If you own a computer, be it a desktop, laptop, or netbook, an external hard drive is a must-have accessory. They’re great not only for providing extra storage space, but also for backing up your primary drive, moving large files between PCs, and archiving all your prized photos and videos.
Indeed, if you followed my advice of a couple weeks ago and turned your PC into a DVR, you’ll be glad to have extra storage for all your TV shows and movies. A single one-hour show recorded in HD can consume around 6 gigabytes (GB) of space.
So, how much storage space do you really need? A good rule of thumb: as much as you can afford. And this deal should prove mighty affordable: TigerDirect has the Toshiba PH3200U-1E3S 2TB External USB 3.0 hard drive for $79.99 plus around $5.50 for shipping.
In case you’re not up on your storage terminology, “2TB” means “two terabytes,” which is equivalent to 2,000 gigabytes. That’s a lot, even for power users, but if you shop around, you’ll find that most one-terabyte drives sell for only around $10 less. Right now, 2TB represents the price/storage sweet spot.
If your computer is new enough to have a USB 3.0 port, you’ll find that this drive offers blazing transfer speeds—about on par with what you’d get from an internal hard drive. If not, no worries: the Toshiba is backward-compatible with USB 2.0 ports. Amazingly, it’s backed by a three-year warranty; most external drives are covered for just one year.
The PH3200U-1E3S (catchy name, huh?) works with Windows and Mac systems alike, though if you own one of the latter, you’ll need to reformat the drive. The only thing missing here is a good backup utility, as Toshiba doesn’t provide any software to speak of. I’m partial to Easeus Todo Backup Free.
I’m not sure how long TigerDirect will be offering the drive at this price, so if you’ve been thinking about expanding your available storage, I’d act fast before the price goes up (the Toshiba normally sells for $109.99) or supplies run out.
If you happen to miss out, fear not: there are similar deals to be had. For example, Office Depot has the Seagate Expansion 2TB External USB 2.0 Hard Drive for $79.99 shipped (), plus sales tax in some states. It’s not as fast, and has only a one-year warranty, but the price is still tough to beat.
Self-proclaimed cheapskate Rick Broida has been a technology writer for over 20 years. He has authored over a dozen books, including, most recently, “How to Do Everything: Palm Pre.” Currently he writes the Cheapskate blog.