May 19, 2006

The Pros and Cons With External Hard Drives

USB disks are a useful way of carrying your degree work with you and transferring it between different machines, but they are easily lost, damaged and do not have enough storage for full backup and archiving of all your degree work and research material.

For full backup or archiving of your degree work you may like to consider a USB hard drive. There are two basic types available:

Mains Powered

As the title suggests, these drives require their own power source, i.e. a spare plug socket near your PC. A second (USB) lead connects the drive to the computer.

Advantages

Very cheap for the amount of storage they offer

Disadvantages

  • Create more mess with wires
  • Are too bulky to carry around with you
  • Require a power source, so not suitable on the move
  • Mains powered drives are really for extra backup at home, for example backing up a laptop.

USB Powered

These drives are powered via the USB connector on your machine.

Advantages

  • Only one wire, i.e. the wire connecting to the PC
  • Usually pocket size, maybe 10cm x 10cm x 1cm
  • Suitable for use on the move, with a laptop for example

Disadvantages

  • More expensive for the amount of storage they offer
  • Short connecting wire, or no connecting wire at all (direct plug)
  • If no connecting wire is present, the plugs are easily damaged

Personally I do consider USB powered drives suitable for archiving or backup, due to their comparative fragility, though with current models offering between 100GB and 4TB pf storage, they do have the capacity to be used in this way.

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