Like a lot of technology, portable storage is remarkably complicated once you get into it. You need some more space so you go to get an external drive, but there are hundreds of different types. What’s the difference? What do I need?
If you are short of time, here’s the summary:
- To carry a small number of files – Sandisk Micro
- To carry more data, including large files, but lightweight – Seagate FreeAgent.
No need to carry a laptop around. Just carry the data and plug it into an available PC. Use SyncToy to keep data up to date in several places.
The SanDisk micro lets you carry around a surprising amount of data. It is tiny and inexpensive. There is not good reason not to use one. You can encrypt the data in cases you lose it.
- It is limited in size, currently 4-8 GB
- It is slow to access, even with super extreme flash
If you need more, a top tip is the Seagate FreeAgent range of portable drives.
- They are formatted as NTFS instead of FAT. This means they can use large files, for example a backup of your system.
- They are much faster drives. They operate at 7200 RPM, the same speed as your internal drive. Other drives, to save money, operate at 4500 RPM but you would need to know what you are looking for to find this.
- They appear in your Explorer window as a regular drive, not as a removable drive. Some backup utilities will not work with removable storage.
- They are small and light, less than 200g.
- They are inexpensive. You can buy several of them and use them to take backups of your data off site.
- You can use the free utility from Microsoft, SyncToy, to match up data on the external and internal drives.
- You can use the Altiris Recovery Solution to make a regular snapshot of your entire computer so you can recover it if anything goes wrong.
They are not really suitable for archiving. If you want to make a long term copy of your data and put it somewhere safe, you need a long term storage medium like Iomega Rev drives. Same if you have a large amount of photos and video and you want to make a copy just in case.
They are also not the same as extra external storage for your PC. You can get much larger drives, but they are heavier and need a separate power supply.
But they certainly save lugging a laptop around, if you are going from office to office and just need to carry some files with you.