What Is a Multimedia Hard Drive?

G. Wiesen

A multimedia hard drive (MMHD) is a device that acts as an external hard drive that can connect and interact with a number of different devices, including computers, game systems, and televisions. This type of hard drive is often used as storage for multimedia files, such as photographs, videos, and music. Since the hard drive can be connected to a television or other audio and video device, the files on the hard drive can then easily be played through such a device. A multimedia hard drive can connect, wirelessly if needed, to a computer or other hardware through a network connection.

A multimedia hard drive may be connected to a projector.
A multimedia hard drive may be connected to a projector.

Sometimes called a media center or media player, a multimedia hard drive is an external hard drive designed for use in storing and playing various media files. These typically include digital picture files, audio files, and video files. Most of these hard drives provide very large amounts of storage, though they are not necessarily designed to provide the fast transfer speeds of internal drives. This can make an MMHD effective for accessing a single file, but it may provide poor speeds when users try to access or alter multiple files simultaneously.

A multimedia hard drive may be connected to computers.
A multimedia hard drive may be connected to computers.

A multimedia hard drive typically works by connecting to various other devices, such as a computer. This allows a computer user to connect the hard drive to his or her computer, copy or transfer files from the computer onto the hard drive, and then connect that hard drive to other hardware for different purposes. The hard drive can, therefore, be used like other types of external hard drives to provide extra storage for various computer files. An MMHD is different from other external drives, however, in that it can also be connected to televisions, projectors, and video game consoles.

This means that files transferred onto a multimedia hard drive can then be viewed through a television connected to that drive, usually through a remote control provided with the hard drive. There are also network multimedia hard drives that can be connected to multiple computers at once, allowing files to be transferred to the drive from different sources, and then connected to a television for playback. A wireless MMHD can also be used for easier file transfers. This type of hard drive can be connected to a television or other viewing device, while on a wireless network, allowing file transfers from remote locations that can then be played on the connected viewing device.

Files can easily be transferred or copied from an internal hard drive to a multimedia hard drive.
Files can easily be transferred or copied from an internal hard drive to a multimedia hard drive.

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Discussion Comments


@malmal - So according to your numbers, there, that would make my 2.5 TB hard drive hold somewhere near 300 full length movies. Wow...now I feel like my actual use for it isn't doing its capabilities justice.

I'm have a hobby similar to yours, only much more solitary and involving way more hours spent sitting in front of a computer. See, I create and render short films in 3D using my computer, cut and edit and arrange them on the computer, then plug my external multimedia hard drive into my television and have little showings of the short films among my family and friends.

I post a much lower-res version of the same films on YouTube, but seeing them high definition on my television is seeing them as I meant for them to be seen.

I'm really happy with my choice to purchase an external multimedia hard drive so that I can just plug it into the television and watch my little short films. I think you would get a lot of good use out of it if you bought one for your moviemaking hobby as well.


A portable multimedia hard drive sounds right up my alley! I am a hobbyist movie maker, and I always end up with hours and hours of footage. It fills up my regular hard drive fast, and my regular external hard drive is used for backups of my computer system, so I really shouldn't be using it to store video anything.

After doing some reading about the capacity of a 1TB external multimedia hard drive (enough for about 144 full-length two hour movies!) and reading about it here on WiseGEEK, I've decided to go ahead and buy myself one. They cost on average a couple hundred dollars for a 1TB drive, but I think it'll be worth it in the long run when I don't have to worry about losing track of my footage later.


@aishia - The article explains the answer to your question, albeit briefly -- as it notes, external multimedia hard drives can be connected to devices other than computers, like your television or video game console.

Your regular external hard drive may be accessible to these devices over your network already, or maybe you're one of those people who plugs the hard drive in via USB to any device you're using.

Anyway, the external multimedia hard drive is different from your typical external portable hard drive because it actually has plugin sockets for the types of cords your television, game console and other devices use.

In other words, rather than go through your computer and the wireless network, you could plug the external multimedia hard drive directly into your television. Pretty neat, huh?

It sounds like an external multimedia hard drive would be a good thing for your kind of uses. I recommend looking into buying one.


So, what makes an external multimedia hard drive any different than my regular external hard drive? If the multimedia drive lags up when accessing two or more files simultaneously like the article cays here, then file transfer time isn't the reason the drive is called "multimedia".

What is? I've never heard the term "multimedia hard drive" before, and since the primary use for my regular external hard drive is saving digital copies of my movies then playing them over my computer network so that I don't have to mess with DVDs, I'm wondering if maybe a multimedia hard drive is something that I should upgrade to.

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