Benefits of External Hard Drives

Nov 27 19:40 2006 Claire J Rottenberg Print This Article

Now that most computers come with larger internal hard drives, many people may feel that they don't need an external hard drive. But there are several good reasons to add an external hard drive to your computer configuration. In this article, I give some of the reasons for using an external hard drive and discuss briefly what you should look for when buying a hard drive.

Now that most computers come with larger internal hard drives,Guest Posting many people may feel that they don't need an external hard drive. But there are several good reasons to add an external hard drive to your computer configuration. Many companies produce excellent hard drives and selecting the one that's right for your needs may not be an easy task. In this article, I give some of the reasons for using an external hard drive and discuss briefly what you should look for when buying a hard drive.

Storage Capacity

One reason for using an external hard drive is to increase your storage capacity. When I bought my iBook five years ago, I thought 10 GB would last me forever. I now use a Mac Mini with two external hard drives - a 120 GB drive and a 300 GB drive. What seems like more than adequate storage space now may seem miniscule in just a few months, so think to the future when you buy an external hard drive.

Backup Drive

An external hard drive can be used as an emergency backup drive. Hard drives crash and die, so having a backup is essential if you depend on your computer for work or for personal needs. If you're buying a hard drive to use as a bootable backup for Mac OS X 10.4, make certain that the drive has a firewire connector and that the drive is bootable (check with the manufacturer). Most drives that come with the Firewire 400 Oxford 911 chip are bootable. Also, if you plan on using more than one firewire device with your Mac and the computer has only one firewire port (like on a Mac Mini or MacBook), buy an external hard drive with two Firewire 400 ports.

Improved Performance

Using an external drive as your boot (or main) drive can speed up the performance of Macs with slower internal drives. I use an external 7200 rpm hard drive as the main drive for my Mac Mini and it's noticeably faster than the Mini's slower internal 4200 rpm drive. If you're planning to use an external hard drive as your boot drive, look for a 7200 rpm drive with a large cache buffer.

Portability

Many of the hard drives made today are small and lightweight and easily moved from one location to another. This can be useful if you want to take your data (for example, your iTunes library) with you when you go on a long trip, perhaps to visit friends or relatives. Just plug your hard drive into another Mac, boot up the computer using your hard drive as the boot drive and you'll feel like you're back home. If you want portability, look for one of the smaller but fast external hard drives made today.

Longer Life

If you use an external drive your life won't fall apart when your hard drive dies. Remember when the drive in your computer dies, you can't use the computer, but if your external drive dies, you'll still be able to use your computer. Furthermore, getting your external drive repaired might take less time and cost less than repairing the internal drive on your computer. Also, using an external drive as your main drive can save wear and tear on your internal drive, and, thus, help it last longer.

As you can see, there are good reasons to use an external hard drive. Just decide on how much storage space you need, how much portability you want from an external drive and how much you want to spend, and you'll be able to find the drive that's best for you.

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About Article Author

Claire J Rottenberg
Claire J Rottenberg

Claire J Rottenberg is an award-winning researcher and writer with over 20 years of experience using Macintosh computers. She is the author and publisher of ebooks for users of Mac OS X 10.4 software and a free monthly ezine on Mac OS X 10.4. Her website offers pages of free tips and lessons for using Mac OS X 10.4 software. homepage.mac.com/cjrtools/ebooks

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