple instances of your archive.
This may come in handy for those who have very crucial information to store and cannot afford to have a single point of failure.
Other than that, the drive comes with a massive storage, has 256-bit AES hardware encryption and features the WD Red drives that are optimized for use in NAS systems.
All in all, if a single drive is not sufficient for your storage, then this is the best hard drive for archiving in our opinion.
6. LaCie STHR1000800 – Premium External SSD for Archiving
Premium high speed external NVMe SSD with a plethora of environment protection including 1p67 for safely archiving your data.
For a starters, this hard drive is an SSD. SSDs are not always the best choice for archiving since they are expensive, however, if you access your information often then this may come in handy.
Plus, this external SSD has plenty of environmental protection in case if you carry around your data with you a lot in your travels. It comes with a rugged rubberized case that offers not only good looks but also serves as a shock absorber.
Being an SSD means that data transfers is much faster compared to any HDD, including the 7200 rpm conventional hard disks. Its speeds can hit about 1050 MB/s. The best of the 7200 RPM disks reach at about 150 MB/s transfer speeds.
As such, this drive is multiple times faster than an HDD, but unfortunately it is also more expensive when you take the per Gigabyte price.
Speed is generally not the foremost important feature for those who save data and very rarely access the drive, but for those who backup their data very often, a fast drive can save you a lot of time.
The drive also protects your files from unauthorized access by encrypting them. Being IP67-rated water and dust resistant and also crash-resistant makes this drive great for archiving and adds to the reason behind its expensive price.
All in all, if you came here particularly looking for an SSD, we recommend this as the best hard drive for archiving as it comes with plenty of environmental protection.
How to Find the Right Hard Drive for Archiving?
When getting a new hard disk for archiving, there are a few issues that you’ll need to address. You’d want your files to be safe but you’d also want the processors to be efficient and affordable.
The following guide will help answer common queries.
Internal Vs External HDD for Archiving
An internal hard disk is one that’s inside your computer. You may decide to house the drive inside a computer for a few reasons including stable and faster connection using SATA, physical safety since they are fastened inside the chassis, and affordability.
An external hard drive, on the other hand, is one that isn’t inside a computer. It will need to have an enclosure though, one that has an interface that allows you to connect to the drive itself, and besides that, you may need to take personal care to keep it safe physically.
There are many types of external SSDs, but they all borrow their features from the HDD form factor:
- 3.5″ Desktop HDDs – These are large and require and external power source.
- 2.5″ Portable HDDs – These are smaller and do not require an external power source.
- SATA SSDs – These have slimmer than 2.5″ HDDs but are also faster with 4-5x the speeds at 550 MB/s.
- NVMe SSDs – These are the fastest and the most expensive external hard drives. They can top speed of upto 1050 MB/s.
Whichever option you choose to go with, in the end it will depend on how you intend to use it. Both have their benefits like an external drive is more portable whereas an internal one is much easier to access and is affordable.
Basically, if you move around a lot, then an external disk will make sense for archiving. Optionally, you may choose to make sure it is resistant to things like water damage or shocks. Certain external hard drive come with ruggedized exteriors with IP protection.
On the other hand, if you plan to archive your files and photos in a stationary storage, then an internal hard drive would be more feasible and cost effective.
Also Read: SSD vs HDD NAS
Is 3.5 Desktop HDD The Best Type of HDD for Archiving?
3.5″ Desktops external HDDs are basically 3.5″ internal HDDs inserted into an external enclosure.
What you get, thus, is a hard drive that is affordable, reliable and great for long term storage, backup or archiving.
They are generally regarded as the most suitable type for long term storage. They aren’t necessarily the fastest or the most portable out there, but they are perfectly suited for the job of data backup.
Reliability of SSD vs HDD for Long Term Storage
A hard drive has a disk that spins and an arm that moves across the disk during operation. All these moving parts can serve as a source of failure for your hard disk.
An SSD, on the other hand, has no moving parts. And in addition to that, it’s not affected by magnetism like a hard drive that uses magnetism to store data.
However, one of the biggest aspect that hinders SSD from being a reliable source of storing data is their volatility.
SSDs are flash storage. So if a data were to wipe out, it would be irretrievable. With Hard Disks, as long as the platter is intact, the data can be retrieved.
Also Read: Difference between SATA and SSD Drives
Once in a while, a hard disk can be exposed to high impact forces like drops or shocks. All these can lead to damages, especially when the shock is at a very high magnitude. To avoid this, and to ensure that the hard drive survives longer, it needs to be shockproof.
With a shock-proof drive, you can be sure that a minor fall will not cause too much damage.
Is Storing in HDD the Best Way to Archive
You have several mediums to archive your data. We covered a few points regarding this topic above, but lets recap along with an additional few.
1. CD/DVDs/Blu-Ray – Are they Viable for Data Archiving?
CDs are the good old fashioned way of archiving. Unfortunately, given the current demand and the amount of data one generates, they are very slow and thus not feasible.
They do have their application in certain professional cases, but if you have terabytes over terabytes of Data to store, archiving on CDs, managing them and keeping track of them would be a hassle.
2. Solid State Drives – Great But Volatile
As mentioned earlier, SSDs are fast, however, when it comes to data safety, they are not the best.
SSDs are volatile, meaning they store memory temporarily. Hence once the data is lost, it cannot be retrieved. So a smallest of mishap can lead to your data being lost permanently.
Hence for long term, these are not the most reliable.
However, for short term archiving and for backing up data often, these are great.
3. Hard Disk Drives – Reliable, Affordable and Safe
Hard disk drives are among the most recommended way to archive your data. They are affordable and you can have them in RAID configuration for mirror backup for quite cheap as well.
For instance if you have 2 hard disks, you can have them in RAID 1 configuration to clone the data on both drives.
Plus unlike with the SSDs, the data written on the disk platters is more or less permanent. With HDD as long as the disk platters are safe and if there is an electronic failure with the head, or a mechanical failure etc, your data would still be retrievable.
Hence not only are Hard Drives safer, they are also more efficient for large data and affordable compared to the rest.
4. Cloud Storage – Best but Expensive
One of the best ways to archive for non-sensitive data. However, given the cost involved, they are currently not a viable solution for most studios.
For those who are concerned about critical data being stored on the net for security reasons, Cloud is not the way to go.
Cloud storage can be used for certain redundancy scenario. For instance, you can save your best material on Cloud which you simply cannot afford to loose. Whereas at the same time you can use the hard drives for keeping the large data of raw files.
SSD vs HDD for Archiving Reliability
In this article we had a look at some of the best hard drives for archiving. It is worth noting that reliability is the key here. Therefore, you may need to look at the drive Mean Time Between Failure, its failure rate, and TeraByte of Data per year it can serve.
Other than that, choice between HDD and SSD also matters. For faster storage, SSD is the way to go. Furthermore, you need to gauge whether you need an external or an internal hard drive.
When you go for an external hard drive, you will need to make certain that it has safety features such as shock or water proofing etc.