users looking for a great storage solution should definitely consider
external hard disks. Housed in an external enclosure, you can quickly
connect the drive to another computer without any fuss or
bother. In many cases it's simply a case of plug and away you go.
Furthermore, they have large capacities up to 2TB (2000MB).
There are three main types of interface for connecting an
external hard disk to a PC. USB is the most common interface, with USB
2.0 drives offering
real transfer rates of approximately 20 to 30 MB per second. Prices are
also very competitive, with a 1TB USB 2.0 drive typically
costing about £60.
While USB 2.0 has a faster transfer rate than Firewire 400, in
Firewire tends to be quicker, in part because this type of interface
uses fewer CPU cycles when transactions are occuring. Furthermore,
Firewire 800 is also available, offering faster transfers.
If you are backing up large amounts of data it is worth
considering eSATA hard disks. They enable a backup to be made up to 4
times quicker than USB
2.0. However, eSATA requires its own power connector, and
many desktop motherboards don't have an eSATA connector, requiring a
PCI card to be installed in the PC.
The newest interface on the block is USB 3.0. This
technology has only just been introduced, and will need a USB3
PCI expresss adaptor added to the PC. Linux was the first operating
system to include USB 3.0 support (being introduced with the 2.6.31
kernel back in June 2009). The major benefit of USB
3.0 is that data transfers at approximately 120 MB per second, which is
quicker than Firewire and eSATA external disks. If you have a lot of
data to backup on a regular basis, and top performance is essential
then USB 3.0 represents the way forward. But be prepared to pay a
for the latest technology, as the drives are significantly more
expensive than USB 2.0 drives.
We particular like Buffalo Drivestation and Samsung Story
Station external disks. The former comes supplied with Memeo AutoBackup
latter with Samsung Auto Backup. However, both software applications
are not released for Linux. Fortunately, Linux is blessed with
great free backup tools. We have covered the backup scene in our
of the Best Free Linux Backup Tools feature. For painless
imaging of a hard disk, we are particularly fond
a console based partition or disk clone software similar to Symantec
Ghost Corporate. Flyback
(Applie's Time Machine for Linux) takes a different approach. With
this software, if the machine crashes, the user can simply move the
external drive to a new machine and copy the latest
backup using any file browser.
An external hard disk is a great all round choice for
home backup. However, it does not offer protection in the event of a
fire, flood or theft.
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Last Updated Sunday, December 13 2009 @ 09:37 AM EST