What do you look for in a portable external hard drive?
The cost of hard drive space has been coming down over the last few years, with the introduction of technologies such as SATA it makes much more sense to have a portable external hard drive, today they can really picked up for less than $100, but there are a few point to think about when looking around for one.
Do you need it to be portable or ultra portable? Generally they come in two different physical sizes, 3.5” and 2.5” both have their good and bad points.
The 3.5” drive is quite bulky, plus it does require an extra power supply, but on a positive note it does come in larger sizes, presently up to 1tb. The 2.5” portable external drive is very portable, the later generation being only slightly bigger than the size of the physical drive in its case, this means it can easily fit in a pocket.
Another good point, the drive is powered from its connection to the computer, meaning no extra power supply. On the downside smaller external drives do have smaller MB size limits, currently around 300gb.
So do you really need hard drive MB space or hard drive physical size? The next point to look out for is the interface, you really have a choice of 2 types of interface USB or Fire Wire, both USB and Fire Wire come in different flavors or specifications, with USB make sure your computer and the portable external hard drive are both USB 2, this is around 10 times faster than USB1.
Fire Wire although the later types are faster than USB2, the faster interfaces are pretty much limited to Macintosh computers and generally not pc’s.
If you’re not sure if a computer is USB 1 or 2 a simple method is to plug a USB2 device in and simply wait for the message you have plugged a high speed device into a low speed port, which means you have a low speed USB 1 port on your computer. If that’s the case all is not lost, if you have desktop computer you can simply add a USB2 PCI card , or for a laptop a PCMCIA USB2 card.
If you’d like something a bit more than a simple external hard drive how about a LAN server? With this you can basically share it between many different computers.
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