The hard disk market is booming thanks to steadily climbing drive capacities. And not just in the professional market segment, either. This phenomenon is probably best described using the words “big, fast, and cheap.” At the consumer level, a continuing trend is for users to add a second, third, or fourth hard disk to their PCs. For all such additions, portable external drives remain the most popular choice.
One reason for this ringing success comes from such a drive's ability to provide more storage capacity to all users with simple external connections, without requiring any technical knowledge for their installation and use. Most often, this means users will employ USB 2.0 to connect drives to their PCs. USB 2.0 has, in fact, become a de facto standard, offering adequate performance for nearly all applications. And in many cases, it doesn’t even require users to plug in through an external power supply to a wall socket. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Fast and Flexible Enough for Everyday Use
External portable hard disks are not only simple to use, but users can also move them around to multiple computers. This makes it much easier to exchange large files with friends and family, even when USB 2.0 imposes a performance bottleneck on the file transfers involved. And even this bottleneck will soon be a thing of the past, with USB 3.0 on its way into the mass market (it’s over 10 times faster than USB 2.0, with a maximum data rate of 5.0 Gb/s for 3.0 vs. 480 Mb/s for 2.0).
Shrinking Prices, Improved Reliability
Consumers are cashing in on high demand for storage devices, thanks to sinking prices. If you buy a Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.B now, you’ll pay about $0.0722 per gigabyte of storage. Along with dropping prices, technical advances and more efficient production processes mean that reliability for modern hard disks continues to improve under normal use.
The Consumer's Backup Medium of Choice
High reliability is not the same thing as an absolute guarantee against any and all drive defects, however. That’s why users should pay special attention to good file system organization and perform regular backups of important files, to fend off data losses and system woes. In fact, we put Samsung’s Story Station to work for this story for this very purpose, but you could use any similar external drive from another vendor in the same way.