Backup Solution 1: External Hard Drives

Greetings everyone! Here is the first in my series of backup solutions. As a data recovery company, sees a lot of hard drive failures. As I said in my post: Speed Kills with Hard Drives Its Heat, I went over how heat affects hard disk drives.

This is even more apparent with external drives. In researching this post, I typed “external hard drive reviews” into Google to see what sites consider the best option. I was surprised to see that the majority of factors taken into consideration were all based on speed and performance. Sure no one wants a slow device if you are using it as a data source, but in this case we are talking about backing up files to prevent data loss. I didn’t see anything on Cnet or Pc Mag about stuff like mean time to failure. This is an important statistic. We all know by now that hard drives are destined to fail. Check out my post: Hard Drives: A Destiny of Failure to find out about hard drive failures. I guess that what I am trying to say is with backups, make sure you have a backup of your backup!

Looking at these reviews the stat that came up most was price per GB. The fact is most of these devices are pretty similar in pricing. The question is: “what are your backup needs”? Are you backing up a laptop or a desktop? Do you have a home network?

The first thing you want to make sure of is how does the external hard drive cool itself? Does it have an aggregate aluminum casing that dissipates heat? If you have ever seen an electronic dimmer switch that controls large banks of lighting, you will notice a grooved aluminum back to the switch. This is called a heat sink. Good external hard drives are built from the same metallic compound. Is that enough? Don’t think so. You also need at least one fan. Of all the external hard drives we have tested for data recovery potential, Seagate’s is by far the best. OK so it isn’t the performance monster that Western Digital’s 10,000 RPM external hard drive is, but it operates at a much cooler temperature. And Heat Kills.

What about laptop solutions? We have looked at a lot of portable drives and the clear winner was the LaCie All-Terrain USB drive. We were looking at the 80GB model with multiple connection ports. It wasn’t a speed demon by any stretch of the imagination, but it performed well enough. The cool thing is I was able to put LaCie’s 35″ maximum drop height to a test. I employed my 8 year old son Vincent to aid in this important scientific experiment! With my husband overseeing the test we measured out 35″ and found a shelf in a bookshelf that was 34.5″ from the floor. Hooked up to the laptop we dropped the hard disk several times while transferring around 20 GB’s of music file back and forth. I am happy to say that the LaCie device has been working great for the last 4 days.

To recap: when looking for backup solutions get an external hard drive that is self-cooling. If it is portable make sure it is tough. No one wants to need hard drive recovery, but somehow we all do at one time or another.

My next post will address some really cool (I mean that figuratively as well as literally) network storage devices that are great for backing up your home network.


  1. i was woundering if you would be able to advice me on a current problem with my external hard drive, i think it has a virses on it due it it crashing windows everytime i try to open it. i have been looking for some virses software that is designed to scan external devices for virses and remove them, but have been unsucessful at finding one. do you have any adivce? please thank you

  2. Becky,

    I have forwarded this comment to Jacqui, our software support person. We have data recovery software for external hard drives, but it won’t clean your data, just recover it.

    Here is a link to our FREE Fat 32 Data Recovery Software

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