Data transfer lets you move files and folders between computers using either hardware or software. Learn more about the best data transfer options.
Data transfer allows you to copy and upload data from one computer to another. It is most commonly used by businesses to transport large amounts of data from one server to another, but you can also use data transfer on personal computers. For example, if you buy a new computer, you can take all your existing data and upload it onto your new PC. There are smaller ways of transferring files, such as using a USB stick to move files, but data transfer typically refers to transferring much larger amounts of data.
There are two primary ways to transfer data. The first is using specialized software, which allows you to upload your data to a secure point and later retrieve it from another computer. There are also several pieces of hardware you can use to download your data onto another hard drive or storage device, then upload into another source.
What to Consider with Data Transfer
There are many considerations when picking a data transfer option. For many users, one of the first features to consider is transfer speed. Transfer speed represents how quickly your files are moved from one source to another. This is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Your Mbps is either determined by hardware or software. Typically, data transfer is much faster with hardware. For example, many external hard drives allow you to transfer several hundred Mbps, while software is limited by your internet connection. Many internet providers have a hard limit on upload speed, typically around 20 to 30 Mbps. This also assumes no other users are on the network. As a result, hardware is preferred for transferring large amounts of data, while software is used for smaller uploads.
Another consideration is security. If you are transferring sensitive work information, you do not want an outside party accessing your data. Fortunately, this is not a large concern in 2021. Data transfer software encrypts and tracks your files. If someone without permission tries to access your files, the software will alert you. Hardware is even more secure, since it is not connected to any network. This means a third party would need the physical hardware to access your data. If this is a concern, you can encrypt the files and require a password before uploading the files.
Finally, you must consider the size of your transfer. Both hardware and software have storage limits. With software, the storage limit is normally determined by your account. Many providers offer different membership tiers that determine how much you can upload. These limits are usually only an issue for businesses. Many providers offer specialized options for businesses, providing unlimited storage space.
Cloud storage allows you to upload files directly from your computer into a digital drive, which can be retrieved from another computer. Two of the most popular cloud transfer options include Google Drive and OneDrive. Google Drive only offers 15 GB of storage initially, but there are multiple upgrade options, going all the way to 30 TB in size. The maximum file size you can upload on Google Drive is 5 TB. OneDrive is smaller, starting with 5 GB for free, with the maximum tier offering up to 6 TB of storage space.
Both options offer top of the line security, since they are operated by two of the largest tech companies, Google and Microsoft. Because of this, they also have excellent customer service teams.
Acronis True Image
True Image is a unique data transfer program, primarily used on work computers. The program contains a special feature called Active Disk Learning. When this option is enabled, True Image creates a replica of your operating system. This allows the program to create backups of your files in real time without you having to shut down whatever you are working on to make a copy. It is also compatible with both Windows and Mac.
The basic account only allows you to make backups of your data. To upload your data onto the Cloud, you must purchase a premium account. The initial account offers 500GB of storage, but there are additional options up to 5 TB.
External SSD Drives
Solid-state drives (SSD) allow you to connect a hard drive directly to your computer to transfer data. There are many SSDs available, ranging in sizes from 50 GB all the way to 2 TB. There are larger options available for businesses, typically ranging from 30 to 48 TB in size, but these models are much more expensive. SSDs are primarily used to transfer data from one computer to another. Installation is a breeze, with most external SSDs connecting directly to your computer with a USB cord.
One of the fastest SSDs on the market is Samsung’s T5, which is available in 250 and 500 GB, as well as 1 and 2 TB. The device itself is small and uses a Type-C USB connection to ensure fast transfer speeds. It also has backwards compatibility with USB 2.0 and 3.0 for older computers.
Seagate also offers a Fast SSD, specifically for data transfers. It is available in the same storage sizes as the T5. It is typically one of the least expensive SSDs on the market, though some users were upset with the short size of the cable. Adata also has an external SSD available for data transfer, the SE730H. This drive is only available in 256 GB or 1 TB sizes. It is much smaller than other portable drives. It has one of the fastest transfer speeds, but it is often more expensive than other devices.