External Hard Drvies

External hard drives are extremely useful for backing up or archiving large amounts of data, and they can be purchased at many major retailers including Best Buy, Staples, Walmart and of course online. They are a fairly commodity item that you can walk in and purchase, but there are a few things you should consider when selecting a specific model:

Don't spend more than $150 on a single external hard drive. Many good models can be had for less than $100.

Don’t buy the largest model out there. You can find drives in 1TB (1000GB), 500GB, 320GB, 250GB, etc, capacities, but for most offices 250GB or 160GB will be more than adequate.

Get USB 2.0, but also consider FireWire or eSATA. This is how the drive connects to your computer. External drive enclosures are advertised as “dual-interface” (USB and FireWire for example) or “triple-interface” (USB, FireWire and eSATA), allowing you to use the fastest interface supported by your computer. USB 2.0 is standard and all computers will support it. FireWire is faster but not as widely available, and eSATA is faster still (as fast as the internal hard drive in your computer) but only the latest workstations will support it.

Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Backing up to an external drive and keeping the original on a file server share or your local computer protects you if one copy is lost. However, archiving to a single location (deleting the original copy) can put you at risk if the archive is lost. For added protection purchase a second external hard drive or burn a second copy to DVD. And don't forget to store the backup and original or two archive copies in different locations. Floods, fire, theft and lightning all happen.