Besides enabling an easy means for extending storage capacity, external hard disks also offer consumers an optimal medium upon which to back up large file collections from desktop and notebook PCs. As the reliability of hard disks continues to improve and buyers not only gain massive amounts of storage capacity at a great unit cost per gigabyte, they also often obtain useful software as an added bonus.
Backing Up with Bundled or Built-in Windows Software
In most cases, bundled software is adequate to secure a backup of important files that is inaccessible to unauthorized users. Those who want to skip the bundled software can turn to Windows Vista’s built-in Backup and Restore utility instead for a simple and capable no-frills backup solution. Those who are still using Windows 2000 or Windows XP can turn to Robocopy, which is available for free as part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools. To simplify its use, a GUI add-on is available, which lets users not wise to the ways or might of the command line to exploit its exceptional power safely and easily.
USB 2.0: Performance Bottleneck, but Still Fast Enough
Backing up to an external hard disk always takes a significant amount of time, simply because most such devices are attached to computers via USB 2.0. By today’s standards, this aging interface imposes somewhat of a bottleneck when it comes to massive file transfers, but remains adequate for backups. While both eSATA and FireWire 800 interfaces do offer higher file transfer rates, neither is universally available on all desktop or notebook PCs. By comparison, USB 2.0 is ubiquitous and is available to connect an external hard disk to nearly every computer known to man. Nevertheless, those with eSATA or FireWire 800 at their disposal will definitely want to use those interfaces for backups instead.
Samsung Story Station
Samsung appreciates the wide availability of USB 2.0 and uses it to provide connectivity for its Story Station. This makes good business sense because most users only have USB ports on their machines anyway, and Samsung can hold down costs by omitting other, more expensive interfaces.
The retro design of the Story Station calls to mind electronic devices from an earlier era, which adds to its appeal. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not you like the adjustable LED activity indicator, which can go from bright to dark depending on where you set it (though you can’t turn it off completely).
For file transfer rates, the Story Station delivers typical performance for a USB 2.0 device. It also offers buyers a collection of software that includes backup and protection tools, which is typical for devices in this category.