External, But How? Mobile Storage Solutions Compared

It's Friday afternoon, somewhere in a multimedia developer's workroom. The project is coming along nicely, spirits are high and the weekend is right around the corner. Suddenly, Windows shatters the mood like an atomic bomb-the hard drive is out of space!

Things start getting a little hectic at this point. The developer rummages through his drawers, but the last backup is already several weeks old and all his personal data - the MP3 collections, photos and videos he collected over the last few months - haven't been archived anywhere. He could delete a few directories "on the fly", but then he might as well take a hammer to his computer. What he really needs is another hard drive.

He knows that using only one hard drive also has the disadvantage that the data it contains is basically firmly fixed to one location. He can't move his multi-gigabyte video archive without a lot of work. Plus, he doesn't really relish the idea of mounting and disassembling a hard drive, either. His ADSL connection doesn't have a fast enough transmission rate, and SDSL was too expensive for him. The only alternatives left to him are CDs and DVDs. But CDs would turn him into a DJ and using DVDs - ideally RWs for transporting - is expensive and similarly time-consuming.

Just about every serious user has gotten into a similar jam. It may not have been an acute lack of space - a virus, hard-drive defect, lightning strike, flooding, accidental operating errors - the risk of data loss has continued unabated for several years now.

Of course, there's always the option of mounting an extra hard drive for security purposes, but it offers little flexibility. The real solution is to install external devices that house a small controller to connect to the computer via USB 2.0, Firewire, or both.

Several months ago, HighPoint came out with an alternative to connect hard drives externally via serial ATA. This e.SATA product family includes both PCI controllers and the matching external housing. To compare this approach with traditional devices, we used external drives from Maxtor and Transcend.

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