As wonderful as our Macs might be, there are limits on how much we can put in them. When that happens, Mac users are faced with a choice when it comes to data storage: would it better to backup your files to the cloud, or just get yourself an external hard drive?
Each approach has its merits merits, and it will ultimately be up to you to decide which ones are can suit your needs better. Here’s a brief background on the two different types and the advantages that come with using each one.
Hard drives: hello, tiny box
External hard drives are the final word in offline storage: portable, durable, and available in different sizes (both in memory and physical features). In addition to that, hard drives often fulfill more than just their purpose of being an offline file storage device: in the event of your Mac crashing, they can be used to reboot and reinstall your entire system if needed.
The primary advantage of an external hard drive is how simple it is: the more space you need, the bigger the capacity of the hard drive should be, so the bigger you’ll need to pay. Plug, save, and unplug - the user interface is practically non-existent, and can be treated as just moving it into another folder on your Mac.
It’s versatile for the needs of the user as well: students may optimise hard drives for documents and projects, while a videographer can bring one with them in order to save the day’s shoots in something else. The catch: as a physical object, if your hard drive gets damaged, your data will be lost as well - unless you’ve saved it somewhere else.
Personal recommendation: Seagate
Cloud: welcome to the online vault
On the other hand, cloud storage forgoes this physical storage in favor of the more recent online storage capabilities that are being developed by companies around the world. This approach reduces reliance on the physical system of a hard drive, instead opting for a synchronisation between your computer, and a server online that backs up your data.
The biggest draw to this is that you don’t need to worry about your physical hard drive being damaged or degrading over time. Cloud storage also comes with encryption security features that far surpass what’s available on external hard drives, as well as other features like auto sync that works for you when it comes to regularly backing up your data. The innate disadvantage of this approach is that if you don’t regularly connect to the internet, it doesn’t work as well.
Personal recommendations: file storage sites such as Dropbox.
So what should you choose?
In a nutshell, both. Each storage system comes with its own unique advantages and disadvantages, but is flexible enough for you to work with, depending on what you need. Knowing what each method has to offer is the key to best deciding what you, as a Mac user, will need in the situation that you’ll need more space.