External Hard Drives

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This guide should help you decide on a few factors when choosing an external storage solution!

1. Storage Space

Size is the most obvious and important factor when choosing an external drive.
There is plenty of choice, usually ranging from between 40GB-1TB (1000GB)

You can work out how much storage space you will need. It is dependant on what you will be saving on the drive.
For example if you are going to be using the drive to store music.. you can store 5,000 tracks for every 20GB on the drive. So you would choose the size accordingly.

If you are to be saving video on the drive you will need more space than a music drive.

Simple word documents and spreadsheets take up very little room and so a smaller drive is required.

Most people, however, like to store a bit of everything on their drive. Or use it to back up all their files!
In which case the bigger the better.
It also gets cheaper 'Per Gigabyte' the more you buy.
e.g
80GB might be £55 (which is approx 68p per Gigabyte).
120GB might be £70 (approx 58p per Gigabyte).

The more you buy the more you save.

2. Connection ("Bridge")

Your choice of connection between the computer and the drive will be dependant on your computer system.
If your computer has a firewire port, try to find a drive with firewire connection. This method of connection gets the fastest transfer speeds. Otherwise, make sure your system has USB ports and buy a USB connection drive. Below are the average speeds of USB/FIREWIRE on an XP computer with AMD ATHLON 1700 PROCESSOR

FIREWIRE - READ - 38MB/Sec
FIREWIRE - WRITE - 24.4MB/Sec

USB - READ - 30.1MB/Sec
USB - WRITE - 24MB/Sec

3. Cooling Method

A cool drive, is a reliable drive. Basically if your drive gets too hot, it will become corrupt or loose data.

Many external drives now come with a built in fan. These cool the disk very well but can make unwanted noise.

Some drives are made of highly heat conductive alloys and dispurse heat by simply transfering it into the air.
There is a heat sink in contact with the drive which draws the heat to the outer casing where it is cooled by surrounding air.

If you dont mind a bit of extra background noise, choose a fan as these are the best cooling method.
Some of the more expensive non-fan models are just fine at cooling themselves silently! Others will not last long



Now that you have decided on the above three variables

for example.. you may have decided

You need 1TB for maximum storage capacity of media etc, a FIREWIRE connection bridge and a BUILT IN FAN
This would be at the higher end of the price spectrum but will give excellent performance.

OR

You may need only 40GB for backing up word documents etc, a USB connection bridge and NO FAN
This would be a budget way to back up files and should still be reliable if the heat sink is effective


Once you've made up your mind, search away on eBay! There are many sellers which provide excellent service and top quality products.

I Believe RPM SYSTEMS are the best. Providing next day delivery on both FAN and NON FAN drives. Plenty of storage space options and firewire and usb options. They are well priced and all come with a 12 month warranty! Check their items out here.. RPM SYSTEMS


I hope you found this guide useful and you get along well with your new drive!



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