When you’re constantly adding new music to your collection, you’re going to run out of space on your laptop pretty quickly. It can be a big hassle. When I started DJing, it was something that I never really put much thought into. As I started to progress in my career, having ample space on my computer was something that became important to me very quickly.
If you’re looking to DJ off an external hard drive, this is going to be the post for you. I’ve tried several external hard drives in my career and I mean A LOT. They break (sadly) or run out of space and I’m forced to transfer to a larger hard drive. Here’s my recommendations and thoughts on hard drives for DJs.
Why Do I Need a Hard Drive?
Early in your DJ career, it’s easy to overlook this fact. If you’re just starting, your music library is so miniscule that the thought of even needing extra storage on your laptop probably doesn’t even cross your mind. That’s exactly what happened with me. Once my music library started exceeded hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes, I knew it was time to make the step to get more storage.
If you are a mobile DJ, especially, you’ll need to make sure that you have all of your music in one place. When I first started, I bought a puny 80GB (Gigabyte) external hard drive. You can only imagine how long that lasted before I needed to get a larger one. What did I do? I got ANOTHER 80GB external hard drive. So now I had TWO hard drives. What was I thinking? Now I had to lug around more stuff than I initially planned for. This is why I ultimately get one big hard drive to store my songs.
The External Hard Drive I Recommend
After deciding that carrying around a bunch of 80GB hard drives was not for me, I opted in for a large 2TB one. The one I use now is the LaCie Rugged Mini from Amazon. After going through hard drive after hard drive, here is why it’s my favorite:
- It’s Small – I carry a lot of things when I DJ. Having a small enough hard drive is something that makes my life a little bit easier. I can just throw it in my bag and forget about it.
- It’s Tough – This external hard drive takes a beating when I travel. It’s constantly getting banged around in my bag. Having a reliable hard drive that won’t break when I rely on it the most is extremely important. You won’t want to show up to perform a show to find out your hard drive is now broken.
- Compatible with USB 3.0 – USB 3.0 is the most updated USB to date. This means that file transfer speeds are incredibly quick. Large files transfer from my hard drive to my computer within a matter of seconds.
This hard drive has served me well over several years now. It’s relatively moderately priced compared to other hard drives on the market and I chose this one simply because of it’s sheer reliability.
Can You DJ off an External Hard Drive?
Yes, you can DJ off of an external hard drive, but there are a few things you should be aware of before you do.
- DJ Booths are Crowded – This can lead to someone bumping into the USB cable, causing it to disconnect from your laptop, ultimately leading to silence on the dance floor.
- They can break – Some Hard drives are delicate. This why I opt in for a tougher hard drive that can handle being tossed around.
- USB compatibility Issues – If you have a USB 3.0 hard drive, but a USB 1.1 drive on your laptop, you will encounter performance issues. However, most newer models since 2013 & 2017 feature USB 3.1 and 3.2 drives so you should be fine.
Features I look for in an External Hard Drive
It’s no question that your hard drive should be reliable when you DJ, but what are some things that I particularly look for in a hard drive? Well, the first thing I look for is the amount of space on the hard drive. Typically, I always opt in for the largest size, just because I like having that extra buffer room for more things to be added. Most DJs an get away with a 200gb hard drive just fine, but the 1TB hard drives aren’t much more expensive and you can put much more data on them.
The second thing that I like to look for is that lifetime of the drive. I’ve been through several external drives since I started DJing, but some of them just don’t last. Part of that might be my fault, but I move around a lot, and having a hard drive that can take a bit of a beating is something that I can appreciate.
The last major feature of an external hard drive that I look for is data transfer speed. When I’m DJing, it’s critical that I can get my music out there with absolutely no delay. Performance issues with your hard drive are a DJs worst nightmare. This is why I like to avoid that just by getting a lightening fast external hard drive.