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Top Tips for Choosing an External Hard Drive

External hard drives allow you to back-up personal information like music, videos and photos as well as work documents separately from your computer. If you're not sure what to look for when buying one, read on to learn the top tips that will help you make the best choice possible.

Choose a Reputable Brand

While purchasing a brand product doesn't always guarantee you'll get a quality product, the chances of this happening are much higher in the computer world. Non-name hard drives tend to be made with inferior parts that are more likely to break, offer fewer features and don't have full coverage warranties. Brand name hard drives cost more initially, but in the long run will save you money, time and aggravation.

If you're not sure if a brand is reputable, do some online research. It probably won't take more than 30 minutes to find enough reviews and feedback about certain brands of drives for you to figure out the equipment's reliability.

File Storage Capacity

After you've narrowed down which brand or brands you'd consider buying, figure out what type of storage capacity you need or want. The maximum file storage capacity can vary from as low as 40GB to up to 500GB. If you're backing up text files, you can often get away with a lower capacity. Videos and graphic files take up a lot of space so if you're planning on backing-up a lot of this information, it's a good idea to purchase the portable hard drive with the biggest capacity you can afford. A good way to guarantee you'll always get the size you need is to double your estimated storage capacity needs.

Recovery Features and Cache Size

Virus attacks happen even if you've done everything to protect yourself. Sometimes files can become damaged from electrical surges. A portable hard drive with recovery features will let you get back much of your lost or damaged data. A unit with a larger cache or buffer is also a good size but tends to cost significantly more. A larger cache allows more data to be stored and delivered faster since it stores it during the process of backing-up until the drive can finish the back-up. Cache size ranges from 2 MB to 16 MB.

Method of Connecting

Most modern methods of connecting portable hard drives are plug-and-play (PnP). USBs and Firewire are two examples of PnPs which allow you to connect the portable hard drive to different computers at different times as needed. Move the unit from your work computer, to your home computer to the computer at the library. A USB (Universal Serial bus) is designed to be tough and connect more than 120 different types of devices. Firewire is one of the newer methods of transferring information to a portable hard drive and you can connect as many as 63 devices on a Firewire bus -- which is less than a USB - but the data transfer speed is about 40 times faster.

 

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