Desktop Storage Solutions
A sourcelist of external desktop hard drives.
A far cry from the bygone days of backup drives with refrigerator-sized proportions, today’s external hard drives are sleek, lightweight, and offer easy and affordable storage solutions for consumers and businesses alike. With ever-increasing storage capabilities, these hard drives are quickly approaching the 1-TB mark and provide security and backup of valuable data.
For this sourcelist, we have zeroed in on just a couple of offerings from each of the leading manufacturers of external hard drives and highlighted some of their newest, biggest, fastest, or-what we have deemed to be-most intriguing desktop storage solutions.
As you peruse the following source list, note that:
* For this particular group, we have refrained from addressing hard drives with RAID capabilities as well as those with external SATA interfaces only.
* Unless otherwise noted, the hard drives offer the following standard transfer rates with the respective interfaces: FireWire 800, 800 Mbps; FireWire 400, 400 Mbps; and USB 2.0, 480 Mbps.
* Because of the recent entrance of Windows Vista into the marketplace as this list was compiled, we did not include compatibility information with that specific operating system; we suggest you visit the manufacturer’s website to verify that feature.
* We’ve provided prices for the products where they were available direct from the manufacturer.
Apricorn’s line of EZ Bus Desktop storage solutions offers models with USB, USB/FireWire Combo, and USB/eSATA connectivity. Each model offers a storage-capacity choice of 250, 400, 500, and 750 GB, and a drive speed of 7200 RPM. The SATA model, with duel e-SATA and USB 2.0 interfaces, supports a transfer rate of up to 300 MBps. Hot-swappable, the drives are bundled with backup, synchronization, and encryption software. All feature an aluminum enclosure and an ultra-cool fan for temperature regulation. The hard drives are compatible with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and Mac OS 9 and later. Price: $139 to $519.
Beyond Micro offers its Speedano 3 with a combination USB and 69FireWire interface. The external hard drive supports both USB 2.0 and 1.1 connections as well as a FireWire 400 connection and features dual FireWire ports for daisy-chaining. The Speedano 3 is also available with only USB, FireWire 400, or FireWire 800 connectivity.
All models in the Speedano line offer storage capacities of 80, 120, 200, 250, 300, 400, 500, and 750 GB. In addition to drive speeds of 7200 RPM, they feature a stackable design, an aluminum enclosure for protection and temperature control, and a shock-absorbent rubber strip on the top and bottom of the drive body. An LED light indicates power and data access. The plug-and-play drives are compatible with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and Mac OS 9 and OS X. Price: $95 to $600.
Buffalo Technology’s DriveStation Combo external hard drive has both USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 interfaces. The storage device features a 7200 RPM SATA drive and is pre-formatted for immediate use. Offering storage capacities of 250, 320, 500, and 750 GB, the Drive-Station Combo can be placed vertically or horizontally. Upon installation, drivers do not need to be installed due to Auto Setup technology (with the exception of Windows 98SE). The fanless drive automatically turns on and off with the user’s computer. The storage system comes with SecureLockWare and Memeo AutoBackup software for Windows PCs; it is compatible with Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP and Mac OS 9 and OS X.
Also available in the DriveStation line is DriveStation SATA, a 7200 RPM SATA drive with a USB interface that supports USB 2.0 and 1.1. The DriveStation SATA offers storage capacities of 160, 250, 320, 500, and 750 GB.
The Cavalry CAUE series offers storage capacities of 80, 120, 160, 200, 250, 300, 320, 400, 500, and 750 GB. The drive supports USB 2.0 and 1.1 connections and has a drive speed of 7200 RPM. The CAUE series is preformatted for plug-and-play functionality and features a built-in fan and a stackable design. An LED read-out signals power and data access. Compatible with Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS 9 and later.
CMS’ ABSplus is an external storage device and automatic backup system that’s available with USB or FireWire connectivity. ABSplus offers storage capacities of 80, 160, 200, 250, 400, 500, and 750 GB with a drive speed of 7200 RPM. The USB 2.0 model has a maximum transfer rate of 275 MBps, while the FireWire model offers a rate of 270 MBps. The drive is bundled with BounceBack Professional software-which makes a complete back-up of all files, applications, and operating systems-as well as copy2go 1.0 multimedia software for managing multimedia files. The ABSplus system is compatible with Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS X 10.1 and above. Price: $169 to $669.
EDGE Tech’s DiskGO 3.5-in. Portable Hard Drive with Quad Interface features eSATA, FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 (as well as USB 1.1) interfaces. The eSATA interface offers a transfer rate of 3 Gbps. Operating at a drive speed of 7200 RPM, the aluminum-encased drive supports current SATA II and is backward-compatible with SATA 1.0 and SATA 1.0a. A plug-and-play drive, it features a fanless design and an anti-shock chamber to ensure stability and protection. Available with storage capacities of 16, 250, 400, and 500 GB. Compatible with Windows 2000/2000 SP4/XP and Mac OS X. Price: $165 to $285.
Fantom Drives, which manufactures MicroNet technology storage products (see below), has released the Titanium II line of external hard drives with USB and USB/FireWire Combo connectivity. The Titanium II Combo FireWire/USB 2.0 is available in 120-, 160-, 200-, 250-, 300-, 320-, 400-, and 500-GB capacities and the Titanium II USB 2.0 drive is available in capacities of 80, 160, 200, 250, 320, 400, and 500 GB. Both models feature a sustained data-transfer rate of 28 MBps and a drive speed of 7200 RPM. The fanless drive can stand upright or be stacked horizontally. Compatible with Windows 98SE/2000/ME/XP and Mac OS 9.1 and OS X and higher. Price: $95 to $200.
G-Technology offers quad-interface compatibility with its G-Drive Q, which has eSATA, FireWire 800 (two ports), FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 connectivity. The data-transfer rates for each of the interfaces are as follows: eSATA, 85 MBps; FireWire 800, 61 MBps; FireWire 400, 38 MBps; and USB 2.0, 33 MBps. The SATA II drive features a fanless cooling system drive speeds of 7200 RPM with 8 or 16 MB of cache. The system is available in capacities of 250, 320, 500, and 750 GB.
FireWire 400 operation is compatible with Mac OS 9.2 or higher and Windows 2000/XP; FireWire 800, USB 2.0, and eSATA operation is compatible with Mac OS X 10.3.x or higher and Windows 2000/XP. Price: $219 to $659.
Iogear’s 3.5-in. Combo Ion Drive supports FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 connectivity (backward compatible with FireWire 400 and USB 1.1) and is available with storage capacities of 40, 60, 80, 120, 160, 200, and 250 GB. The fanless drive is hot-swappable and plug-and-play and features a drive speed of 7200 RPM.
FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 is supported by Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS X 10.2; FireWire 400 is supported by Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP and Mac OS 9 or greater; and USB 1.1 is supported by Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS 9 or greater. The company notes that the provided cable will only support FireWire 800.
The Professional Silver Series Triple Interface external storage device from Iomega supports FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 connectivity (backward compatible with USB 1.1). Featuring a 7200-RPM disk speed and an 8-MB buffer, the drive is available in 320-, 500-, and 750-GB capacities. The stackable plug-and-play drive is bundled with "touch-free" backup and full-system disaster-recovery software. Compatible with Windows Vista/98(USB 1.1 only)/2000/ME/XP and Mac OS X 10.1.5 or higher. Price: $190 to $425.
The d2 Quadra Hard Drive from LaCie provides quadruple interface compatibility with eSATA, FireWire 800 (two ports), FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 connectivity; the eSATA interface offers a transfer rate of 1.5 Gbps. With an available storage capacity of 500 GB, the hard drive features a drive speed of 7200 RPM and a 16-MB cache.
The plug-and-play d2 Quadra can stand upright, be stacked horizontally, or be rack mounted, and is able to be daisy-chained via FireWire. The system also offers an advanced cooling system, power-management features, and a shortcut button that enables the launch of applications with the push of a button. Bundled with backup and recovery software including EMC Retrospect Express, the hard drive is compatible with Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS 10.2.8 (10.3 for eSATA). Price: $290.
Also available from LaCie is the Brick Desktop Hard Drive. The Brick features a drive speed of 7200 RPM as well as an 8-MB cache. The storage solution is available in five capacities and three colors: 160 GB (white), 250 GB (red), 300 GB (blue), 400 GB (white), and 500 GB (red). The 160- and 250-GB drives have fanless cooling systems, while the others are equipped with "smart fans." The stackable, plug-and-play Brick is bundled with software including LaCie ‘1-Click’ Backup software. Compatible with Windows 98SE/2000/ME/XP and Mac OS 9.1 and OS X 10.2.1. Price: $110 to $210.
From Maxtor Solutions, acquired by Seagate Technology in May 2006, comes the Maxtor OneTouch Ease line of external hard drives, which includes the Maxtor OneTouch III FireWire 800/FireWire 400/USB 2.0. This specific model is available in 300-, 500-, and 750-GB capacities and features a drive speed of 7200 RPM. A plug-and-play drive, it features 16 MB of cache and is bundled with EMC Dantz Retrospect Express HD backup software. The Maxtor DriveLock security feature provides password protection of files. Requires Windows 2000/XP or Mac OS X 10.2.8 or higher.
FireWire 400/USB 2.0 and USB 2.0 only models are also available in the family of Maxtor OneTouch III hard drives.
The MicroNet Platinum XL FireWire 800 hard drive is equipped with two FireWire 800 ports and one FireWire 400 port and is available in capacities of 400, 500, 600, and 800 GB. Featuring a drive speed of 7200 RPM, the hard drive boasts bus transfer rates of 100 MBps with FireWire 800 connectivity and 50 MBps with FireWire 400 connectivity. Compatible with Windows ME/2000/XP and Mac OS X 10.1.3 or greater. Price: $220 to $380.
Newer Technology’s miniStack V2 offers dual interface connectivity with three USB 2.0 ports and two FireWire 400 ports. Featuring a drive speed of 7200 RPM, the drive is available in capacities of 80, 160, 250, 320, 400, 500, and 750 GB. The plug-and-play miniStack V2 is equipped with an interactive cooling system and a smart power switch that allows the hard drive to power up and down in tandem with the connected computer. Utility software, including backup solutions for PCs and Macs, is included. FireWire and USB 1.1 connectivity requires Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP or Mac OS 9.2; USB 2.0 connectivity requires Windows ME/XP/2000 or Mac OS X 10.2.
The Pushbutton Backup External Hard Drive line from Seagate offers storage solutions with both USB 2.0 and FireWire 400/USB 2.0 connectivity. Featuring an 8-MB cache, the USB 2.0 model is available is capacities of 250, 300, 400, and 500 GB. The FireWire/USB 2.0 option is available in capacities of 200, 300, 400, 500, and 750 GB and features a 16-MB cache. The hard drives, which can stand upright or be stacked horizontally, feature a drive speed of 7200 RPM. BounceBack Express software from CMS allows data to be backed-up with the push of a button. Compatible with Windows 98SE/ME/2000 Pro/XP and Mac OS 9.2.2 and OS X.
Simple Tech’s SimpleDrive External is available with USB 2.0 or USB 2.0/FireWire 400 connectivity. SimpleDrive offers storage capacities of 160, 250, 400, 500, and 750 GB with a drive speed of 7200 RPM. Able to stand upright or be stacked horizontally, the fanless device is plug-and-play, hot swappable, and features "one-click" backup with StorageSync software for Windows users. Compatible with Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP and Mac OS 9 or later.
The CrossFire Desktop Drive from SmartDisk is available with USB 2.0 or FireWire 400 connectivity. Both models are available in storage capacities of 160 and 250 GB with a drive speed of 7200 RPM. The hard drive comes with BounceBack Express backup software from CMS and is compatible with Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP and Mac OS X 10.1 or higher. Price: $150 to $180.
From Western Digital comes the My Book line of external hard drives which includes My Book Premium Edition ES and My Book Premium Edition. The former edition offers USB and eSATA connectivity and is available in 320- and 500-GB capacities, while the latter offers USB and FireWire 400 (2 ports) connectivity and is available capacities of 160, 250, 320, 400, and 500 GB. The eSATA interface offers a transfer rate of 3 Gbps.
Both plug-and-play models feature a 7200-RPM drive speed and a capacity gauge which shows the available amount of storage on the device (with USB connection only); both are able to stand upright or be stacked horizontally. The drives turn on and off with the connected computer and also have a "safe shutdown" feature to prevent the drive from powering down until all data has been written. The hard drives are bundled with EMC Retrospect Express backup software. My Book Premium Edition ES is compatible with Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS X 10.3 and later; My Book Premium Edition is compatible with Windows 98SE/ME/XP/2000 and Mac OS X 10.2.8 and later. Price for My Book Premium: $180 to $310.
Wiebe Tech’s ToughTech XE, part of its ToughTech line of external hard drives, offers quadruple interface compatibility with eSATA, FireWire 800 (two ports), FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 connectivity. The eSATA interface offers a transfer rate of 3 Gbps. The drive offers storage capacities of 250 GB, with an 8-MB cache, and 500 and 750 GB, with 16-MB caches. Offering a high-performance drive speed of 7200 RPM, the fanless drives are plug-and-play and allow for the daisy-chaining of additional FireWire devices. Compatible with Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS X. Price: $120 to $785.