External USB Image by stock.xchng by johnny blue
The increasing availability of larger and more versatile storage of external USB drives has made this hardware one of the most important USB hardware for the purpose of backing up your operating system, applications, and files. Other storage systems/media such as DVD/CD, portable USB flash drive, and online are also useful depending on your needs - light"pocket" portability, quick copying (DVD/CD), secondary security (online), and so on. The use of the NAS system (network attached storage), might be suitable for a home network, something like the windows home server.
Many external USB drives also incorporate back up software, allowing an easy process in doing so. The jumbo 750 GB storage "one touch" Maxtor III is a example of simplifying external USB drive management and security. You could of course apply your own semi automated back up applications (e.g the free Drive Image XML or Syncback) or manual strategies. In fact if you have spare hard drives, you can easily assemble it with a external USB drive enclosure - I used a Dynalink enclosure (view internal enclosures - more here including dual set ups) which is pretty easy to assemble to house a hard drive. Hence you can easily swap in another drive, though you might get a slight speed drop for the older IDE drives of about 10 - 20% compared to it's normal PC internal use.
Still, a external USB drive is essential for backing up large (e.g. 20 GB or more) important programs and files for most of us, and it's relative portability is generally convenient, though care to not to drop it needs to be considered or excessive file transfer use (e.g. for viewing long movies). I used to worry about my external USB drive getting near hot, as the enclosure was a tight 3.5 inch fit, so I replaced it with a larger 5.25 inch, resulting in better cooling. So you need to ensure you not only consider the drive itself but the effectiveness and durability of it's enclosure.
You might want to consider external USB drive specific software in additional to backing up, which are some times a mini version of their normal counter parts. Perhaps you might know of such software which would be helpful, and other external USB drive information. If so, please leave a comment...
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