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Friday, 10 August 2018 11:23

Choosing the Best Hard Drive

Written by Andrew Eldridge, Creative Director


One question that I’ve been asked countless times over the years by NewTV members is, “What kind of a hard drive should I buy?” Sometimes that’s a tough question to answer because there are so many variables.

Factors in Choosing a Hard Drive

What I’ll usually do is start with a few basic questions to figure out what the member’s needs are, starting with the type of projects they are going to have on the hard drive. Are they short-form or long-form projects? Important documentaries or quick turnaround lectures? This inevitably goes into the next question –how much space will they need for their projects? A good rule of thumb in 2018 is no less than 2TB. But, even if you have a few small projects, 2TB is actually not as much space as you’d think, especially if you film in 4K. The next factor to consider is the type of connection. There are various flavors of Thunderbolt and USB, not to mention eSATA, RAID arrays, and solid state drives. And finally, the ultimate deciding factor, how much do you want to spend on a hard drive?

So, there are a lot of things that need to be considered when purchasing a hard drive, and there is no one solution. I’m going to give you a few hard drives that I’ve had success with over the years.

4TB G-Tech USB 3.0 Hard Drive


For personal use at home, I have a 4TB G-Tech USB 3.0 hard drive that at the time I purchased for around $200. I believe that price has gone down, but I mostly use it for small projects and storing photos, music, and final videos. I have used it for editing small projects in 4K in the past, but I would not recommend this as a workhorse editing drive.

G-Tech 8TB G-Raid Hard Drive


For that, I’ll usually turn to a G-Tech (see a trend) 8TB G-Raid hard drive with a Thunderbolt connection. I like them so much that I have four of them on my desktop! They have been reliable and fast, even when using 4k footage that’s been manipulated with effects and color correction. They usually run a pretty penny though, at just shy of $500.

Field Hard Drives


There are two hard drives that I’ve been enjoying when I go on the road: the LaCie & G-Tech Rugged line of drives. These are hard drives that usually have a protective casing around them, and have some sort of shock or drop-resistant technology built into them. I’ve had good luck with the 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB varieties of these drives and have even dropped them before without any corruption of data. Mostly I use these drives to either backup my cards after a shoot or deliver a final project, but I have edited off of them before without any problems. Overall, I like the LaCies a bit more. The newer, rugged drives are definitely a bit more stable than the older ones I’ve used (I had a dud LaCie many years ago). The cost on those runs anywhere from $150-$300 depending on how much space you want on the drive.

Why Spend Extra on Hard Drives?

Now you might run through the pages on B&H and find that lovely Seagate drive that has 8TB with a USB 3.0 connection that is considerably less money and be like, “Why can’t I use this?” Well, there is a reason why those types of drives cost less. It’s because they are loud, or a bit slow, or have plastic casing, or the connections aren’t totally perfect, especially if you have to plug and unplug multiple times. When it comes to hard drives, you get what you pay for. As someone who has had many hard drives fail on him in the past, if it’s something worth purchasing, then it’s worth spending a few extra dollars to get something that is reliable. Because if you’ve spent countless hours working on something and your hard drive fails, it’s going to cost a lot more to get it recovered.

Note: This article pertains to external hard drives. Click here to read more about internal hard drives.

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