Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tech Tip Tuesday: Pick a Hard Drive

A few years back I was shopping in an office supply store and I saw something that totally caught my eye: a portable external hard drive. You could get a 10 Gigabyte for $99.99 or a 20 Gigabyte for $129.99. I thought to myself, I will wait until the prices come down. Well it's been several years and the prices haven't come down. What has happened is what has happened with a lot of technology. The price stays the same but the features improve. For the same $99.99 you get a 250 Gigabyte drive.

So, here's the tip! Pick a better hard drive, I have shared my surefire tech tip for buying technology before: Buy the biggest numbers you can afford. Some additional help though.

There are a couple of measures used for hard drives. First, is storage, here numbers are it. The larger the storage the more expensive the hard drive is likely to be. Also, the higher the number the less you are paying per gigabyte. Measuring price per gigabyte is a good way to compare several hard drives of different capacities.

Second, is the rpm. RPM stand for Revolutions Per Minute. The higher the number the faster the drive can spin. The faster the drive can spin the faster you can access the information stored on the drive. Typical numbers for RPM are currently 5400 rpm or 7200 rpm.

A couple of other features to look at are portability vs. external power source. Some drives are not designed to be portable but rather to have an external power source and sit on the same desk all the time. These drives are often less expensive per gigabyte but they aren't buffered against shock or movement. They are also often faster than their portable counterparts and physically larger. The portable drives are smaller and draw their power from the USB cord. Older drives and some newer drives often required a special USB cable with two connections in order to provide enough power. Be sure to choose a drive that meets your power and connection needs.

Finally, consider warranty. If you have a favorite computer manufacture you may want to do some research to find out what brand of drive they use and purchase from the same company. Also look at what kind of warranty and data recovery options are available for your drive. Some companies offer data recovery at low or no cost if their drive fails.

So now that you have an external drive what do you put on it? Well tune in next week.

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