Data to go: Options for hauling lots of files
By Jay Dougherty Sep 15, 2007, 5:30 GMT
Washington - These days, almost everything's digital - our photos, music collections, videos, documents, financial records, and more.
Most of us can get all of this data on a few hard drives. And so long as we're using the computer that houses those drives, everything's fine.
But what happens when we need or want to take large amounts of data with us? That's when portable storage becomes critical.
Today, there are several options available to help you get a lot of files from one computer to another, and the method you choose should depend upon approximately how much data you need to cart around.
--- Hauling piles of files
Let's say you have a terabyte or more of data that you need to be able to carry around with you. People with that much data that must move from location to location won't be able to rely upon a notebook computer, or even a notebook computer coupled with a typical external hard drive, which probably tops out at 750 gigabytes (GB). More serious solutions are required, and luckily there are a few.
One option is to consider installing a mobile rack into each desktop computer from which the data must be accessible. Mobile racks are inexpensive - generally from 12 to 30 dollars each - and consist of two parts: a frame and a caddy.
The frame is installed into an open 5-1/4-inch drive bay in your desktop computer - the same kind of bay that holds your CD-ROM or DVD player - and the caddy holds your hard drive. Once the assembly is installed, you can remove the caddy containing your hard drive and carry it with you to the next computer. You'll find a wide range of racks listed at most online computer retailers, including NewEgg (http://www.newegg.com).
Using this method, each computer at which you wish to use the data must be outfitted with a mobile rack tray from the same manufacturer, since the racks from different manufacturers aren't interchangeable. Once the racks are installed in the computers and the hard drives in the trays, to move data, you simply pull out the tray containing the hard drive and carry it with you to the next rack-equipped PC. Most trays have handles, which make the hard drives easy to carry around.
The racks are hooked up to the inside of your computer using either a parallel or a serial ATA interface cable, the same kind used by your hard drives when they're connected directly to your computer's motherboard. Instructions for installed the rack and tray are provided with each unit, or you can have your local computer store outfit your PC if necessary.
The advantages of racks over other solutions are significant. You can use today's largest internal IDE hard drives - which currently hold as much as 1 terabyte each. That's enough storage space for you to get most of your really important files - everything from photos to music files - on one disk and carry that around with you from computer to computer.
You can also use racks as a means of booting different operating systems. If you use a rack-mounted drive as your main drive, you can swap different drives in that contain different operating systems, creating an easy method for you to test out new operating systems and applications. You can also use a rack-mounted drive as a means of easily carrying a backup offsite. Look at units such as the Kingwin KF-813 or the Koutech IO-MRA.
Another solution is to use an external hard drive enclosure that can accommodate more than one desktop-type hard drive. The AMS Venus T4U is a prime example. This device, which costs about 115 dollars, is about the size of a shoe box and has connectors and power supply to support four internal IDE hard drives. It connects to any computer using a standard USB port.
The beauty of this device is that the hard drives can be 'combined' by the enclosure's electronics so that they appear to the operating system as one huge volume. Put four 500-gigabyte IDE hard drives in the enclosure, for instance, and you'll end up with what looks like a single 2-terabyte drive on which to store and transport gobs of data.
-- Transporting only essential files
For moving smaller files from computer to computer, one of the readily available external hard drive enclosures will be the best bet. With these, you can take a standard desktop or notebook hard drive, install it into the enclosure, and plug the enclosure into your desktop or notebook computer. Once your operating system recognises the drive, you'll have all of the additional space afforded to you by the new volume.
You can find ready-made external hard drives from drive manufacturers such as Maxtor, or you can purchase the drive and enclosure separately from any reputable online computer dealer. Purchasing the drive and enclosure separately will save you some money - plus installation is simple, requiring only a standard screwdriver, if that much.
Just remember that if you purchase the drive and enclosure yourself, you'll need to make sure you're purchasing an enclosure that will fit your hard drive. Currently, there are only two sizes available: 2.5 inch, for notebook-sized hard drives, and 3.5-inch, for desktop drives. Desktop drives come in higher capacities.
Physically moving lots of data may not be fun, but with today's options, it no longer has to be painful. If you need to lug around your 800 gigs of digital photos, 600 gigs of music files, 1 terabyte of home videos, and countless megs of personal files, one of the solutions here will get the job done.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur