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EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE A Description Antonio Brancatella

October 20, 2012

Audience and Scope

The purpose of this technical description is to inform and familiarize computer users on what an external hard drive is, what are all the components and parts, and what are some of the associated advantages of an external hard drive. This technical description will also outline safety tips and a list of external hard drives available for purchase. The audience of this technical description would be personal computer owners. An external hard drive can be connected to all personal computers running on all operating systems, be it Mac, Windows or all other operating systems. Personal computers have an internal hard drive which eventually will get full especially if the computer user edits high-quality video file or/and stores a music library. There is no set storage size for an external hard drive but their capacity is getting bigger all the while remaining compact.

An external hard drive is a hard drive in a casing that requires its own power supply outlet and connects to a personal computer with a USB cable . The external hard drive can also connect to a wireless router and in turn, be connected to all computers on a home network. This technical description will only describe and illustrate the external hard drive connected with a USB cable directly to a personal computer.

An external hard drive is a portable data storage device that attaches effortlessly to all personal computers. The external hard drive can be attached and shared simultaneously to more than one computer through a home network setup. The external hard drive sits in a casing sometimes referred to as a cage. The casing protects the hard drive and also holds the IDE Interface connector. The IDE Interface connects the hard drive to the USB wire which in turn, connects to the personal computer. The casing also holds the power connector which is connected to the Power Adapter Cable. All casings have a "turned-on" light which lets the user know that the external hard drive is on and connected.

Hard Drive
A Hard Drive's storage size varies and typically has 1 to 2 Terabytes of data. 1 Terabyte can hold up to 2 million pictures, several hours of music, and over 20 movies or videos.

USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable

Connector Face Cable End Cable End Connector Face (to Computer) (to Computer) (to Hard Drive) (to Hard Drive)

Power Adapter Cable

Hard Drive Casing or Cage

Power Connector

IDE Interface Connector

Turned-On Indicator Light


Turned-On Light Indicator

Figure 1 below shows how the external hard drive looks like once connected to the personal computer. Note the external hard drive can easily be connected to a Lap Top computer or a wireless router.

Figure 1:

External Hard Drive Advantages

An external hard drive allows you to increase space without taking the personal computer apart. Users who do not require extra storage may still find external hard drives useful for backing up their main hard drive. External hard drives are a great backup solution because they can store an exact copy of another hard drive and can be stored in a safe location. The external hard drive can be connected to a wireless router and be used by all computers on the network. An external hard drive is portable and can be easily stored in a safety deposit box at home or in a bank vault. The data transfer speeds are getting faster allowing long process work such as Photoshop or Illustrator projects to be completed in a shorter amount of time. External Hard Drives manufacturers are competing with each other to capture the external hard drive market driving down the cost of price per gigabyte.

External Hard Drive Disadvantages

External hard drives can be carried from place to place; as a result they get dropped, knocked, and subjecting the hard drive to abuse which might render it inoperable. Trailing data transfer on an external hard drives can be a problem but with USB 3.0 now available, the transfer speeds are getting faster. The cables are a disadvantage; an external hard drive cannot function without the USB cable and power adapter so need to secured as well as the hard drive. The cables can get in the way at times and might drag the external hard drive to the floor if not secured properly. An external drives seldom have cooling fans and can at times overheat. The external hard drive can also be lost not being inside the personal computer. An external hard 's design is not always pleasant to look at, especially with the attached wires, but companies such as Lacie are designing them in different shapes and colors going away from the black casing.

Safety Tips

Protect your external hard drive when moving from place to place. The data can be very valuable and sometimes not replaceable. Secure the external hard drive when connecting it to a personal computer. You can damage the external hard drive if the cables unexpectedly come unplugged. Backup the data on the external, or use it as the backup. Backup . When purchasing an external hard drive bigger is always better. Lock your external hard drive with a safety lock cable. It is worth the expense.

Examples of External Hard Drives

WD My Book Essentials 1TB External Hard Drive (WDBACW0010HBK-NESN)

Seagate Expansion 3TB External Desktop Hard Drive (STBV3000100) - Black

WD My Book Essentials 3TB External Hard Drive (WDBACW0030HBK-NESN)

Seagate Goflex 1.5TB Desktop External USB 2.0 Hard Drive (STAC1500100)

Seagate Goflex 3TB Desktop External USB 3.0 Hard Drive (STAC3000102)

Key Words
Megabyte: A Megabyte is approximately 1,000 Kilobytes. Gigabyte: A Gigabyte is approximately 1,000 Megabytes. Terabyte: A Terabyte is approximately one trillion bytes, or 1,000 Gigabytes.
1 Bit = Binary Digit 8 Bits = 1 Byte 1000 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte 1000 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte 1000 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte 1000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte 1000 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte 1000 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte 1000 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte 1000 Zettabytes = 1 Yottabyte 1000 Yottabytes = 1 Brontobyte 1000 Brontobytes = 1 Geopbyte

NTFS MSFAT Mac IDE Interface USB 3.0 Maximum Data Transfer Data Buffer

- Pictures and external hard drive examples from www.lacie.com www.futureshop.ca www.bing.com