Filled To Capacity

External storage devices are evolving to meet increasing data demands

Are you looking for a high-capacity storage device big enough to store and preserve tons of vital computer data? You’re not alone. Companies and individual PC users are all storing and using larger amounts of data than ever before. And the makers of disk storage devices are responding by offering a myriad of new products that can store everything from digital video of the latest family reunion to years of accounting and payroll records.

In addition to thick data files, new gadgets like digital cameras can leave high-resolution image files that take up storage space on computers, even those with 120GB hard drives. With computers always susceptible to a virus or some other unforeseen occurrence that may crash the unit and wipe out files, users are looking at viable alternatives to storing sensitive documents.

Small plug-and-play USB storage devices are starting to flood the personal computer market. Leading PC makers no longer sell units with 1.44 MB floppy disk drives. Instead, computer owners must rely on CD-ROM drives and USB (Universal Serial Bus) port flash drives.

If you are looking for a portable storage solution that will plug into just about any computer, try Seagate’s 5GB Pocket Hard Drive. The palm-size device resembles a hockey puck and has an external hard drive and a USB 2.0 interface that enables fast data transfer (up to 480 Mbps). At a 5GB capacity, it stores up to 74 hours of digital music, 1,250 digital photos, 4.5 hours of digital video, or thousands of business files.

“This product does have a role to play for small business owners,” says Dave Reinsel, director of storage research at the Framingham, Massachusetts-based information technology research group IDC. “The real application would be backing up important files on individual PCs.” Reinsel says you won’t find competitive flash offerings (thumb drives) that hold 5GB, and because of that there is a niche market for this device.

Other attractive features of the pocket drive are its password protection for data storage, a free one-year warranty, and a Seagate offer of free technical advice even after the warranty expires. Peter Huemer, president of User-Friendly Computing based in Santa Cruz, California, relies heavily on the Pocket Hard Drive to back-up e-mail files, financial spreadsheets and other critical documents before performing major repairs for his small to medium-size business customers.

“We outfit our field technicians with the pocket hard drive and surprisingly we have not had data corruption problems like we used to have with those flash drives,” Huemer says. “Gone are the days when we have to carry a big wallet of floppy disks or CD ROMS, because we can really store everything on the pocket drive. It’s a great product, and with a capacity of 5GB it’s made our jobs much easier.”

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