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So a bit over a year ago, I moved to a new laptop, and connected an external USB hard drive with the files from my old one. Since then, I used the external drive, labeled as Elements (E:), as a second drive, leaving it plugged in at (nearly) all times, working directly out of it, and mapping several taskbar items, shortcuts, program settings, etc. to directories in the external drive. I'd run many programs from it, leave programs stored in it open for long stretches of time, use performance-heavy programs from it, and work in very deep directories (For example: E:\****\****\****\****\****\****\****\****\****\****\)

For a while, this worked without issue, but eventually, the drive started automatically disconnecting during heavy use. After a while, it stopped doing it, but it came back again, and now it's just inevitable whenever I'm working off of the drive or using things on it for any moderate amount of time. Through some research, I've found out that the drive is very much meant for backups only, and not constant heavy usage, so I've been wanting to replace it with a different one more suited to the task.

I'm planning to use Robocopy to move the files over from the original, since system images won't work because the drive disconnects partway through, and Robocopy should allow me to continue where I left off after it reconnects, and I'm planning to label the new drive as Elements (E:).

For context, my current external drive is a WD Elements 2TB portable HDD, connected by USB. It's 3.5", 5400rpm, "Bus Powered," USB 2.0/3.0, and has a flash memory size of 2. My laptop is a ThinkPadT15p with 2 USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and is running on Windows 10. In spite of it being a laptop, I usually just leave it on my desk, only really moving it to one other place in the house when I have company or taking it with me when traveling.

I've tried researching it myself, but I haven't really been able to find much information about what would fit my specific needs, and I'm not knowledgeable enough about how drives actually work to fully understand the differences between SSD and HDD, or to evaluate the specs of individual products. Again, I'd like it to effectively just be a second working drive, being available 100% or near 100% of the time, able to withstand heavy use, and at a similar speed to my current drive. It also needs to be at minimum 2TB, though it would be nice to upgrade to 3 or 4. That's just a nice-to-have though.

In regards to budget, I'm willing to go up to around $300, maybe a bit past, but only if it's actually going to last at least a few years without having to be replaced. If I'm just going to have to replace it in a year again anyway, then I don't want to pay more than $100. However, if you have recommendations outside of my price range and feel that the ones in my price range won't adequately suit my needs, then I'd still appreciate if you mentioned that.

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The price of SSDs has now dropped sufficiently that there is no longer any real need to have to consider HDs at all. They're bulky, delicate & easy to damage by dropping etc.

SSDs are 'unbreakable' in ordinary use - of course they may not stand up to being run over by a bus or dropped from a 3 storey building, but for daily knocks & scrapes they should last 'forever'.
The will wear out eventually, as will anything, and people seem to have this fear of them being 'used up' rapidly, because they do have a finite wear limit stated by the manufacturers. In practise this wear limit is not a particularly limiting factor, especially on larger drives. My own 1TB boot drive SSD is now nearly 9 years old & still good according to SMART tests. It is in constant use on a computer that never even ever goes to sleep.

So - find yourself a big box retailer*, something like Curry's in the UK or maybe Best Buy US & get something from a name you've heard of.
Samsung, SanDisk, Crucial, Seagate, WD etc

UK prices are under £250 for 4TB.

*Big box retailers will sell exactly what it says on the label. Amazon & eBay etc, you're not always quite so sure of what you get. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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