Backing your data up to an external hard drive is just as easy as backing up to a flash drive. Once you have connected the drive to your computer, it should show up in your list of available drives, and you can simply copy across the files and folders you want.
The advantage of using an external hard drive is that they give you a lot more space than a flash drive, and that they are much cheaper, compared by the amount of storage space you’re getting for your money. Also, if you want to back up your operating system – which I’ll discuss later – you are likely to need more space than a single flash drive can provide.
The disadvantage of using an external hard drive is that it has moving parts and stores data on a magnetic disc. This makes it susceptible to damage through mechanical shock and strong magnetic fields.
That being said, my external hard drive is still my first line of backups. I keep it connected to my PC pretty much all the time, which minimises the possibility of it being knocked around or exposed to magnetic fields. Keeping it connected to my computer also allows me to use backup software which allows me to do automatic backups of my most important files – a topic I’ll discuss a little later.
I would absolutely recommend investing in an external hard drive for backup purposes. But do look out for error messages from your computer. A hard drive – like all other storage media – has a limited life span. When you get messages from your computer about problems with your hard drive, be it an external one or the one that’s built into your PC, I would strongly advise you to make a backup of everything that’s on that drive!
Finally, if you want to disconnect an external hard drive from your computer, make sure that you eject it first, same as a flash drive. You can see my short video on how to do that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21GBoJByfgo