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2.5" External HDD Spring Fever

2.5" External HDD Spring Fever
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Spring has arrived, which means that many of us get the unavoidable urge to begin spring-cleaning. This doesn't necessarily mean cleaning or remodeling your apartment, but there is a lot you can clean up on your hard drive. You can start by removing obsolete objects cluttering up your Windows desktop. However, taking an inventory of your hard drive contents is the real task. What do you really need, for example? Many people quickly conclude that they want to keep most of their files, folders and programs, and that it's time to get more storage capacity. This is reasonable, because prices for hard drives have dropped considerably. Capacities of 300-400 GB have already dropped below the $100 mark and there are many choices to upgrade the storage capacity of your computers. Geeks and more experienced users typically exchange the hard drive, or install an additional one. The increasingly popular option is to buy an external hard drive, because you can add several gigabytes to 1 TB via USB 2.0, Firewire or eSATA. Even inexperienced users can handle USB 2.0 storage products, as Windows XP or Windows Vista mount storage devices without asking the user for drivers at all.

However, selecting the right external storage product is not an easy thing to do, especially if you don't exactly know what you're looking for. There are so many products that look alike, and capacity seems to be the only obvious differentiator. Yet differences can be found when it comes to interfaces, physical dimensions for drives and enclosures, control elements such as backup buttons and the bundled software. Some solutions provide rudimentary backup support; others are capable of synchronizing data between the PC and the storage devices. And there are solutions to create images of partitions or entire hard drives.

Portable solutions based on 2.5" hard drives are more expensive and offer less storage capacity than their 3.5" siblings (30 to 200 GB capacity points are available in 2.5"). USB 2.0 typically is the most versatile interface, while Firewire 1394b and eSATA in particular offer much higher bandwidth and don't create a performance bottleneck.

This article covers storage products based on 2.5" hard drives and a 160 GB capacity. Seagate's and Toshiba's products are classic yet sexy external hard drives, while Hitachi's Travelstar Upgrade Kit was designed to replace your notebook hard drive while allowing you to use the old one in an external enclosure.

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