External Hard Drives with Trimmings Aplenty

It is comforting to know that you've got plenty of storage space. Increasing availability of big hard disks with capacities of 300-500 GB make this feeling easy to attain, and drives of 200 and 250 GB can be had for a song. In this brave new world, external hard disks serve to extend additional storage space, to serve as a backup medium or to serve both needs at once.

Inside any external hard disk you'll find a conventional disk drive with its own mini-controller. The device typically connects to a PC using a USB or FireWire connection, and should represent a simple and adequate solution.

Many external drive vendors focus their efforts on the external enclosure and its interfaces. Historically, drive manufacturers have often resisted offering complete solutions built around their components, despite the potential profit-margin opportunities such offerings could represent in this competitive business. Now, however, a form of one-upmanship appears to be underway, as competitors seek to attract customers by adding more extras to their basic offerings. Favorites among these include programs installed on the drives, such as backup software to help put them to work (and, of course, to fill them up).

Nearly everybody has reams of data that they'd be glad to move over to and organize on a big external drive. But when the time comes to tackle complex data protection schemes, things get dicey. Nobody can deny that it's essential to secure copies of important information, such as e-mail messages, address books, configuration data of all kinds, plus loads of project and personal files. But much of the important stuff is lost inside the impenetrable jungles from Windows installations and registry files. This mish-mash helps explain the appeal of disaster recovery solutions that promise to restore entire systems after a crash or virus incident without exacting too much pain and suffering on their users. For this, Fastora, Maxtor and SmartDisk seek to offer systems that not only offer backup and data storage solutions but to do a lot more in the way of functionality compared to the competition.

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