Five Tips for Consideration When Choosing External Storage Devices

Gnomie Evan writes:

This last Christmas, I got an Iomega 500 GB External HDD. I had thought long and hard about what I wanted to ask for as my storage solution, and this is what I finally came up with. I thought it might be helpful for people to consider some things if they are looking into external hard drives.

  1. Consider what you are going to be using it for. If you are going to be using it to store lots of HD movies, you are going to want a larger hard drive. If you simply want a hard drive for portability, consider smaller, more portable hard drives — usually in the 150 to 300 GB range. If you are going to use it as a backup solution, make sure that your external is significantly larger than your internal — backup software will fill it up quickly with periodic updates.
  2. Determine what connection you want to use for your hard drive. If you are looking to use it from place to place and transfer between computers, go with USB2 — they are fairly universal and have become a standard. If you are looking for speed and your drive is mostly a desktop one and more or less stationary, and if you have a FireWire 400 or 800 port, use that as your connection. FireWire 800 just blows USB2 and FireWire 400 out of the water, but even FireWire 400 is faster than USB2. I know, it’s misleading. You will look at data transfer rates, and USB2 is rated at 480 mbps vs. only 400 mbps for FireWire 400, but these are merely hypothetical. In reality, FireWire 400 is much quicker at large data transfers.
  3. If you make your own externals, make sure you that you did your homework. I had a friend who put together an external HDD himself and plugged it in and the thing caught fire! Whatever he did with his connections was definitely ill-advised.
  4. Understand that, just like any other hard drive, externals will fragment and may require periodic cleanups with some third party software (unless your backup software stores data in such a way to prevent fragmentation).
  5. Make sure your hard drive is in an area where it will not overheat. Do not place it in a way that the airflow or vents are blocked. They will overheat. Leave space between the back and the wall and don’t put it in an enclosed space as these can cause heat to build up in the space and can potentially ruin your hard drive.

I hope that this might help other people in the process of deciding on a storage solution.