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If you own a PS4 and love downloading games, there’s a good chance you know the pain of uninstalling and reinstalling games to manage your 500GB storage better. There are two solutions for this problem: PS Now and external hard drive. The question is, which one is best for you?
Let’s explore what you can do and which one is better for your storage space problems.PS Now vs. External Hard Drive
If you’re running out of space, you can do one of two things: get a PS Now subscription or purchase an external hard drive. PS Now lets you stream games without downloading them, while an external hard drive extends the amount of space you have at your disposal.
While getting both of them is an ideal situation, it’s not realistic for someone who’s tight on funds. As such, let’s break down where each one shines so you can better decide which is best for you.Cost: PS Now in the Short Term, External HDD in the Long Term
When it comes to cost, the problem gets a little complicated. PS Now is $9.99 a month with a free 30-day trial, while a 1TB hard drive goes for around $50 on Amazon.
PS Now is cheaper in the short term, but after you use up your one month trial and then stay subscribed for five more, you’ve paid the same amount as the hard drive.
As such, while a hard drive has a higher updrive cost, it will last you a few years and be a better investment overall than PS Now.External Hard Drive Best for Existing Libraries
If you’re stuffing your PS4 full of games you have already bought, an external HDD is your best choice. PS Now lets you stream games, but not every game is on the service. As such, you may subscribe to play your favorite games on PS Now only to find they’re not on there.
An external hard drive, however, is compatible with every PS4 game. As such, you can happily load one up with all your games without needing to juggle them.But PS Now Is Best for Explorers
However, if your PS4 is lacking space because you love exploring new games, PS Now may be the better option. This is because when you subscribe, you unlock the entire PS Now catalogue at no extra cost past the subscription fee.
As such, if you enjoy exploring the games PS4 has to offer, PS Now will give you a smorgasbord to sample, unlike an external hard drive, which doesn’t come with any additional games.Poor Internet? Go with the Hard Drive
PS Now is great, but it depends on you having a good enough Internet connection to stream the games. If your Internet cuts out often, you’ll find PS Now to be a frustrating experience. Even if your Internet is only so-so, PS Now may force you off if it’s not good enough.Which Is Best for You?
If your storage woes are due to your love of games, a PS Now subscription is the best option for you, especially if you love to play games from different regions. Not only do you get a whole new collection of games to play, but they can all be streamed, taking up no space on your PS4.
However, if you have a bad internet connection or already have a library of games you want to play, an external hard drive is a good idea. A terabyte hard drive doesn’t cost much these days, so it’s a cheap upgrade to give you more breathing room.
Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.
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There are plenty of portable hard disk drives (HDD) as well as much-faster solid-state drives (SSD) to choose from and we’ve reviewed and ranked some of the best ones. We are focussing on SSDs here but hard drives like the WD Black P10 get an honourable mention.
Portable USB drives are powered by the connected computer, so you can use them on the move without the need to plug into the mains or use batteries. Some will even connect your phone or tablet and let you extend storage that way, or allow you to transfer or open files.Best portable hard drives & SSDs 2023
1. Crucial X6 – Best Overall
Lacks hardware encryption
No activity light
500GB model slower
Best Prices Today:
SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 836MB/s
It might not be quite as fast as the Adata SE760 but a recent upgrade to the 1- and 2TB models makes the X6 unbeatable in terms of value for money with the 1TB model costing well under £100/$100.
Furthermore, it comes in an ever more portable form factor than its bigger brother, the X8, which is still drop tested to 2m and comes with the same three-year warranty.
As an all-rounder goes, it’s our top pick, even if it lacks things like hardware encryption and an activity light.
Read our full
2. Adata SE760 – Best Value
Type-A & Type-C cables
Limited to 1TB
Best Prices Today:
SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 934MB/s
Adata has come up with an excellent rival to the Crucial X8 and importantly done so at a cheaper price.
Like the X8 there are no features like a rugged design or encryption but there are alternative options if you need those things.
Instead, the SE760 provides a hassle-free way of carrying around a large amount of speedy storage without breaking the bank. It even comes with Type-C and Type-A USB cables included.
A solid choice if you want between 250GB and 1TB of capacity.
Read our full
3. Kingston XS2000 – Affordable Performance
Small and lightweight
Needs USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 for full speed
Limited SLC cache size
No USB Type-A adapter
Best Prices Today:
SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 1986MB/s
If you want the top performance then the XS2000 is aptly named as it offers headline speeds with read peaking at 2092MB/s, though you will need a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port to access this level of performance.
That’s around double many rivals if you do and the price here is surprisingly affordable, plus this is a very portable drive.
On the downside, the limited cache means you won’t get sustained performance for larger files and Kingston doesn’t provide a USB adapter to use the XS2000 with older Type-A ports.
Read our full
4. Seagate One Touch (2024) – Best Backup Software
Up to 2TB
Free Sync Plus software
Could be more robust
Best Prices Today:
SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 1,007MB/s
As long as you don’t need hardware encryption then the latest version of the One Touch SSD is an excellent choice.
Plug it into the right USB port and you’ll get double the speed of the previous version, matching many rivals. Capacity goes up to 2TB and Seagate provides useful and free, Sync Plus software to make backing up files easy.
It’s also highly portable and although it’s not as rugged as some alternatives, it’s hardly fragile. The main pain point here is the ridiculously short cables, but that’s not uncommon either.
Read our full
5. CalDigit Tuff nano – Best Speed and Durability Combo
Not the cheapest
SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 891MB/s
The CalDigit Tuff nano blew us away with its super-fast speeds, which are twice as fast as comparable portable SSDs. using NVMe technology, the 512GB drive we tested achieved Read and Write speeds close to 1,000MB/s!
It’s also robust, being IP67 certified – meaning that it can be immersed in water and is dust-tight. It can also withstand drops up to 3M.
It is compatible with most computers (it comes with USB-C and USB-A cables), and, being USB-C, can also work with Apple’s iPad Pro.
While it might be a little pricy for the casual user, professionals such as photographers and filmmakers will appreciate its blistering speed and tough travel credentials.
Read our full
6. Crucial X8 – Good Value Performance
Best Prices Today:
SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 1,015MB/s
The Crucial X8 is a great option for those looking for reliable portable SSD.
It’s well-made, compact and offers excellent speeds via USB 3.2 Gen 2 and offers great value for money, too.
There might not be any encryption but for many users, this won’t be an issue. If it is, then there are plenty of other options such as the Samsung T7 Touch and SanDisk Extreme.
Read our full
7. Samsung T7 Touch – Best Encryption
No admin backdoor
Best Prices Today:
SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 929MB/s
Samsung has improved on the popular T5 with a portable SSD that’s both faster and is more secure.
The fingerprint scanner works well but the drive is lacking in a simple way to reset it should you not have the registered finger so just be careful. You’ll also need to be using the right port to get the most out of the T7’s potential speed.
Those are just caveats for an excellent drive which has a lot to like. If you won’t make use of these new features then you may as well grab the cheaper T5.
Read our full
8. SanDisk Extreme Portable SDD V2 – Most Portable
Faster than SATA SSDs
USB-A + USB-C
Best Prices Today:
SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 930MB/s
SanDisk has done a great job of improving its rugged portable SSD with this new model, although the naming is a little too similar with just ‘V2’ at the end which isn’t even on the box.
If you make sure you’re buying this new model, you’ll benefit from double the speed as well as built-in encryption. The Extreme Portable is also one of the lightest drives we’ve ever seen if that’s important and also has an IP55 water and dust rating.
The drive offers both USB-A and USB-C, just note that you’ll need a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port on the device you plug this SSD into to benefit from the fastest speeds.
Read our full
9. WD Black D10 – Best Gaming Storage
Short USB cable
Can’t run all console titles
Best Prices Today:
HDD, Average Read/Write speed: 625MB/s
If you’re lacking in space for your console or PC games then the WD Black D30 is a decent option to gain a lot of storage in a small and stylish package.
The metal container style shell is really the only gaming element of this drive, but it is highly portable and ready to use out the box. You’ll get decent speeds from the USB 3.2 standard.
As usual, we’d like the cable to be longer. If you need more space than 2TB and can cope with slower speeds, the Black P10 goes to 5TB.
Read our full
10. SanDisk Professional PRO-G40 – Best Performance
Headline performance on Thunderbolt
No USB Type-A adapter included
Best Prices Today:
SSD, Average Read/Write speed: 2682MB/s
Those looking for serious speeds in an ultra-rugged casing that will survive the likes of water, drops and more have just found it.
The PRO-G40 gets close to 3000MB/s in read speeds if you use it over Thunderbolt. With USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds significantly slower, it’s not worth the high cost of this drive compared to rivals.
That’s the main issue here, with seemingly most of the cost going on the casing, while the drive inside only comes in 1- or 2TB sizes at launch. At this price, a longer cable and some kind of carry pouch would be nice. The G40 will be a better buy once it starts getting discounted.
Read our full SanDisk Professional PRO-G40 reviewHow to choose a portable SSD
Even the smallest portable drives are likely to be 128GB in size, which is enough to space thousands of CD albums in lossless FLAC format, or even more in lower quality MP3 or AAC formats. Off-loading your music collection alone from a computer to a portable drive can be a godsend in freeing valuable space if your laptop has limited storage.
Another popular application of portable storage is for keeping critical backups of your data held on a PC or laptop. You may be able to keep a perfect clone of your entire computer’s internal drive, on standby and ready in the event that the computer is lost or its drive should malfunction.
Alternatively, you may choose just to back up the most important files and documents from your user libraries, such as text documents, photos, films, music and stored email. Some portable drives include software that can help automate this process, keeping your selected directories in sync whenever you plug in the drive or by a daily schedule.Performance
Now that USB 2.0 has been banished from all self-respecting storage, we find USB 3 as the standard for connection, letting these portable drives perform as quickly as the little disks inside will allow.
USB 3 is confusing, as USB 3.0 was retrospectively renamed to USB 3.1 Gen 1. There’s also a newer version, USB 3.1 Gen 2. This doubles the potential throughput from Gen 1’s 5Gb/s to 10Gb/s. In megabytes per second, these equate to 625 and 1,250 respectively. Pretty fast, then.
In reality, most SSDs top out at around 1000MB/s (although you can get faster), and this speed is highly dependent on the device you’re connecting it to so don’t automatically blame the drive if you experience slower speeds. Note that USB-C Gen 2 won’t go any faster when USB 4.0 arrives.
Check out the average speeds in the summaries above, and go to the full review for more detailed benchmark results.Protection
A rugged exterior will be handy if you want the freedom of being able to throw around the unplugged drive with less worry that it will damage the unit, and more importantly, lose your data.
Look out for shock-resistance ratings such as the US military MIL-STD-810F 516.5 (Transit Drop Test). This means that it should withstand being dropped 26 times onto a hard floor, once on to each face, edge and corner, from a height of 1.22m.
Flash storage – more commonly known as SSDs – can survive more brutal treatment, and some portable drives are even water-resistant. If you were to accidentally drop a portable SSD drive in water, then as long as the port covers are firmly closed, it will work fine to use it after it has been fully dried.
Some drives have an IP waterproof rating like phones.Reliability
It’s tough to say definitively which manufacturer makes the most reliable hard drives. While there’s a big difference between the technology used in traditional hard drives and SSDs, both have a limited lifespan, and this is why warranties are relatively short – typically two or three years.
What’s important is that you have a well-thought-out backup process and you don’t rely on any single drive to store precious files. Ideally, you should have three copies: one on a PC, phone or tablet, one on a backup drive and one in the cloud.Value
For many users, a portable storage drive may be an unavoidable commodity, and price will be the deciding factor.
Often an older drive will be cheaper thanks to a drop in price so you might get a bargain, but make sure you’re not missing out on new tech you’d benefit from.
Professionals will be willing to pay more for the faster and tougher SSDs out there.Security
The larger the drive, the more you can store – and the more you stand to lose in the event of losing the drive or having it stolen. This is where it pays to lock down that drive.
There are two ways to ensure the data is unreadable by other users. You can scramble the contents through hardware encryption. Or you can use a software application to encrypt either parts or all of the drive.
If you have an external hard drive or USB drive that you cannot format from File Explorer, you can check out this guide. It will help you to format the external hard drive or USB drive using Windows PowerShell. As you might already know that Windows PowerShell is an in-built tool, you do not need to install any third-party software.
Windows users can easily format an internal hard drive, external HDD or SSD, USB drive, etc. with the help of the in-built option. This option can be found in This PC or My Computer. Sometimes, this specific functionality can be a mess because of the corrupted hard drive or file, and you may not be able to format the drive. At such a moment, you have some other options. For example, you can use the Disk Management panel, Command Prompt, etc. to get the job done. Likewise, you can use Windows PowerShell to delete and create partitions, change the File system, etc. of your USB drive or hard drive.
Read: How to delete or format C drive using Command Prompt.What can you do using Windows PowerShell?
You can change the following things of an external hard drive or USB drive-
Format the hard drive
Change File system
Change drive letterFormat External Hard Drive using PowerShell
To format the external hard drive or USB drive using Windows PowerShell, follow these steps-
Plugin the USB or external hard drive to your computer
Open Windows PowerShell with admin privilege
Recognize the drive that you want to delete
Enter the command.
First, you need to plug in your external hard drive or pen drive so that your computer can do the job. After that, you need to open the Windows PowerShell with administrator privilege. For that, press Win+X, and select Windows PowerShell (Admin).
Now you need to identify the disk that you want to format. For that, enter the following command-Get-Disk
You should find the name of your external hard drive in the Friendly Name column. Also, you need to note down the number of the hard disk.
To initiate the process, enter this command-Clear-Disk -Number 2 -RemoveData
You need to replace the number 2 with the original number that is assigned to your drive. In this example, we want to format the Sony Storage Media (check the above screenshot), which is carrying the number 2. It might be different if your external hard drive is showing a different number.
Now you should get a confirmation message. Type Y and hit the Enter button.
It should take a couple of seconds to complete the process. Now, you need to enter the following command-New-Partition -DiskNumber 2 -UseMaximumSize -IsActive -DriveLetter Z
It will help you create a partition. Also, there are two things you should know about this command. First, the number 2 represents the drive that you formatted earlier. Second, the Z represents the drive letter that will be assigned to the external hard drive or USB drive.
After entering that command, a popup will appear to format your disk. You can use that popup window option, or you can use the following command-Format-Volume -DriveLetter Z -FileSystem FAT32 -NewFileSystemLabel USB
Here is one crucial thing that you should know. If you want to format the drive in the FAT32 file system, you need to choose that in the command. However, if you’re going to use the NTFS file system, the same command should look like this-Format-Volume -DriveLetter Z -FileSystem NTFS -NewFileSystemLabel USB
If you choose NTFS, it might take a couple of more seconds than FAT32.
After entering the last command, you will be able to use the external hard drive or USB drive regularly.
You can format USB Pen Drive using Command Prompt as well.
What Is SmugMug?
SmugMug is a subscription-based online photo/video-storing hosting platform. Users can set their devices to automatically upload their media files to the platform that offers unlimited storage capacity. The platform also facilitates the sale of photos and videos for amateur and professional photographers.
SmugMug was started in 2002 by the father and son duo, Don and Chris MacAskill, and is still owned by the original owners.
Apart from storing your images, SmugMug also allows you to create a private or public portfolio of your finalized images to share with clients. This offers clients the opportunity to browse through photography collections and select the images they would like to buy digitally or in print form. The sales are conducted through SmugMug’s secure online platform and sent to verified printer partners around the world.
SmugMug links to Android, IOS, and Lightroom for automated uploading and storing of your images.
Unlimited storage opportunities
Easy-to-use template options for your portfolio
Sell your images and videos with ease
Set up your site in an hour
Plenty of customization options
Built-in SEO features
Supports all file formats
No free version, only a 14-day free trial
Fewer template options than other platforms
Limited to printing companies verified by SmugMug
Free version available
Can set to automatically upload new images
Built-in image recognition
Good search filters
The free version has storage limitations
No offline view
Limitations of file sizes
Doesn’t support lossless file types
While the two platforms are owned by the same company and have a similar purpose, they have multiple differences too. When choosing between the two platforms it is important to determine your needs, budget, and long-term goals as a photographer.1. Photo Storage & Supported File Types
SmugMug offers unlimited storage with all four of the subscription plans available. This allows you to easily store all the images and videos you need in a safe and secure environment. At no point will you have a limitation on the number of media files you store on the platform.
SmugMug allows you to upload files in any format you want, including lossless file types. However, to upload RAW files, you need to sign up for SmugMug Source.
Photo storage & supported file types winner: SmugMug2. Gallery Creation For Your Portfolio
SmugMug offers customizable templates to choose from to create your portfolio. These templates allow you to create a display page for your images that suits your branding. There aren’t too many template options, but you should find something that suits your needs.
When signing up for SmugMug, you will be prompted to select the template for your profile. Once you choose a template you will be shown an example of the template in action.
You will then be asked to add details to your profile such as the gallery name and additional information for the site. You can then upload your first few images and select “Show me my site” to start your profile.
The gallery creation on SmugMug is easy to set up and creates a unique gallery that suits you and is then added as your own ‘site’ with a domain created for you with the SmugMug URL. You can also choose to add your own domain if you already own one.
Gallery creation for your portfolio winner: SmugMug3. Print Selling Options
SmugMug has eCommerce capabilities on the website and gives you the opportunity to sell your images to your site’s visitors. You can sell your images both digitally or printed in various sizes for your clients.
This feature makes SmugMug a great tool to use when showing images to potential clients who would like to look through your collection. Buyers can simply choose the images they would like and select how they would like to receive the images.
SmugMug has verified printers that service the United States, UK, Africa, and Asia. When selling images for print, they will be sent to one of the verified printers only, since there is no option to choose your own printing company outside of SmugMug’s verified partners.
The eCommerce section of SmugMug offers options to brand your site and to add watermarks to your images to prevent people from stealing your images.
SmugMug also allows you to add passwords to specific galleries which makes it easy to share your images privately with friends or clients who can then easily buy your images. You can customize the pricing for each gallery you set up. SmugMug offers an example price sheet, and you can add your own ones too.
SmugMug handles the selling of the images and works with the printers, once you have set up your store, you leave it up to the platform to process. You will then receive your money from the sales after SmugMug takes 15% of the sales as commission.
Print selling options winner: SmugMug4. Cost
SmugMug offers a 14-day free trial, after which you will need to select a paid subscription plan to continue using the service. There are four subscription plans to choose from, Basic, Power, Portfolio, and Pro.
If you are simply looking to store your images on a secure online platform, the Basic plan will work well for you. However, if you are looking to showcase your portfolio to potential clients and sell your images, you should consider a Portfolio or Pro plan.
SmugMug Source can be added to any of the four plans at an additional cost, and it allows you to upload RAW images to the platform. The Basic plan is currently $9 per month while the Pro plan is currently $42 per month.
The Monthly Plan is currently $8.49 per month and the 2 Year plan is currently $5.99 per month.Which Platform Is More Popular?
SmugMug receives roughly 611k visitors per day with 5.8 million page views each day as of writing. These numbers suggest that SmugMug is likely accessed by photographers sharing their page links with followers or potential clients.
SmugMug is the superior option for professional photographers who are looking for a secure platform to store all their images including RAW files, deliver images to clients, and create a customized portfolio. This platform is also better as it allows you to take your photography further by selling your images professionally with multiple selling options.
SmugMug is highly customizable, giving you the opportunity to showcase your images in the manner that suits your style of photography, giving you a sense of individuality and unique branding.
Difference between Alpha Testing and Beta Testing
Web development, programming languages, Software testing & othersAlpha Testing
It is a type of testing which is performed before the release of the product to identify all the possible bugs. It is done to simulate real users by using techniques like white box testing and black-box testing technique. It is done in a lab environment, and internal employees are the testers. The aim is to hold out the tasks that a typical user may perform.
It is done in two phases:
In-house developers do the first phase; they either use hardware-assisted debuggers or debugger software.
The second phase is performed by QA (quality assurance) team.
It is named alpha only because this kind of testing is done at the early stage, i.e. near the end of the software development. It is conducted before beta testing.Beta Testing
It is a type of external User Acceptance Testing as it is performed by real users of the product in a real environment. It is done to take feedback on the standard of the software/product. A limited number of end-users test the product as it gets released to a restricted number of end-users only. It reduces the risks of product failure as customer validation provides assures the hyperbolic quality of the product.Head To Head Comparison Between Alpha Testing and Beta Testing (Infographics)
Below is the top 12 difference between Alpha Testing vs Beta Testing.Key differences between Alpha Testing and Beta Testing
let’s understand the key differences between alpha testing vs beta testing:
Alpha testing is done by the testers who reside as an internal employee in the organization, while the end-users perform beta testing.
Alpha testing is done in a lab environment as it is performed mainly by the developers, while beta testing is done in a real-time environment as real-time users perform it.
Both of them ensure a good quality product, but alpha testing does not test the in-depth security and reliability of the product, while beta testing tests the robustness, reliability, and security of the product.
Alpha testing uses both white box and black box testing techniques, while beta testing uses only black-box testing techniques.
Bugs/Issues which are identified in alpha testing can be fixed and implemented easily as it is done near the end of the development, while feedback that you get in beta testing is implemented in the future release of the environment.
Alpha testing ensures that you are sending a quality product for beta testing, while beta testing ensures that the product is ready for the end-users.Alpha testing vs Beta Testing Comparison table
Below is the topmost comparison between Alpha Testing vs Beta Testing:
S. No. ALPHA TESTING BETA TESTING
1 Performed by the internal employees of the organization. Performed by the end-users or clients who aren’t the employees of the organization.
2 Performed within the organization or at the developer’s site. Performed at the client’s location or with the end-users.
3 Involves both white box and black box testing techniques. Involves only the Black box testing technique.
4 Do not test the in-depth security and reliability of the product. Tests robustness, security, and reliability of the product.
5 Done to identify all the possible bugs. Done for quality testing.
6 Requires a lab environment. It requires a real-time environment as it is done by the real-time users.
7 It takes more time as the execution cycle of the product is expected to belong. It takes lesser time as the execution cycle is of few weeks only.
8 Developers can address critical issues immediately. Feedback or issues are collected from the end-users.
9 Have mainly technical issues or some issues with the working of the product. User’s feedback also involves things like the addition of the new feature.
10 It can be incorporated/ implemented easily as it is done before the near end of the development. Will be incorporated/ implemented in the future release of the product.
11 Performed to ensure the quality before the beta testing phase. Performed to ensure that the product is ready for the end-user.
12 Finding testers is not a challenge as in-house employees are the testers. Finding the right users for testing and maintaining their participation could be a challenge.Advantages Advantages of Alpha testing
It helps to detect designing and functionality errors at an early stage.
It gives you a better view of the quality and reliability of the product at an early stage.Advantages of Beta testing
It reduces the risk of product failure.
It improves the quality of the product through customer validation.
It increases the satisfaction of customers.
It helps you to get involved with real-time users.Conclusion
In the Software world, no matter how much hard work you do, how many tests you perform, how good you make the interface or how many bugs you fix, your product is useless if your client and your end-users do not like it. Beta testing helps you to take feedback from your end and real-time users. It helps you to ensure that you are providing a quality product.
On the other hand, Alpha testing helps you simulate a real-time user environment before you send the software for Beta Testing; it helps to fix possible bugs so that you can send an eligible product for beta testing.
Alpha testing and Beta testing are inseparable from each other, and they play a major role in your testing lifecycle. So, you can’t imagine a product release without them.Recommended Articles
This has been a guide to Alpha Testing vs Beta Testing. Here we have discuss the alpha testing vs beta testing key differences with infographics and comparison table. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more.
There’s a lot more to selecting a till than most people realize. Today’s business owners have to not only choose between traditional cash registers and digital point-of-sale (POS) systems, but also navigate confusing terms and setups that require add-ons for full transaction functionality.
This guide breaks down the types of checkout options available for brick-and-mortar businesses, defines some standard terms, and outlines the research process so you can get the best fit for your small business.
Editor’s note: Need a POS system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.Pros of cash registers
Cash registers have long been an integral part of commerce. POS systems may make checkout easier and have more bells and whistles, but for millions of business owners, traditional cash registers are all that’s necessary. Here are some reasons why they remain popular:
They’re cheap and easy to purchase. Cash registers can cost as little as $100, and they’re easy to buy. A small business owner can pop into Staples and walk out with a cash register.
They’re easy to use. Using a cash register is pretty straightforward. It doesn’t require much training to get comfortable using it.
They’re safe and secure. Cash drawers on electronic cash registers automatically lock and can be accessed only by authorized users. This reduces the likelihood of someone stealing from your till.
They’re a simple solution for small, traditional stores. A register-based system doesn’t have as many features as a POS system, but that’s perfectly fine for many business owners. A cash register is ideal if you just want to ring up sales and process payments. Business owners who are wary of technology may feel more comfortable with a traditional cash register.Cons of cash registers
Electronic cash registers have many benefits, but there are also reasons that POS systems are popular. Here are the main cons to consider before you buy a cash register:
Their capabilities are limited. Cash registers do a good job of ringing up sales, processing payments, printing out receipts, and handling returns and refunds – but that’s about it. They have some reporting capabilities, but they don’t provide you with a full suite of features or data to help you run your retail shop or restaurant.
You can lose data. One of the benefits of using a POS system is that your data is saved either in the cloud or on a local server. That’s not the case with a cash register. If your cash register breaks or there’s a power outage, you may lose data.
They may require a merchant account. When you use a cash register, you have to open a merchant bank account that will hold payments from your customers. With a POS system, that’s part of the software.What is a POS system?
A POS system (sometimes called a POS cash register) is where your customers make their purchases. It consists of hardware and software that helps you complete sales transactions, run payments and gather and store customer data. POS systems can integrate a wide variety of features to help run your business smoothly, including inventory management, sales reporting, and customer loyalty programs.
When a retailer refers to a POS system, they’re usually describing a traditional POS system permanently installed in a fixed checkout location. It can include a single primary terminal with a complete built-in computer that lives at the main checkout counter. Sometimes retailers place POS systems in multiple checkout lines. In specific industries like restaurants, the POS system can be accessed and used by multiple employees in an order placement area.
Many large retailers have been using POS systems for a long time, but as of 2023, 56% of single-store retailers hadn’t yet moved to POS systems. For businesses that currently have a POS system, 30% plan to replace their POS software in 2023, and 22% say they will do so within the following year.
POS systems are growing more popular, and a significant driver is a need for retailers to manage the “buy online, pick up in store/curbside” trend due to changing customer preferences since the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re researching a POS system for your business, read our reviews of the best POS systems to learn about features and pricing.How do POS systems work?
POS systems consist of two main components: hardware and software. The hardware is a specialized computer with a built-in screen (the POS terminal), and the POS software generally comes preloaded on the system.
The POS system is connected to the internet or a local server. In addition to the POS system basics, most businesses also use other connected devices, such as credit card readers, handheld scanners, receipt printers and cash drawers.POS system features
POS terminals nearly always have touchscreen interfaces, built-in reporting and inventory software, cloud storage, admin features (like the option to set different permissions for different employees), and integrations with e-commerce stores. The more you spend on these robust machines, the more features you get, and generally, the better the software interface.
The type of POS software you need will depend on your business. Some systems let you integrate information across all your channels and locations into sales, inventory, staffing and financial reports.
Here are some standard POS system features:
Hardware: POS systems usually have a touchscreen and often come with an integrated or external credit card reader.
Software: POS system software includes capabilities for customer purchase histories and loyalty management, as well as coupons, discounts and promotions management. POS system software will allow you to run reports on sales by product, location and salesperson. You’ll also be able to run financial and business intelligence reports, helping you determine the busiest times of the day and week, the most effective promotions, hottest-selling products, and most efficient employees.
Employee scheduling and management: POS systems make it easy to schedule and manage your employees and their time-off requests.
Integration with your accounting system: POS systems can mesh seamlessly with your accounting systems, sharing information automatically, so you don’t have to upload and download reports manually.
Retail POS software systems: POS systems for retail stores allow you to manage inventory by size, color and item. You can also calculate shipping costs; manage barcodes; quickly look up products; and efficiently perform returns, refunds and exchanges.
Restaurant POS systems: POS systems for restaurants let you allocate orders to the appropriate prep stations in the kitchen and feature open-table management. You can also manage reservations, waitlists, online ordering and delivery options, as well as pre-authorize bar tabs.
Additional POS system features include complementary mobile apps, gift cards and appointment booking.POS system costs
Most SMBs should be able to find a POS terminal that suits their needs for between $1,000 and $2,500, but there are specialty models that cost more, with some retailing at more than $5,000 per unit. One significant benefit of a POS system that comes with all the necessary hardware is that it’s designed for heavy business use.Tablet-run POS setups
Some POS systems come with hardware (like a cash drawer, printer and stand) and software but require the purchaser to buy and use their own tablet (usually an iPad). These POS systems typically need to be replaced far more often than those that come with all the hardware out of the box, because one of the main components of these partial POS systems is a consumer product – such as an iPad – which isn’t made for heavy use.
These tablet-run POS setups are typically much more expensive than those with a built-in computer, but they work well for some businesses. (We’ll explain more about tablet-based POS systems in the next section.)
Did You Know?
In-store tablets can improve the customer experience by making checkout faster, saving space, improving product visualization and making employees more productive.What are mPOS systems?
An mPOS system is a mobile POS system – a software product that can be loaded onto a compatible tablet that you’ll have to purchase separately. Some mPOS systems include card scanners, drawers and printers; in fact, packages that include all these features are often listed under “POS systems,” even though they don’t include a computer.
More often, though, mPOS systems are offered à la carte. The purchaser buys a tablet stand and software, and then chooses the add-ons that best suit their business. Systems like these typically have easy-to-use interfaces, plenty of customization options and robust reporting.
On the flip side, they rely on the daily use of machines that aren’t designed for heavy business use, and since an iPad is usually the compatible device, replacing the screen and computer can be expensive.How mPOS systems work
The central part of an mPOS system is the software; it’s considered to be “software as a service,” or SaaS. The software is built to be compatible with mobile devices such as tablets or even smartphones. Sometimes, mPOS software isn’t as robust as regular POS software, so it’s crucial to ensure the system has the features you need.
mPOS systems can accept payment by manually keying in customers’ card information; however, connecting the mPOS system to a mobile credit card reader is cheaper and more efficient. Mobile card readers usually connect to the tablet or phone via Bluetooth, but some plug into the headphone jack (Android) or charging port (iOS).mPOS system features
mPOS systems have many of the same features as traditional POS systems.
Main hardware: mPOS systems usually require a tablet, such as an iPad or proprietary tablet, or a mobile phone.
Stand: An optional hardware feature is a stand integrated with the screen or used with a tablet.
External hardware: Some mPOS systems also include an external mobile credit card reader and an external receipt printer.
Software: mPOS system software will let you enter the credit card information manually. While functionality varies, at a minimum, you should have access to customer data, reporting and product information. mPOS systems may integrate with more robust POS software if your business has such a system.mPOS system benefits
There are numerous benefits to investing in an mPOS rather than a cash register or POS. Some SMBs choose mPOS systems for their size and appearance alone. mPOS machines are much smaller than traditional POS terminals or cash registers, and many entrepreneurs feel that an iPad checkout fits their overall image.
People who operate pop-up stores, run food trucks or sell their wares at changing locations (like street fairs or festivals) opt for mPOS almost exclusively due to the portability and quick setup.
Another reason for going the mPOS route is to decentralize the checkout process. Some brick-and-mortar stores and restaurants are changing how customers order and pay by having all the waitstaff or sales associates carry mPOS tablets with credit card scanners attached. The ability to link multiple mPOS devices to communicate seamlessly can speed up table service, shorten checkout lines and improve employee accountability (since each person has their own tablet).
A few early adopters on the smart dining scene are taking things one step further and placing tablet terminals at each table so customers can place their own orders.
The primary considerations of choosing an mPOS system are price and replacement costs. Many SMBs start with one centralized POS or mPOS terminal and then gradually add satellite tablets. If this approach appeals to you, make sure any POS or mPOS system you purchase can be used with other mPOS tablets. Also, ask the company if there will be additional fees for more devices, as is often the case.
iPad-based mPOS systems are particularly helpful for restaurants. The benefits of restaurant iPad POS systems include tableside payment processing, ingredient tracking and ease of use.
Did You Know?
Whether you have a POS or mPOS system, there are helpful POS reports your business should be running, such as employee reports, inventory reports, cost and profit analysis reports, and store comparison reports.Choosing between a cash register, POS and mPOS
When choosing between a cash register, POS and mPOS, consider your business as it is now and as it will be in the future. What that looks like will dictate which device is best for you.
A cash register makes the most sense for these cases:
Businesses that are just starting out and short on capital
Established businesses that need to ring up sales, accept payments and print receipts only
A POS system makes sense for these cases:
Businesses that want a system that not only rings up sales, but also tracks and manages inventory and helps with customer and employee management
Retailers and restaurant owners with multiple sales channels, both online and offline
Businesses that have several locations or need more than one register
An mPOS system makes sense for these cases:
Businesses that want to process payments outside of a physical store, such as at an event or outdoor market
Retailers and restaurant owners who want to bring the menu and payment processor to the customers online or tableside
Whether you ultimately choose a POS system, an mPOS system, an old-school cash register or some hybrid setup, be aware that manufacturers have no standardization for what’s included in a register, POS device or POS software. Ensure you know precisely what’s included and what isn’t, how much the peripherals cost, and what you can expect in terms of performance and ease of use.
Mona Bushnell and Donna Fuscaldo contributed to the writing and research in this article.
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