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.