Add extra capacity as you need it for backups of your expanding photo library
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
LaCie's 2big Quadra is a 2-bay RAID-ready backup solution in capacities up to 6 TB (3 TB if you use it as a mirrored RAID). It offers four ways to connect: eSATA, FireWire 400 and 800, and USB 2.0. It includes backup software for Windows, and is Time Machine-compatible for Mac users. The 2big Quadra also can be configured in a Mixed Partition mode, which allows you to use part of the system's capacity for mirrored RAID backups while using the remaining space for files you don't need to back up. List Price: $299 (2 TB); $419 (4 TB); $549 (6 TB).
The GoFlex Desk from Seagate is uniquely upgradeable: the connection port is located in a removable, swappable base. So if your current computer has only USB 2.0, but your next has FireWire, you can simply swap out the base and take advantage of faster transfer rates. Available in capacities up to 4 TB, GoFlex Desk is compatible with Windows and Mac, and includes backup software. An illuminated capacity gauge makes it easy to monitor how much free space remains. List Price: $109 (1 TB); $129 (2 TB); $199 (3 TB); $249 (4 TB).
My Book Live from Western Digital is another Internet-connected option if you'd like to access your files remotely. Just connect My Book Live to your wireless router via Ethernet and you can back up all the computers in your home. Your photos and other media are available wherever you're online, including Android and Apple iOS devices. It also can stream media to DLNA devices like Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or compatible HDTVs. My Book Live works with Apple Time Machine, and also comes with automatic backup software for Windows users. List Price: $149 (1 TB); $199 (2 TB); $249 (3 TB).
|When selecting a drive, be sure your computer has the necessary connections for the drive you choose. Here are the basics about each of the common connection types.
USB 2.0 is by far the most common connection for external drives. It's near-ubiquity on computers makes it your safest bet, but it's the slowest of the wired connections, with transfer speeds of up to 60 MB/s.
USB 3.0 is the new USB standard that delivers 10 times the transfer speeds of USB 2.0, topping out at about 600 MB/s. USB 3.0 is still relatively new, though, so chances are, your computer doesn't have this port. However, USB 3.0 devices are backward-compatible with USB 2.0 ports, so your 3.0 drive will work with your current computer and be ready for the future.
FireWire 400/800 is most commonly found on Apple computers, but occasionally finds its way onto higher-end Windows machines. FireWire 400 offers data transfer rates of about 49 MB/s, while the faster FireWire 800 doubles that to approximately 100 MB/s.
Ethernet is commonly used for networking, but is also an option for some external drives. The latest Ethernet controllers are capable of data rates of 1 GB/s, though your drive may not be able to take full advantage of that speed.
Wi-Fi cuts the cord and lets you put your external drive any place in range of your network, freeing up desk space. However, it's the slowest connection type here, with speeds maxing out at about 37 MB/s.
eSATA is a less common port, typically an optional upgrade or something you install yourself—but you may want to consider it, with transfer speeds of up to 300 MB/s.
Thunderbolt is the newest data connection, developed by Intel and making its debut in the latest generation of Apple computers. (It eventually will be available on Windows machines as well.) It's so new that only very few devices have been released with it, mostly for the professional video storage market, but this likely will change, since the connection has some technical advantages, including data transfer rates of up to 1.25 GB/s—about twice the speed of USB 3.0. Many drive manufacturers have pledged to support the standard, and Seagate has announced an optional base for its GoFlex Desk drives that will upgrade them to Thunderbolt.
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