Which Portable Hard Drive Should You Buy?
I'm a commercial artist and need to carry around my work in digital form. I don't want to keep the files on my laptop, because it could be lost or stolen. I'd prefer a portable storage gadget that I can keep in a pocket or handbag. What type of portable hard drive would you recommend?
What to Look For In a Portable Hard Drive
Portable hard drives are smaller, more rugged, and often sexier than external hard drives used around the home or office. Portable hard drives are designed to be in motion most of the time, in a coat pocket, briefcase, or laptop bag.
Like mobile phones, portable hard drives make a certain fashion statement about you when you pull one out in a coffee shop or client meeting. But of course, performance, capacity, and price are what really matter.
Portable does not mean small when it comes to storage capacity. Today's portable hard drives pack up to a terabyte of storage space into a wallet-sized chassis. 500 GB portable hard drives are common, and cost under $100.
Data transfer speeds of portable hard drives are in the 50 to 75 MB/second range. The fastest portable hard drives use USB 3.0. Firewire 800 and 400 are popular interfaces as well, if your device supports one of them. Rotation speeds are generally between 5400 and 7200 rpm. On-board cache memory is usually between 8 MB and 16 MB.
Check Out These Six Portable Drives
The Iomega eGo 1 TB portable hard drive is bigger (5 inches long) and heavier (14.4 ounces) than most by a long shot. But its huge capacity, USB 3.0 interface, sleek design, and ability to survive 7-foot falls make it a very popular accessory. It comes in red, blue, or silver, at a street price of around $120.
Seagate's GoFlex Slim is only 9 mm thick. Perhaps that's why its capacity is only 320 GB. But it spins at 7200 rpm and connects via USB 3.0. The current version is for both Mac and PC, but a more Apple-looking style is planned just for Mac. The MSRP is $99.
The A-Data Sport SH93 portable hard drive looks like something Jacque Cousteau designed. Heavily cushioned with yellow and black rubber, the Sport is water- and shock-resistant, designed for camping trips and other rough environments. This 320 GB USB portable hard drive lists for $115. It does not include backup software (or scuba gear), so you will need to provide your own.
The Rocstor Rocport ID9 comes with three interfaces: Firewire 400 and 800, and USB 2.0. The $140 Rocport holds only 320 GB of data, however. Its red-and-black case is stylish in a boxy way.
The $195 CMS V2ABS sports some very useful software that makes a mirror image of your laptop's internal hard drive in just a few minutes. The proprietary Bounceback Professional software lets you boot from the portable drive if the computer's internal drive fails, making the V2ABS ideal for backups of mobile or desktop machines. USB 2.0 is its only interface.
The Western Digital MyPassport Elite comes in 500 GB or 1 TB models priced at $130 and $179, respectively. Although it's a USB 2.0 only drive, MyPassport Elite comes with the versatile WD Smartware software and a low-profile docking station. There's even a little LED display that tells you how much storage space is available.
Your feedback on portable hard drives is welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 22 Jul 2011
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