Computers / Tips and Solutions

Battle of the Sixes: 6TB External Drives Arrive with a Bang

As we get deep into hard-drive week with our roundups of portable drives, hard drives and solid-state drives for gaming, and explanation of NAS servers, we add this to the mix—there are large-capacity external drives out there that don’t really fit into any scenario. They’re good for almost any data storage solutions, and the main reason they’re excluded from most portable drive roundups is a) they’re large and take up desk real estate and b) at these capacities you may want to look into NAS solutions.

So why talk about them at all? Well, they’re fairly new to the market at this size; 6TB is a great deal of storage. We’re only talking about single disk drives, as well. There are other 6TB solutions, but they involve multiple smaller disks set up in RAID configurations. This is one gigantic 6TB chunk of storage, and even though there are 8TB drives out there (like this one from Transcend), this is exactly the kind of mid-size storage solution you need.

Do you need this much space? You might, rabbit, you might. But these don’t offer the functionality of a RAID system, so they are mostly going to be used for raw data storage of multiple types of data. For example…

Scenario 1: You have thousands of RAW format images, and you need somewhere to store them while you work on cataloging and organizing them.

Scenario 2: You’re a designer with multiple projects, and you need a large-volume scratch disk to cache your work. 6TB allows you the freedom to keep the heavy lifting from your main drive.

Scenario 3: You are transferring data from multiple older drives and need a staging area to compile your work.

Scenario 4: You have a lot of stuff.

These drives are somewhat limited, as well; they don’t offer network capability out of the box (although most routers now have a USB 3.0 port to hook up external drives and access them from the network). They also require a power brick—the technology to allow a 6TB drive to use a bus-powered draw is still a ways off—so it’s another cord to deal with. Also, if a single 6TB drive like this fails, you’re out of luck as far as backup goes.

Still, the appeal is that these behemoths are relatively inexpensive, and the cost per gigabyte is attractive. Only a couple of years ago, a 4TB internal drive used to cost almost $400. These 6TB portable externals can be had for a little more than half of that, in some cases. Let’s see what else they offer that sets them apart:

Battle of the Sixes: Tale of the Tape


Toshiba 6TB Canvio Desktop External Hard Drive 

WD 6TB My Book Desktop HDD

Capacity 6TB 6TB
Interface USB 3.0  USB 3.0
(Backwards compatible with USB 2.0) USB 2.0
Data Transfer Rate USB 3.0: Up to 5 Gbps  USB 3.0 up to 5 Gb/s (max.)
USB 2.0: Up to 480 Mbps USB 2.0 up to 480 Mb/s (max.)
Speed 5400 rpm not specified
Average Seek Time 10.5 ms not specified
Cache Buffer 32MB not specified
Software Included NTI Backup Now EZ WD SmartWare, Acronis True Image for WD
System Requirements Formatted NTFS for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 Formatted NTFS for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8
Requires reformatting for Mac OS X Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard or Lion Requires reformatting for Mac OS X Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard or Lion
Available USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 port Available USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 port
USB 3.0 port required for high-speed transfers USB 3.0 port required for high speed tansfers
Dimensions (LxWxH) 5.08 x 1.65 x 6.57" / 129 x 42 x 167mm 1.9 x 6.7 x 5.5" / 49 x 171 x 139mm
Weight 2.29 lb / 1.04 kg 1.96 lb / 0.89 kg

As you can see, both of these match up evenly. Both have USB 3.0 connectivity (backward compatible with USB 2.0 ports) both have software (I will give a nod to the WD with the Acronis True Image software. I’ve used this software before and it is flawless although, full disclosure, I have never used the NTI Backup Now EZ software). Toshiba also keeps things transparent by listing the average seek time, rotational speed, and cache buffer. As of this writing, WD does not list those specifications, although you can be assured the drive does not go below 5400 rpm. Even the size and weight are fairly similar, with the Toshiba Canvio being the heftier of the two.

Again, the big question, the technological elephant in the room is, what does this mean to you? A 6TB drive is overkill in most cases, but as we gather and hoard more digital data in our lives, it easily becomes relevant. 6TB of raw storage can hold 1,200,000 photos; 1,500,000 .mp3s; and 460 hours of high-definition video. If you have that much of any of those categories, you need a 6TB drive and some personal time to deal with it. Where will you put your thousands of selfies, Kim Kardashian? On a 6TB drive. Where will you store all those family vacation photos, videos, or home-recorded original songs? A 6TB drive. It has its place. Find out yours.

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At 5400 rpm... pass.

Why? Please explain to those of us less knowledgeable.

It's slow.  Rodrian is probably looking for a drive that is 7200rpm which means faster transfers of info and if you're transfering a lot of data at one time faster is always better :-).  If you don't use it often then you probably won't care, but if you use it often/have large files, think video, then it would be better to get a faster drive.


Are they compatible with Windows 10. And what hardrives are there that are compatible with Windows 10.

The drives are fully compatible with Windows 10. In general storage devices will be compatible through operating system upgrades due to universal drivers.

When discussing large capacity hard drives, always keep in mind the need to backup your data, photos, musics, etc.   Hard drives do fail!

The real issue is backing up your 6TB of data.  These external drives do and will fail (ask me how I know).  Please take this in consideration whan purchasing any storage solution the more storage you have the more backup medum you will need.  The capacity of your backup should equal the capacity of your storage plus allowance for expansion and system files.  That being said 6TB of storage would require 6TB + of storage and you will find that the media and method of  backing up data is far more expensive than that 6TB external drive.