Archive for July, 2009

Archive for July, 2009

USBNow Super Sale – & We Mean Super!

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Super Sale: Digital Photo Frames, Headsets, Audio/Visual, Adapters & Connectors, USB Flash Drives & More!

We’ve taken a selection of already reduced products and reduced them further! You can save up to an additional 35% off!

You can expect to find items like Digital Photo Frames, Bluetooth & Audio Headsets, Audio/Visual Peripherals & Adapters & Connectors.

What’s more, if you purchase any of our large Digital Photo Frames we’ll throw in a 1.1″ Mini Digital Photo Keyring for FREE!

So, you might find a Digital Photo Frame and preload your summer holiday snaps or whether you like the idea of being totally handsfree on the move or maybe you require a Golf Plated HDMI cable to run to your new TV, or maybe you just require an RS232 adapter… They’re all on offer!

Click here to save now!

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SALE on Freecom Hard Drive Units

Monday, July 27th, 2009

We’re having a blow-out sale on all of our remaining FREECOM hard drive units. Check out the banner from our home page for availability and prices. Many units are now below costs but then they are gone thats it so grab yourself a bargain whilst you can.

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When it’s better not to use a Hard Drive Enclosure

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

When it’s better not to use a Hard Drive Enclosure

Whilst Hard Drive enclosures are an excellent way of reusing your old hard disk drive and creating a back up solution there are times when their use is not appropriate.

Hard Drives enclosures are really designed as a permanent or semi permanent solution for your HDD. This is simply because the enclosures are designed to provide a “protective wrapper” around the Hard Drive that then allows you to carry it with you or in the case of larger enclosures for 3.5″ HDD’s to stand it on your desktop.

To use the enclosure you’ll typically need a screwdriver and a few minutes to open the case, carefully insert and connect the Hard Drive, secure the Hard Drive in place and then reseal the enclosure using the supplied screws. Not difficult to do but it does take a little time and its not something you want to be doing every day.

So, if you’ve got lots of Hard Drives that you want to use, to test or recover data from then a dedicated enclosure is probably not the way to go. Similarly if you’re an IT or support engineer and part of your job is to test Hard Drives an enclosure will use up valuable time and just be cumbersome. You’d also have to have an enclosure for each size and type of Hard Drive, e.g. 2.5″ Hard Drives, 3.5″ Hard Drive and then a version for IDE and a version for SATA – simply not practical.

A much simpler option in these circumstances is to use a USB to IDE and SATA Cable kit.

These IDE and SATA kits are worth their weight in gold because they support pretty much every Hard Drive you will encounter, they come with a power supply so that you can independently power the hard drive and they connect via the ubiquitous USB.

They’re not pretty to look at and you wouldn’t use then for a permanent connection but if you’re simply looking for a quick and effective way to test hard drives or to recover data from hard drives then these kits are an excellent solution.

They work with all current PC operating systems and with Macs and the easy set up means you can be up and running in seconds. (Remember for 3.5″ Hard Drives you’ll need to set the “jumpers” to Master before connecting the HDD or it will not be recognised).

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Key Considerations when buying a Hard Drive Enclosure:

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Key Considerations when buying a Hard Drive Enclosure:

Physical size – First make sure you’re clear about the size of Hard Drive you have as this is going to be critical. Hard Drives typically come in three different sizes 1.8″, 2.5″ and 3.5″ with the 2.5″ and 3.5″ being by far and away the most popular.

But beware its no good taking your ruler and trying to measure the hard drive to see which one you have because the sizes refer to the “disk platter” inside the Hard Drive casing. These dimensions have developed as a short hand description over the years and are commonly used to describe the size of the Hard Disk and also the Hard Disk Enclosures they fit.

The actual physical dimensions of each size of Hard Drive (should you want to measure one) are as follows:

1.8″ Hard Drive are 54 mm × 8 mm × 71 mm
2.5″ Hard Drvies are 69.85 mm × 9.5-15 mm × 100 mm
3.5″ Hard Drives are 101.6 mm × 25.4 mm × 146 mm

The 1.8″ Hard Drives are typically used in digital audio players, and very small notebooks, 2.5″ Hard Drives are usd in standard Laptop PC’s and 3.5″ Hard drives in Desktop PC’s

There is one further “gotcha” to be aware of as far as size is concerned for 2.5″ Hard Drives and that is they come in different thicknesses (height) with 9.5mm being the default standard but 12.5mm being used by some hard drive manufacturers for first generation high capacity drives. Most 2.5″ hard drive enclosures are designed for 9.5mm thick hard drives and will not support the larger 12.5mm version.

IDE or SATA – Your hard drive enclosure needs to support the interface on the end of the hard drive. Your hard drive will either have an IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) interface (subsequently renamed ATA) or a SATA (Serial-ATA) Interface. The IDE/ATA interface is pretty easy to identify as it has 2 rows of pins (40 in total) then some additional Pins for the “jumper” settings. SATA hard drives have no pins as such but two flat “spade” type connectors.

* Interface – Once you’ve worked out which size Hard Drive you have and what the interface is on the end of it you then need to think about how you want the Hard Drive case you’re going to put the drive in to connect to your PC. There are 3 basic options:
o Firewire
o Combinations of the above, e.g. USB and Firewire

USB is by far the most popular option and providing its USB 2.0 the data transfer speeds are good and broadly comparable with Firewire 400. If you have SATA on your PC and you can take advantage of an eSATA connection from the Hard Drive Enclosure then the data transfer speeds will be around X3 times that of USB 2.0 or Firewire.

Powering the Hard Drive Enclosure – 1.8″ 2.5″ Hard Drive enclosures are BUS powered – that is they draw power from the USB port to spin the hard drive and power the unit. Most of these smaller enclosures are supplied with what’s commonly referred to as a “Y” cable. These cables have a single connection to the enclosure and allow for the other end to be connected to two separate USB ports. Sometimes the maximum 500Ma that a USB port can deliver is not enough to spin the hard drive so connecting the 2nd lead will provide the power needed (note: using the 2nd lead is not always needed. It depends on the hard drive you are using and whether your USB ports are delivering a true 500Ma output)

All 3.5″ enclosures are supplied with a Power Cable/unit to power the enclosure.

Fans – None of the smaller enclosures come with or need a fan but some of the larger 3.5″ enclosures do. Typically the fan can be independently switched on/off but providing you are buying a good quality aluminium enclosure then fans can be more trouble than they are worth. The enclosures are designed to dissipate heat so whilst they might get a little warm adding a fan can make them noisy and intrusive.

There are other less tangible considerations such as design, colour, flashing lights but most of these are just a matter of personal choice. The key is to buy the right enclosure for you hard disk drive with the correct interface from the enclosure to your PC. Don’t always buy the cheapest either because there are some enclosures that not that well made. Read reviews from other customers or speak to people that have used them or sell them and get them to recommend a solution for you. USBNow carry a wide range of Hard Drive Enclosures and are always happy to help.

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Hard Drive Enclosures – The Basics

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Hard Drive Enclosures (also known as Hard Drive Caddy’s) are rigid cases that Hard Disk Drives “sit” inside. They are designed to support standard Hard Disk Drives of all types and sizes and once installed inside the enclosure, the enclosure can be connected to the computer via USB, Firewire or e-SATA.

Enclosures are often used to house hard disk drives salvaged from an old PC but they can also be used in conjunction with new hard drives (You’ll need to format the new hard drive once in the enclosure before it shows up on your PC). The benefit of using a new hard drive is that you will typically buy a hard drive with a larger storage capacity than any hard drive you salvage. Salvaged hard drives are effectively “free” and the motivation for using a salvaged Hard Drive is often to recover data from the drive (particularly if it was removed from a failed PC) and then to put the drive to good use as a back-up by using it in an external Hard Drive Enclosure.

Because hard drive enclosures are external devices they are portable and can be used on multiple PC’s or used to transport large amounts of data between say work and home. The smaller enclosures used to house hard drives from laptop PC’s don’t even require an external power supply because they draw all of their power from the USB connection. Larger enclosures will have their own independent power supply. Key benefits of Hard Drive Enclosures are:

Flexibility of Connection Type: Enclosures give you the freedom to connect your hard drive to your PC in a variety of ways. USB is the most common but you can now buy hard drive enclosures with Firewire or e-SATA connection options. Typically USB is the default connection and Firewire and/or e-SATA available in addition to the default USB connection.. Hard drive enclosures with dual connection options like this are referred to as “Combo” Hard Drive Enclosures.

Interface: Most new hard disks are now SATA (Serial-ATA) disks but if you are looking to use a hard disk salvaged from an old PC it’s probably going to have an IDE interface (also described as ATA or PATA). The IDE interface is pretty easy to distinguish as it has 2 rows of 22 Pins along the connection interface. A SATA Hard Disk will have to simple plastic looking connectors. Ensure you buy your hard drive enclosure with the right interface.

Back Up: External hard drives can be used to back-up selected files, folders or for creating a “ghost” image of the main hard disk installed on a PC. In the event of a failure of the main hard drive the “ghosted” back up can then be used to get you up and running again in no time at all. Some hard drive enclosures come with “back-up buttons” and software that make this easy. If you buy a hard drive enclosure without this feature and you don’t want to manually manage the backing up of files you could consider popular software solutions like Acronis True Image .

If like many the use if the external hard drive is to copy or back-up selected files then it’s simply a matter of selecting the external drive as the target drive to save to or “dragging and dropping” files onto the external drive.

Security: If you have sensitive or financial data then it makes sense to store this on the external hard drive. Because this drive is independently powered it can be turned off when not in use and this then removes it from the threat of any virus, or Trojan horse software. It also gives you the freedom to physically remove the hard drive and store it securely away from the PC

Archiving: Whether you are downloading music and videos from the Internet, saving Digital photo’s from your camera or digitizing your old record collection today are rapidly accumulating very large amounts of data and when all of this data is stored on your primary PC’s drive it can cause problems with access speeds, increase the need for defragmentation of the Hard disk etc.

Hard drive enclosures allow you to move or duplicate this data onto an external hard drive thus enhancing the performance of your primary drive.

Running an alternative Operating Systems: If you ever fancied having a “play” with Linux but don’t want to install it on your PC then you could install it on a hard drive in an enclosure and run it from this. You will need to tweak you Motherboard BIOS settings if you want to boot from the external hard drive as well as the primary drive installed on your PC but it’s not that hard

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Washable Mouse from Belkin

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

New In..

This excellent washable mouse from Belkin is idea if your mouse is used by various people, perhaps its a mouse used in a public place or by more than one person at work (library, hospital, warehouse etc.). Why’s it ideal – well, not only is it an excellent mouse but with all the concern there is now about germs, bugs and swine ful with this mouse you can wash it and clean it!

There’s no loss of quality either as its an optical mouse with 1200 dpi. It can be washed under running water.

Belkin Washable Mouse

Belkin Washable Mouse

Comes with the usual warranty and peace of mind you get when buying a Belkin branded product.

Belkin Mouse - washable

Belkin Mouse - washable

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Building a Low Cost Portable Back-Up Solution

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Whilst the price of USB Memory Sticks continues to fall, the larger 16GB and 32GB versions are still pretty expensive. Whilst the more affordable 8GB memory sticks offer a reasonable amount of storage for many its not enough to act as a true back up solution. Lets face it today many people are downloading or copying music file, movies, photo’s, games and the occasional work file. All of this should be backed up and stored safely and USB Memory sticks just aren’t man enough for the job.

For some people backing up files is not enough because they need the data to be portable, so large back up hard drive solutions from companies like Maxtor, Lacie and Freecom that require a mains power unit are not really suitable. These products are excellent if they can positioned next to the PC you are backing the data up from but they’re really designed to stay in one place. Their size, weight and need for external power makes them unsuitable as a portable backup solution.

A more affordable and truly portable solution that does not compromise on quality or storage capacity is to use a 2.5” hard drive enclosure and a 2.5” (laptop sized) Hard Disk.

2.5 hard drive enclosure

2.5" hard drive enclosure

A new 320GB 2.5” hard disk won’t costs a fortune and when combined with a laptop hard drive enclosure will give you a high capacity portable storage solution. But, the real cost saving opportunity is using an enclosure with a hard disk recovered from an old, discarded laptop – even if the hard disk you recover is only 80GB you’ll still end up with a back-up solution for the cost of an 8GB Memory stick!

Taking the hard drive out of the laptop is relatively easy providing you’re handy with a screwdriver and inserting it into a hard drive enclosure is equally easy – the connectors on the end of the hard drive just push into the interface inside the enclosure and typically a couple of screws hold it all in place.

If you’re using a new hard disk drive then it will need formatting before it can be used to store data on. Recovered hard disks typically just plug and play but make sure if the drive has jumper settings that its set to “master”.

hard drive enclosure

hard drive enclosure

Good quality enclosures for 2.5” disks will be manufactured from aluminium (to aid heat dissipation), they’ll come with leather carrying case (to protect the case and contents) and all the necessary cables you need. The beauty of these smaller cases is that they don’t need a power “brick” to run. They draw all the power they need from the USB lead that connects them to the PC.

There are branded bundles available to buy off the shelf but building your own is easy, it’s not intimidating, it’ll save you money and you have the chance to recycle an old hard disk

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Build a Data Back Up Solution for the Price of a Pizza

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Yes, it’s true you really can build a viable data back up solution for your home or small business for less than the price of a decent pizza. All you need is an old hard drive (and most people will have an old abandoned PC at home or work that’s no longer fit for purpose) and a hard drive enclosure to put the disk in.

The hard disk salvaged from an old PC costs nothing. In fact taking the hard drive out of an old PC that’s no longer used is a good idea. Leaving the hard drive in the PC and just taking it the tip will only result in someone else removing the hard drive and potentially gaining access to any information stored on it.

Once you’ve got your salvaged hard disk (and a laptop or desktop hard disk will do) then you can buy a Hard Drive Enclosure to fit the disk in. These are very inexpensive items but they will come with all the cables and connectors you need and in the case of larger enclosures to house a 3.5”disk they will come with a standalone power supply unit.

The Hard Drive Enclosures, as the name suggests is just are designed to fit around the hard disk. They are in effect just “cases” that the hard disk fits into with a USB cable (or optionally a Firewire cable) to allow you to connect the enclosure to any computer.

The need to back up data stored on your PC is no trivial matter. Without really appreciating it we’re all accumulating vast amounts of valuable and sensitive and in many cases very personal data and a lot of this is being stored on our PC. If you just think about where you store your family photo’s, your music collection, your downloaded movies, your work files and the kids homework and essays – in most cases its on the family PC.

If the PC fails or gets stolen or the hard drive becomes corrupted as a result of a virus then all the stored data could be lost. The sensible thing to do is to build or buy a backup solution and follow a regular back up routine. It sounds easy but its one of those tasks that all too many people put off.

Using an enclosure and a salvaged hard disk, cost should not be a reason for not backing up your data. For example a salvaged 120GB hard disk can hold up to 30,000 songs, 150 hours of video, or 25,000 photos and many PC’s have hard drives much larger than this.

Don’t delay, back-up today!

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Jumper Settings When Using Hard Drive Enclosures

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Hard Drive Enclosures are getting increasingly popular, which, given their cost and ease of use is not surprising. Enclosures are a great way to re-use on old or salvaged hard disk drive from a computer and whilst these older hard drives are always as large as the current models (in terms of storage capacity) it’s a real shame not to use them

HDD Jumper Settings

Rear HDD Jumper Settings

By way of example a salvaged 120GB hard disk drive will hold up to 30,000 songs, 150 hours of video, or 25,000 photos and the old work file of course! So even at the rate that people are saving files today that’s still a huge amount of information that the hard drive is capable of storing.

Hard drive enclosures will of course support new hard disks as well as any salvaged hard disks you happen to have lying around at home or work. If you do use an enclosure with a new hard disk then you could install a 1.5TB hard disk into the enclosure and create a very substantial back-up solution

For most people though the real benefit of an enclosure is that it allows the recovery of data from a hard disk taken out of an old PC and it then allows you to use that same hard disk to create a new back-up solution. By doing this you get real cost benefits combined with a sense of satisfaction that you are re-cycling what would otherwise be a scrapped piece of hardware.

If you are using an IDE or ATA Hard Disks with an enclosure then it’s important that you set the jumper settings on the disk to “master” and not cable select or slave. If the jumper setting is incorrectly set then the hard disk will not be recognised when connected to the PC. The default setting when removing a hard disk from a PC is not always master and whilst it seems logical that any disk installed in an external enclosure is set to “salve” but it does need to be set to “master”.

Changing the jumper settings is easy to do and only takes a few seconds. Typically the hard disk manufacturers will have put a label on the top of the hard disk illustrating how you set the jumpers.

Jumpers are just metal pins that have small black plastic sleeves that slot on them.
SATA hard disks have no jumper setting to worry about

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Hard Drive Enclosures – Keeping it Simple

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Pretty much every computer has got a hard drive inside it. Think of the hard drive as the place onto which the operating system, programs and files are stored. It’s like one large storage and filing system for your computer with all of the stored data referenced and indexed for easy retrieval.

Hard Drives are getting bigger (in terms of storage capacity) because we’re all storing more information on them like music downloads, movies, family videos and pictures. They’re also bigger to cope with the “bloat” in Operating Systems and program files all of which are now significantly larger than they were just a few years ago.

Keeping this growing amount of data in one place where it’s prone to corruption, failure and theft is not a good idea. Add to this the threat of virus’s and Trojan security attack and then you realise that backing up your data on an external hard drive is not just a good idea its essential. Unfortunately too few people have considered this and its only when disaster strikes that the consequences of not having a back up are fully realised.

Backs up solitions don’t have to cost a fortune either. You can of course spend money on packaged hard drives from companies like Maxtor, Lacie and Freecom but a more cost effective solution is to buy an external had drive enclosure and use a hard drive salvaged from an old PC. Or if you don’t have an old PC just buy a new Hard Drive and an Enclosure and combine the two – both approaches will save you a significant amount of money.

An external hard drive enclosure is slightly larger than the hard drive itself, it will often come with a stand or carrying wallet and all the cables you need to connect it to your PC.

The hard drive and the enclosure sit outside of your computer and are connected to the computer through a high-speed interface cable, which enables the external hard drive to communicate with the computer by means of interfaces like USB and Fire Wire.

When it’s connected you can use the external drive just as you would the drive inside the computer but it has the added benefit of being removable and portable. So, you can store it securely or take it and your data with you.

Hard drives enclosures are available in two basic formats: SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) and IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics). IDE drives use a 40-pin connection. SATA is the standard for all new Hard Drives, it’s faster and transfers data at six times the speed of IDE external hard drive.

Whatever option you choose remember to back up on a regular basis.

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