Encrypted External Storage – HDD or SSD – ft. iStorage-UK

Got a need for speed?

Whether you’re planning on it or not, external storage is often a key feature to many. We’ve recently been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to look at various options from iStorage-UK; and we thought it would be a good idea to share our thoughts with you. Should you consider spending the extra cash on faster, more reliable storage? Let’s explore this a little further…

We could finish this in two sentences by telling you that the SSD is the better performer, and that it will cost you significantly more. Instead of doing that, we are trying to bring you some rational explanations as to why you might consider one over the other. Cost is often the prohibiting factor when wanting that extra speed, but is it really that bad?

Weighing up the pros and cons – price first!

So, as mentioned, the fact that it is typically a lot more expensive to go down the SSD route is where most people stop. In the case of encrypted storage, the cost effectively doubles going from a HDD to a SSD. The increased throughput is what sells, though. If you move a lot of data, it makes sense to go with the fastest option that you can muster. If you don’t, then it might not be a strong selling point for you as the data will still be portable, you’ll just have to wait longer for a transfer.

This is an article featuring one of the best in the biz, and I’m going to lay the straight facts down. A 1TB HDD is approximately $270 whereas the equivalent SSD is a whopping $560. That is just over double the price. It’s hard to justify spending over half a grand on a 1TB SSD when you can get desktop NVMe drives for significantly less than that, but that’s not the topic of discussion. We are talking about encrypted external storage, so let’s compare apples to apples instead of apples to oranges.

What’s the performance difference?

The diskAshur 2 1TB hard drive (seen left) actually blew us away with our testing. However, the sequential story doesn’t always tell you everything. It’s very rare for anyone to write purely sequential data, and often copy much smaller and many more files. For instance, you might see that the sequential speeds are almost halved on the HDD vs the SSD; but that doesn’t tell you the whole story. Look a little more closely at the 4K file depth. Take note of the SSD that is approximately 40x faster in reads and 4x faster in write speeds.

diskAshur 2 1TB HDD - CDM 1GB Test diskAshur 2 1TB SSD - CDM 1GB Test






These speeds will vary from device to device, but we are comparing two of the top products from iStorage-UK in this instance to keep things fair, as mentioned earlier. If you are a business man or woman, you’re likely transferring a lot of Word or spreadsheet documents. These constitute as small, 4K files for the most part. Truthfully, I haven’t a clue whether or not your data is sequential or not, but that’s what I can tell you.

Some of our testing also included copying approximately 100GB of Steam game files to test the throughput. I do not have the copy window screenshots, but I do have some numbers… arguably better for us all. The hard drive took a hair over 23 minutes to copy the data across. On the contrary, the SSD took less than a third of that time due to the superior 4K writes and the fact that it doesn’t constantly have to seek. We used this as some test data as it varies massively in complexity and gives a good representation for the general public.

Reliability is a plus, too…

There is undeniably a big amount of trust put into our PCs to keep on chugging without randomly dropping out on us. Your storage should be the same, and for that reason, you need to consider the reliability aspect of it too. Solid state drives are inherently more reliable than hard drives due to their nature of zero moving parts. That’s not to say that they are bombproof, though. They are still susceptible to failure like any other electronic device. All microchips have failures, and all of them will eventually die given enough time; but a solid state drive is significantly less likely to fail from a drop or a rough travel experience on the plane. iStorage-UK have developed their drives to withstand incredible amounts of force. Ultimately, you have to be careful with your delicate electronics, whether they’re solid state or not.

Given the fact that these are especially developed to be more robust, I would still put a word of caution out there to make sure that you do not throw it around too much.

Is it ultimately worthwhile to spend more?

That is a very tough and varied response as everyone has different perceptions of what their time is worth to them. For me, time is money. I will gladly spend extra to have less of my time wasted… to a certain point. Some of us might not be as fortunate, though, and will have to heavily weigh out their options.

So, speaking purely from a performance stance, the extra speed of the SSD is undeniable. I do love the fact that it is a fully encrypted drive with XTS-AES 256-bit encryption. That is ultimately the entire point behind iStorage-UK’s devices – data security! Those looking for encrypted storage will already be familiar with the fact that it isn’t cheap to secure your data. The pricing that was mentioned earlier shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

For most of us, the lower speed of the HDD will be a nonissue; and I would also suspect that the vast majority of us would be very happy with it. This wasn’t meant to be a ‘buy SSD, more speed!’ article, but rather a comparison between the two so that you can get a slightly more informed picture before considering a purchase.

We’d like to finish off by thanking iStorage-UK for these samples and for their continued support.

You can check our their entire range of products on their website: https://istorage-uk.com/

You can check out our reviews of the HDD and SSD diskAshur 2 drives here:
Check out the HDD review here.
Check out the SSD review here.

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