The average price of a 2TB external hard disk drive is dropping rapidly with some models costing under £70 (like the Toshiba 2TB Canvio USB 3.0 external hard drive).
It's only a matter of time before (a) someone actually comes up with an affordable model that combines two 9.5-mm 2.5-inch drives in one single enclosure – Seagate already has one but it costs nearly three times more than a 2TB 2.5-inch model, and (b) 4TB 2.5inch drives appear on the market.
Until then, if you want to store very large amounts of data cheaply locally without having to use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) or a server, we'll have to stick to external 3.5-inch hard disk drives.
Those with the cheapest terabyte for hard-earned cash are 4TB models at the moment, with certain ones offering a Terabyte for less than £25 (about $40, AU$45).
One of the most affordable models is Toshiba's STOR.E CANVIO 3.5 4TB USB 3.0 (opens in new tab), otherwise known as the HDWC240EK3J1 or the Canvio Desk. It costs only £99.99 (roughly $159, AU$ 183) on Amazon, the same – at the time of writing – as the similar Seagate STBV4000200 Expansion (opens in new tab).
As expected, this 3.5-inch external hard drive is big (129 x 42 x 167mm or 5.08 x 1.65 x 6.57inch) and heavy at just over 1Kg. It requires a 24W external power adaptor which means that you have to be near a mains power supply to use it.
Physically, it is a rectangular-shaped device that is designed to stand up or sit flat, and you should be able to stack a couple in the later position should the need to do so arises.
Unlike its smaller counterpart, the STOR.e Canvio 2TB 2.5-inch drive, the Canvio Desk doesn't come bundled with the Pogoplug software (and cloud-based storage).
You do however get the NTI Backup Now EZ 3 for free, a goodie worth $40 (about £25, AU$ 46) and with it the ability to backup files offsite as well as granular restoring capabilities.
- PC Mark 8 rating: 2928
- Crystal Benchmark Reads: 173.7Mbps/223.23 IOPS
- Crystal Benchmark Writes: 183.4Mbps/447.23 IOPS
The Toshiba 4TB Canvio drive compensates its bulkiness by a relatively high transfer rate and rather good performance. The NTFS-formatted drive has a 7200RPM rotational speed, 32MB buffer cache and offers a stated 14ms access time.
Here's the kicker though, Toshiba doesn't do a 4TB hard disk drive for consumers and none of its enterprise hard disk drives match the stated specifications of the Canvio Desk. That could mean that Toshiba is using someone else's hard disk drive.
That belief is reinforced by the fact that both the 4TB and 5TB models sport 7200RPM spinning speeds compared to 5900RPM for the lower capacity ones.
To make things even more interesting, only one hard disk drive on the market, the WD RE WD4001FYYG (opens in new tab) fits the profile (4TB, 3.5-inch, 32MB, 7200RPM). Two issues though: it is a SAS drive and costs more than twice the STOR.E Canvio.
Now a faster spinning hard disk drive means two things, generally (a) it is noisier in operation (b) it consumes more power and therefore tends to be hotter when in use. Unsurprisingly, the Canvio Desk ticks both boxes and that explains to some extent why the designers added vents.
Like its smaller sibling, this drive is fantastic value for money. It is affordable, sturdily built, fast and should you need a large capacity internal hard disk drive, well, you can always pry one open as it is cheaper – by a huge margin – compared to other internal HDDS on the market, another paradox of demand and supply. It is a bit noisy but everything is subjective.
There's two reasons though why one could hold off from buying one of those though. Firstly, the Seagate 4TB costs the same and may well be a better buy – we haven't tested it yet.
Secondly, the 3TB and 5TB models could be good alternatives depending on whether you want the cheapest price per TB on the market or the highest portable storage density in that category.