Hard Disk Drive Interfaces: Thunderbolt vs. USB 3.0


When you’re buying a new external hard disk drive, you have choices in connectivity options. Previously, those choices included FireWire, USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 (the current industry standard). There’s a new kid in town when it comes to device connectivity. Well, actually Thunderbolt isn’t new, it was first introduced early last year, but it’s finally making headway in the consumer market as a rival to FireWire and USB 3.0. 

Does that mean it’s time to dump all your external hard disk drives and upgrade to this “lightning fast” new technology? 

Not quite. While major manufacturers like Lacie and Drobo are already creating devices with Thunderbolt ports, most hard disk drives will still come with USB 3.0, and maybe even FireWire, connectivity options, too, in the foreseeable future. 

Is Thunderbolt better than the other connectivity standards? Let’s take a look at some of its features. Thunderbolt: 

– Supports both PCI Express and DisplayPort connections from one port

– Can support DVI, HDMI, VGA, FireWire, eSata with adapters

– Upload and download times up to 10 gigabits per second, 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and 12 times faster than FireWire

– Daisy-chain devices without a noticeable loss in speed

Faster Transfer = Easier Back-ups

Speed, of course, is the key selling point for Thunderbolt ports. Ten gigabits per second, with potential for even faster speeds in future incarnations, makes data transfer easier, especially when it comes to downloading large movie and music files. 

Such blazing fast download and upload speeds also offer another benefit: quicker back-ups. Thunderbolt allows you to copy the entire contents of your PC, Mac, tablet or netbook’s hard disk drive to an external drive for back-up in mere minutes; there’s no excuse to not back-up your data regularly. 

Remember, even the most cutting-edge hard drive or solid state drive technology can fail after a certain amount of read/write cycles. Regular back-ups are the best way to protect your data. But if you should encounter a data recovery emergency and your back-ups failed (or you didn’t have any) remember that 24 Hour Data is here to help. No judging. No blame. Just fast, successful hard drive recovery at reasonable prices. 

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