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Document Digitization Or External Hard Drives: Which One Is The Better Option To Choose?

Published on 09 December 16
Document Digitization Or External Hard Drives: Which One Is The Better Option To Choose? - Image 1

External hard drives and Document Digitization both provide the efficient way to store the data for a backup purpose. But there is always an argument which service should the user choose?

External hard drives are:

  1. Fast as it takes few minutes to transfer data.

  2. Basically safe from hacking as the user has full control over all the data.

But there are chances of getting stolen, data corruption,fire etc.

On the other hand, Cloud storage is:

  • Reliable
  • Easily available

But it has slower data transfer and is more prone to hacking.

The above factors don’t matter more than the cost factor does. By putting advantages and disadvantages beside, just consider cost as a factor to pick one between external hard drives and cloud storage. To do this, one must look up for the following observations.

1. Cost Per Gigabyte:

The cost of external hard drives is directly proportional to the space in drive. As the capacity of storage increases so does the cost. On an average, it will cost $0.10- $0.50 per gigabyte for the most of leading external hard drive manufacturers.

Conversely, online backup services provide a wide range of features and plan according to the cost. The average cost per gigabyte for cloud ranges from a penny to up to $10. Most service providers charge nominal fees. But some providers add extra fees with extra features like data encryption, multiple storages, 24*7 customer service to the plan.

2. Cost As Per Storage Space Capacity

Neither service has proved itself which one is most affordable on the above observations about the cost per gigabyte. After all, it's all depend on how much storage space need to backup the data. Following are different backup ranges which provides better illustration about cost as per the storage capacity for both the external hard drives and the online backup solutions.

  • Backup Upto 0-20GB

This is generally the mini backup plan. If the user is only interested in backing up of few gigabyte of data, the free online backup will help them. Many service provider like DropBox offer storage space ranges from 5GB to 10GB with zero access fee. While some companies like Mega and ADrive offer 50GB of online storage for free.

Though these backup services are of free of cost, it has some pitfalls like

  1. Restriction to file size limit.

  2. The limitation to the number of devices to add.

And nobody buys external hard drives for such a small amount of storage need. So definitely, cloud storage is a convenient way to store data for this kind of small backup.

  • Backup Upto 20-100GB

If the user has a simple storage needs like storage of few GB of family photos, movies, music from the desktop or laptop which might crash at any time then this basic backup storage space is sufficient. The low-cost cloud-based services provide storage space up to 100GB.

The external hard drives isn’t a good choice for this purpose. It will cost up to $1-$4 per gigabyte. Paying this much amount of money is like a robbery.

Thus, the low-cost document digitization like hubiC, Box Starter, or OpenDrive Home can fulfill this simple storage need.

  • Backup Upto 100-500GB

Today’s average consumer will use storage somewhere in this range. Some users are enthusiastic of storing large amount HD movies and HD music videos. For this kind of users, this is the standard range.

The mean cost for online storage for one year is $0.42 per gigabyte. While it’s $0.41 for the external hard drives and the external hard drives lasts at least for minimum three years. So hard drives cost $0.41 per gigabyte for three years while online storage costs $1.26 ($0.42 * 3) for the same duration.

Therefore, the external hard drives might be considered cost-efficient for this storage range.

  • Backup upto 500GB to 1TB

This range is a big backup range. People generally have 1TB of external hard disk drives with them. The cost factor for this range is same for both the online storage and external drives. The online storage will cost $0.36 per gigabyte for this range while it is $0.21 for external hard drives. But, extra $0.15 insurance cost will add up to the external hard drives. So the costing is same for both which $0.36 per gigabyte.

  • Backup up to 1TB and more

When the storage space exceeds beyond the terabyte, the decision becomes easier. For this range, it is efficient way to invest for external hard drives as on an average, it costs cost $0.12 for per gigabyte but cloud-based storage comes up with a better plan.

Cloud-based storage has a policy like if storage requirement is in the terabyte, the incremental cost for extra space become less and less. For example, 1TB of cloud storage costs for $100, for 2TB storage it costs for $150, for 3TB its $190 and so on. On every extra terabyte purchase, the user can save sufficient amount of money.

Three years of subscription to online storage thus costs only $0.04 per gigabyte. The large scale organizations process terabyte of data and hence this big backup plan always affordable to them.

3. So, Which One To Choose?

Considering the both factors, cost per gigabyte and cost per storage space, there is absolutely no doubt, the cloud storage is a winner of this race. Because of the major impact of Internet, it is becoming more cheaper and more accessible. Sooner or later, the world will choose for online cloud over external hard drives.

With the help of Internet, cloud storage delivers applications and resources on demand. Doesn't matter, where the user in the world, it allows synchronization and sharing of files in more sophisticated way as long as user has Internet connectivity.


The Document Scanning Services has proved that it has better outcome over the external hard drives over a few years. Greater mobility, easy access from anywhere, affordable cost make the online backup solution as a long time investment for the big organizations. Also for the minimal storage requirements, there are free storage solutions.

In coming few years couple of exceptions like data transfer speed and some security issues, they improving quickly and soon the external hard drives may suffer the way like that of compact discs and floppy drives.

This blog is listed under Development & Implementations Community

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