Using an External Hard Drive to Keep your Data Safe

by : Niall Roche

If you want to keep your data completely safe, you should look into types of data backup that do not require constant power supplies. While discs such as CDs and DVDs are a good way to make a smaller, permanent backup, external hard drives are another great way to back up your data safely. Just make sure that the drives do not stay connected to your computer and on - otherwise they'll be as at risk as your normal internal drives. You don't want your backup to be damaged in the same disaster that takes out your computer!

External hard drives are not actually new technology. In fact, these drives work in much the same way as a normal hard drive. Before external drives were affordable, there are some computer users who made external drives by setting internal drives into an outer casing. These worked fairly well, but they did not stand up to being moved around as much.

Over the last several years, external drives have become affordable, small, and easy to use. There are even some compact USB hard drives that can fit in a pocket. These drives are also much faster than they used to be, something that is being helped by the switch from serial and parallel connections to USB and firewire.

How much data can an external hard drive store? Most external hard drives are about the same size as a normal hard disk inside of your computer. In fact, one of the smallest capacities is just 60GB . However, there are many other disk sizes available at this point in time. Recently, external hard drives with as much as 1000GB of space have begun to appear on the market. It won't be long before we move into true Terabyte territory. These huge storage capacities are the main reason why external hard drives are rapidly becoming the most popular form of computer backup for the normal computer user.

If you do not want to pick and choose through the files on your computer to determine which ones you want to save, don't worry! Most of the hard drives will come with a CD that has drivers and some basic backup software on it. In most cases all you have to do is install the software, plug in the drive, and click "backup" and the software takes care of protecing your email, My Documents folder and all the most commonly backed up items.

Once again, if you are using an external hard disk for computer backup, do not leave the external drive connected to your computer. Additionally, you should also have more than one backup of your important information. You can do this by using an online backup service, or by burning your most important files to a DVD or five.

The best hard drives out there are going to be the ones built by major name brands. Maxtor, Iomega and Western Digital drives are known to be high quality and will last a long time. Purchasing a cheap, no-name external hard drive will save you money up front, but it is very likely that you will end up regretting it when it breaks down and you find out that your warranty is worthless.