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4 reason to own an external hard drive

CHERYL TEVIS 12/15/2010 @ 10:45am Cheryl has been an editor at Successful Farming since 1979.

It’s a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when your computer is unresponsive – no matter what you do. It typically occurs before a 4-H record book deadline or tax appointment.

If it has ever happened, you probably always back up your files without fail.

Or maybe not.

“People don’t back up,” says Peg Brune, AgTrax Consulting. “The technology is there, but many people don’t use it.”

Brune, who farms near Dodge, Nebraska, relies on data storage for her farm records and her consulting business.

“Old data can be very useful for analysis and, of course, you need it to comply with legal requirements,” she says.

An external hard drive is the best option. When multiple family members share a computer, files can be discarded or lost. An external hard drive is a device connected by means of a high-speed interface cable, such as a USB or FireWire.

“If you’ve ever used a memory stick, an external hard drive works in the same way, except it stores more data and it’s not as prone to freezing up,” Brune says. “There’s no software installation. When you’re not using it, unplug it to protect against possible lightning strikes and computer viruses.”

Here are four reasons you should invest in an external hard drive for your computer.

1. It’s Portable.

“An external hard drive is portable,” Brune says. “Once you copy files on your hard drive, you can take it anywhere and plug it into another computer.

“I put software on my hard drive and take it to my clients’ homes, plug it into their computers, and pull it up. You can take it to a tax appointment.”

An external hard drive makes it easy to transfer data between computers that aren’t networked. “You also can buy a Wi-Fi external hard drive,” Brune says. “If you use laptops, it’s like being networked.”

2. It Handles Huge Files.

Multimedia storage is increasingly taking up huge amounts of space on computer hard drives. If you only store documents, e-mails, and other small files, a 20GB capacity may be adequate. If you plan to store movies, video, or large music files, buy at least 100GB.

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