Cloud storage vs. external hard drives: Which really offers the best bang for your buck?

Behind the Spec Sheet seeks to draw new insights based on hardware data. Produced by FindtheBest, a company that aggregates specs and features in a centralized database, this weekly guest column will share data-driven discoveries and surprises, and attempt to expose common misconceptions.

By now, you know the basic arguments in the on-site versus off-site storage debate. External hard drives are fast (everything backed up in minutes!) and safe from hackers (you control the data), but are susceptible to theft, fire, and hard drive failure. Meanwhile, cloud solutions provide ongoing, reliable service, but are slower than on-site solutions, and (theoretically) more vulnerable to hackers.

But for today, let’s put aside the usual arguments and focus strictly on cost. Assuming your data will not be hacked, stolen, or burnt to a crisp in a house fire, which solution—cloud storage or an external hard drive—is more cost effective, byte for byte?

At FindTheBest, we compiled data on more than 400 external hard drives, including brands like Seagate, LaCie, and Western Digital, as well as more than 80 online backup services, including familiar names like DropBox and Box, as well as smaller companies like BackBlaze and Crashplan.

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Updated: May 24, 2015 — 12:05 pm

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