Before mulling over the different options available, it is vital to first determine exactly what your storage needs are. If all you want is many more gigabytes, a hard drive enclosure with USB and or Firewire should fit the bill. You can buy the matching hard drive later yourself.
The latest product generation from respected manufacturers goes much, much further, however: Besides the capability to back up all your data on the external drive, today's models also include more or less user-friendly backup programs. To make use even easier, the trio of CoolMax, Maxtor and Seagate provide different controls.
CoolMax lets you backup the entire system drive or predefined directories at the press of a button; the same goes for restores. Maxtor's unit has a multifunction button, which can either start a backup or any other application. Per default, it will initiate a system backup, too. Seagate's device also offers a one-button backup.
CoolMax exploits optional user-defined controls to the fullest. The CD included launches an emergency DOS version to start system recovery. Although Maxtor and Seagate offer a wide range of useful backup features, they do not include the option of restoring the whole system that fast, since you need to do a basic OS installation first. However, Maxtor and Seagate offer the best look and feel as well as the most extensive range of interfaces.
All three manufacturers convincingly relieve users of the irksome task of making backups - even if the range of functions craves improvement. Maxtor and Seagate also provide automatic shutdown to go easy on the drive. A package consisting of the XtremeFiles and a hard drive of your choice, however, is generally cheaper.