One factor that affects the speed of your backup is the drive that you are sending the files to. If using a traditional hard drive then it depends on how fast the platters spin. The platters are the circular disks on which the data is stored for the hard drive. There are usually a few platters which are then mounted under a single spindle. Platters spin at 4200, 5400, 7200, 10,000 and 15,000 RPM (revolutions per minute). The faster the hard drive platter spins then the faster data can be read and written to them.
There are also solid state drives instead of a hard disk drive. These store their data on solid state memory rather than magnetic rotating platters – it acts much like flash memory (like SD cards) do in that they do not physically need to spin up to access the data. SSDs are generally better due to their better resistance to damage and lower access times when compared to a standard hard disk drive. The low latency and faster seek times of a SSD will mean that backups performed to them will be much quicker. However, the only downside is that they are more expensive than a HDD; you will have to calculate whether or not the additional cost is worth the time saving.
How fast you need the hard drive to be will depend on a few factors. One of these is how many files you are actually backing up. The greater the number of files you have then the more seeking the drive will have to do, thus increasing the time of the backup. For example, if the volume is highly fragmented then it will take longer than one that has little. Also, for every file to be copied the drive head must move to where it is located on the platter. This means that transferring few, big files will be quicker than a lot of small files.
The speed of the backup is also affected by its hardware interface, whether that is something like Thunderbolt, USB or Firewire. It is best to get a hard drive enclosure that will support multiple interfaces for better compatibility. At the moment, Thunderbolt (an interface developed between Intel and Apple) offers the fastest speeds of 10 Gbps in both directions. However, support for this is small at the moment due to how new the technology is. A good choice would be USB 3.0, which is backwards compatible and offers speeds of 5 Gbps.
Having a hard drive that spins at something like 15,000 RPM will probably be overkill for a lot of people. In fact, if money is not a problem, then it is best to go for a solid state drive. These do not have any physical components (and thus are less prone to failure) and offer quicker backing up times than a mechanical drive that has to move its parts when working. However, it really depends on how much data you have backing up and whether or not an increased RPM is going to save you much time.
How Fast Does A Backup Hard Drive Need To Be?
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