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March 2014
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Guide to External Hard Drives
Need to back up your files? Get an external hard drive.

When it comes to computer hardware, there is a common concern - whether you are talking about the average consumer or a large corporation. That concern is safety, in particular, the safety of files. In simple terms, no one wants to lose their files, pictures, videos or music due to hardware failure.
How is this problem addressed? Regular backups. In the early days of computing there were floppy disks, and then internal hard drives in computers. Today those internal hard drives still exist, but backups are being supplemented by external hard drives. Here are a few things to consider before purchasing this hardware.
An external hard drive is exactly what it sounds like. It's a piece of hardware that serves as a storage device for a computer's files. In most cases, people will not necessarily back up their entire drive, though this is always a possibility. Instead, most will back up their particular music, movies, important files, financial records, personal videos and pictures. Some drives are designed to remain in one place, such as an office or home network. Other, smaller drives are portable and can be carried in a purse or briefcase.
External hard drives are typically designed to handle large amounts of data. As consumers and businesses produce more and more files, storage capacity becomes an issue, particularly with the size of video files. When buying an external drive, it is important to consider not only current needs, but also what file needs there may be in the near future as technology changes. For example, the My Book external drive by Western Digital can store up to 4T (terabytes) of data, and this drive can be found at various retailers for less than $160. More information is available at www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=870.
Connected or wireless
One consideration with external hard drives is whether they should be connected via USB cable or wireless network. For desktop users, a wired connection typically makes the most sense, but laptop users may look for drives that offer the convenience of wireless backups. In most cases, the wired backup means greater speed. There is also the issue of operating systems between PC and Mac, and whether users want to set up automatic backups or handle this task themselves. Backups can typically be set to happen daily, but some may feel comfortable with weekly or monthly backups, depending on how often files are changed.
Cloud versus hardware
One other consideration is an Internet-based backup system. While the "cloud" continues to be a key part of online backups, there are many consumers who still find it more comforting to back up files to a standalone device that can be stored in a home or office.
Eventually, all files may be backed up to wireless off-site locations, but for now the external hard drive remains a key part of file safety.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado


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