External HD USB 3.0 or 2.0

I'm looking to buy an external hard-drive for my computer (a USB powered one) in the timeframe of now to a week. The dilemna I'm having is whether to buy a USB 3.0 or a USB 2.0 one.

Obviously the answer would be the USB 3.0 one since it's faster and newer technology. However, the motherboard on my computer is an Asus P7P55D which only has USB 2.0 ports. Obviously I will upgrade my computer down the road, but maybe not for the next two two years or so.

My question is, which will be faster and wiser to buy out of the two. I'm aware that the USB 3.0 will still work on my motherboard, just at slower speeds. But out of the two which would be faster:

- USB 3.0 on my current motherboard.
- USB 2.0 on my current motherboard.

If they will be relatively the same speed, then I will probably purchase the USB 3.0 since it will be more future compatiblel. However, if it will result in a significantly slower read/write speeds than if I were to purchase the 2.0 one, then it wouldn't be worth it.

Specifically I've been looking at the Western Digital Passport 500GB External Drives. Mainly because:

- I'm not using this for a permanent storage drive, but I do need the large capacity for what I'm using it for.
- I like the small size of the hard drive.
- I don't want to carry around a power cord along with a USB cord, so USB powered is the way to go.
- Even though I had a WD 1TB Elements die on me, I still trust the brand.

Unless someone could recommend me a better external hard-drive to use.

Thanks in advance for the help, any questions or clarifications please let me know.
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  1. Best answer
    If you plug a USB 3.0 device into a USB 2.0 port, you get USB 2.0. Buy a USB 3.0 controller card and stick it in a slot. For example (not an endorsement)

    I'm not sure if USB 3.0 provides enough power to run this without a power supply. My fast USB 2.0 drive came with a cable with TWO USB plugs - one for power and data, one for power only.
  2. Wait, wait, wait. I answered the question as-asked; I have what I consider to be a better answer.

    How about a removable drive with 3.0 Gb/sec transfer speeds? And no external power? And no cable?

    There are bays that you can install that will accept a bare SATA drive, either 3.5" or 2.5". When you put a drive in, it's inside your machine. No cable, full power, nothing on a desktop to knock over (that's why I didn't care for the original Icydock).

    Of course, there is the downside that you are storing bare drives, which require more careful handling than drives in an enclosure.

    I use these:

    I dislike things like these, as I tend to knock them off my desk or spill tea into them, destroying the drives
  3. JordoR said:
    But out of the two which would be faster:

    - USB 3.0 on my current motherboard.
    - USB 2.0 on my current motherboard.

    Neither they will run at the same speed. A USB 3.8 drive will run at USB 2.0 speeds when connected to a USB 2.0 port.
  4. Thanks for the quick replies.

    Based on this, I'm pretty sure I will just go with a USB 3.0 to plan for the future (Unless I can finda significantly cheaper 2.0 one)

    WyomingKnott, thanks for the side note about the removable drives, but I'm looking at something a bit more portable that I can use on multiple computers without having to deal with too much.

    I was originally looking at the WD Passport drives, but after doing some reading and realizing they use a custom USB cord that is only 12" long, I would like something a bit more universally compatible with just a plain USB - USB connection.

    Are there any portable HD's in the 500GB-1TB range that have only a usb connection that you could recommend? I was also looking at the Seagate Flex drives, but they really seem to have a mixed set of reviews.

    Thanks again for the help.
  5. I have two of the Toshiba Canvio 1 TB drives and like those alot. (I also have an WD Elements, but I like the build on the Toshiba more: less easy to drop.)

    Note: I have the USB 2.0 version.
  6. Best answer selected by JordoR.
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