Have I mentioned lately how nice it is to have USB 2.0 Hi-Speed? I just had to reboot my machine after removing the pesky Windows update KB908531 (which garnered itself the headline “On the other hand, the crashed system is very secure”), and it’s wonderful to watch Replicator flicker through copying the 520+ megs of my Outlook PST file to my XHD so quickly.
Speaking of external hard drives, the Ur-Guru just bought one to bring when he comes to visit in June. Like me, he got a new laptop recently, and since he’s going to be here for 6 weeks and working some of that time, he’ll need to make backups while he’s here.
Though Rotterdam has a proliferation of custom-order computer shops (at least relative to El Cerrito), the range of choices in 2.5” hard drives was fairly small, so he ended up with a WD-80 (which, of course, made me think of the can of WD-40 I have in the trunk of my car, and is yet more apt because Western Digital does indeed make a 40 GB model of its portable drive.) So far he’s quite pleased with it: “It’s a 5400 rpm model instead of LaCie’s 4200 rpm and I think it is noticable. However, what strikes me as quite a feature… it hardly gets hot. In fact, it’s been spinning for 2 hours doing backups and copies now and it’s only just lukewarm at best. Very nice.”
Back when I got my own 80 GB external hard drive (a Toshiba), 80 GB was the maximum capacity for a drive of that size. Things are definitely changing, but the price difference between an 80 GB drive and a 100 GB drive may have something to do with why there are two 80 GB drives inside my new laptop rather than one larger-capacity drive.
As for the issue of RPMs: laptop drives are normally either 4200 or 5400 RPMs, whereas desktop drives are usually 7200 RPMs. The faster a drive spins, the hotter it gets, and you can’t put extensive cooling systems into a laptop. (The cooling fans the Ur-Guru needs for his systems mean that his office sounds approximately like an airport runway.)
Seagate is shipping its newest 15,000 RPM Cheetah perpendicular drive, which not only spins twice as fast as a standard drive, but can hold more data thanks to perpendicular technology (which is also what’s letting laptop drives grow in capacity). So you can get a very fast 300 GB hard drive—if you’re willing to pay for it and can actually keep it cool enough. The Ur-Guru has a stack of earlier model Cheetahs in a SCSI array, but most home users won’t need or want them.
Nor will most of us need the new 64 GB USB flash drive from Kanguru Solutions. That’s just as well, given its $2800 price tag. Think of all the data you could leave in your pocket and put through the laundry in that! Personally, I’ve found my 512 MB USB drive more than sufficient so far. Give it a few years, though, and the usual will happen: file size will bloat, prices will drop, and soon we’ll need 64 GB for a single Microsoft Word file.
Whether or not you own any flash drive at all, however, you do need to back up your computer. Fortunately, you don’t need to buy the very latest technology in order to do that. There are tons of options and no excuses. Back up. Now.