Let‚Äôs face it. Technology today is a confusing and changing whirl of ever-changing products and capabilities. Its not surprising, therefore, that you may have questions about external hard drives. But everyone with a computer should know some basics about peripheral devices and external hard drives are some of the most powerful peripherals around. Take a little time to learn what they are and what they can do and you‚Äôll be glad you did.
What is an External Hard Drive?
An external hard drive is just that. It is designed along the same lines as the hard drive that keeps your computer running day in and day out. The main difference? It lives outside of a computer‚Äôs shell. Instead it is a peripheral device, but one that is incredibly powerful. It connects to your machine, or any other machine that you choose to connect it to, via a USB port. That connection allows the hard drive to talk to the machine it is connected to. Essentially, it can share data.
The Benefits of an External Hard Drive
An external hard drive is more powerful than some of the other drives you can connect to your computer. It is also more stable, although it does need to be cared for and protected in roughly the same way as an internal hard drive. The unique qualities of an external hard drive will allow you to use it in a number of different ways. For example, you‚Äôve probably encountered the external hard drive already if you‚Äôre searching for storage solutions for your data. Many people use them to create long-term back-ups of their most important data. But they can also be used to store and run applications and even an OS. This can be particularly useful if you need to run an application of your own to perform work on someone else‚Äôs computer. Alternatively, you can store a snapshot of your entire computer system on an external hard drive and use it to restore your computer if you are attacked by a virus. In the end, there are many different uses for this technology, almost as many as there are for the hard drive inside your computer.
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One of the most common uses for USB technology is data storage. It makes sense really, the whole purpose of the technology is to facilitate data transfer from one device to another. We use USB flash drives and hard drives all the time when we need a place to store our information‚Äîwhether it‚Äôs for a temporary transfer or long term storage. In the case of long term storage, however, the details of what and how you store your information become much more important. The stakes rise again when you are storing data for the back up of a machine. No one wants to take the trouble to make a back up, only to find its been corrupted or destroyed when you really need it. If you‚Äôre planning to make a back up using a USB drive, then here‚Äôs what you should know.
Pick the Right Device
The first thing that you will need to do is pick a device to store your data. Though there are many USB devices available for this sort of use it is best to consider an external hard drive. These drives are essentially the same as the ones in your computer. What makes them a better choice for long-term data storage is their stability over the long term and their large storage capacity. Something like a USB flash drive will tend to be less stable after multiple uses and though their memory capacity continues to grow, an external hard drive still has it beat.
Protect Your Data
Once you‚Äôve made your back up, you will want to take steps to protect your data. This also means protecting the drive you used to hold that data. An external hard drive, for example should be stored level and protected from vibration and sudden movement. A flash drive will need to be put in a safe place where it cannot get lost or damaged. If you are truly concerned about your data, you may want to consider taking some extra steps to protect it. These could include making multiple back ups or arranging for data encryption on your drive. If you take the necessary steps to protect your data, then it will be waiting for you when you need it.
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Choosing a USB drive might seem easy in this day and age. Technologically speaking, there has never been a better time to get a hold of the best technology on the market. Drives are smaller, faster, and more stable than they have ever been before, after all. Still, all this advancement has come at a cost. There are also more brands than ever to choose from, as well as more silly bells and whistles. It can be difficult to make an educated decision between all the options on the market. You can‚Äôt just buy any drive on the market either though, as this is the device you will be using to store your information. You need to take the time to pick the best USB drive for your intended purpose.
The USB Flash Drive
This is by far the most common type of drive used to transfer information these days. A flash drive is removable and rewritable, it generally weighs less than an ounce and can store up to 256 GB. These drives can have a 10-year data retention cycle and may allow as many as a million write or erase cycles. These drives are great for temporary storage and portability, but there are some drawbacks to them as well. For one thing, though you can get a flash drive in nearly any design you like, they are small and easy to lose. They‚Äôre also easy to forget and send through the wash with your favorite jeans. In addition, you will find that after a certain number of write or erase cycles, the drives become unstable and are no longer useful. This type of drive is best used with information that you are interested in moving between machines rather than information you plan to store forever.
The External Hard Drive
External hard drives are set up much like the drives that run your computer. This means that they do have some fragilities, but they are different than those of the flash drive. An external hard drive is a much better choice for your critical system back up than your flash drive, but don‚Äôt expect to use it to carry music or projects from the home computer to a computer at work or school.
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