How to Buy a Backup Hard Drive

When looking for a backup hard drive, one naturally looks for an external hard drive.  Such hard drives can be easily attached to your desktop or notebook PC by a simple USB or other interface.  Hard drives have shrunk in size recently and many are fully portable allowing you to take them with you in your pocket, your briefcase, or your laptop computer back.  External hard drives are divided into two separate categories one, the portable, self powered hard drive; and to the external AC powered hard drives.

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Portable versus Traditional Hard Drives

Portable hard drives are small enough to fit in your pocket and powered by its own USB connection (also known as USB-powered) so you don’t need to carry around a bulky, heavy AC adapter.  However, since these hard drives are smaller and require less power, they also are limited in capacity.  These portable hard drives can be found as small as 100 GB and as large as 320 GB in size.  The larger non-portable external hard drives come in sizes as big as several terabytes in size.  The first thing to think about once looking for a new hard drive, is to consider whether or not you want a portable hard drive.  If you plan on doing a lot of traveling, and would like to bring it a large capacity hard drive with you when you are on the road, you might find a USB powered portable hard drive the best device for you.  Others, simply like their small size simple connectivity, and lack of an AC adapter and will lean towards these types of hard drives as well.  If you really need a lot of room to store many large sized files such as expansive music and movie collections, you may opt for the larger sized external hard drives that are not portable.

Western Digital Hard Drives

Western digital is a hard drive manufacturing company with an excellent reputation for their external and internal hard drives.  The Western Digital passport line of hard drives is the portable USB powered hard drive that consistently ranks in high customer satisfaction ratings.  We have been using our Western Digital 120 GB Passport portable hard drive for several years now and have found it extremely reliable and not much bigger than a pack of playing cards – and powered by its own USB-port.  Western Digital also offers the “My Book” series of high-capacity external hard drives that have achieved similar reliability and customer satisfaction ratings.  These drives come in several categories including the home version, the essential version, the office version, the world version, and more.  For the most robust data protection, consider the “My Book Mirror Edition” hard drives by Western Digital which offer several advanced configurations including RAID redundant backup configuration.

The RAID 0 configuration offers data striping redundancy which spreads out your data across two separate volumes of hard drives.  For the most redundant protection, we recommend the RAID 1 configuration which offers data mirroring across two identical hard drives.  The Mirror Edition drives come with two identically sized hard drives — when you backup your data, your data is written to one of the two hard drives, then the data is replicated to the second hard drive (instantly).  This gives you double data protection all in one box and all done instantly with the included backup software.  The best part about this is even if one of your backup drives experiences complete failure, the second drive allows you full recovery.  Prices for external hard drives are very competitive and by searching online you can often find a very reasonable price as these hard drives are consistently on sale from local or Internet electronics vendors.

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Backup Solutions

Once you have selected the hard drive and purchased it, it is now time to implement a viable backup solution.  The first step in creating a backup plan, is identifying which are the most important files on your computer.  These files are the ones that you absolutely cannot do without an are fearful of losing.  Such files may be important financial and legal documents, work or school related documents, or even family digital photos that are on your hard drive.  Additionally, many users store e-mail files and folders or backups on their computer hard drive and would like to back them up periodically as well.  Lastly, one might consider backing up a music collection video collection home videos or other multimedia files as well, especially if the only copy resides on your PC hard drive.  Check out our article on how to create a backup solution .

Backup Software Memeo’s AutoBackup software is a bare-bones basic backup utility that comes pre-packaged and ships with many hard drives, (a trial version of Memeo is shipped with Western Digital drives).  After plugging in your new backup hard drive for the first time, the Windows AutoRun dialog box will pop up asking you if you’d like to install Memeo.  Upon installation, all you have to do is select which files you want to back up (the source location) and where the backups are to be stored (the target location).  Configuration is very simple – and that is the draw to Memeo – simple, straight-forward backups.  Memeo gives you the ability to backup data in sets, subsets, from several locations (including files stored on the internet) and manage them all from one program.

Acronis True Image Home is a top-tier backup and recovery solution.  Acronis delivers the highest level of security and reliability by instead of simply backing up select data files on your PC – Acronis creates an image-based backup “snapshot” of your entire PC’s hard drive.  This means a complete backup of all of your data files, programs, downloads, and even your entire operating system.  Acronis also allows you to create a bootable startup disk so that you can resurrect your entire hard drive by restoring the “image” in its entirety – a complete 100% hard drive restore solution!

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