External hard drives are quite a popular topic at the moment and this photo shows several options. The 250GB is a great drive which generally sits plugged into the machine that runs our network. It’s partitioned into three equal sized NTFS partitions and stores most of the “family stuff” – music, photos and other stuff that we want to have easily accessible. This drive is a fast 7200RPM disk and doesn’t move around that much unless I want to do some fast file transfers (we are wireless and big files slow things down a bit). The big drives need to run on AC power so I don’t think they are really designed to be too portable
The 120GB Western Digital is designed to be portable. It has no need for AC power but will run from the USB port of a laptop or desktop computer. This little beauty spends most of it’s time in a laptop bag being ferried between home and school. It’s a great little drive and good looking too! It’s been named The Blue Eyed Boy because of the glowing blue light that indicates when it’s plugged in.
The orange and black thing is a combination firewire / USB drive which is currently holding an old 80GB drive. I’ve partitioned the disk into two partitions and formatted them under FAT32. I did this so that I can transfer (not necessarily store) files between Macs and PCs. This isn’t a backup drive as I would consider that 80GB drives -especially desktop drives – are getting a bit old in the tooth and have a reasonably high chance of failing within the next little while.
When I set up my own computers I don’t use the standard folder structures. My documents, downloads, music, photos and videos folders all live inside top level folders on a separate partition to the operating system. This makes reinstalling a lot easier and allows me to quickly dump the masses of stuff that I collect into backups. It also means that if my backups get too big (and I still like to keep my documents folder well under DVD size) I know that it’s time to archive and cull.
I back up my computer in various ways. I keep a reasonably upto date copy of my documents etc on one of the partitions of the big 250GB drive. I also synchronise with a 4GB SD card most days and back up to DVD every couple of weeks or so. The plan is to keep a reasonably up to date copy of things off site but I must confess that I haven’t quite got round to that … yet.
Now that (maybe that should read while) I am using Gmail to host my domain applications, my email is automatically kept on GMail’s servers. Added to that I am attempting to have a more streamlined Outlook profile and keeping less of the rubbish that comes my way. My calendar and contacts are all online and a ‘thin version’ is on my mobile phone. I keep all of my passwords and important numbers inside a KeePass database which I have avaialble in a portable format on a USB drive.