Buyer's Guide 2007: External Storage And Backup
Hard drives, CDs and DVDs provide reliable backup for your thousands of digital images
The best and most bulletproof storage system for a personal computer consists of two (or more) high-capacity hard drives assembled in a RAID 1 configuration. RAID stands for "Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives." A RAID Level 1 configuration stores identical sets of data on two drives by writing to them simultaneously. The data is "mirrored," and if one drive crashes, all of the data is still available on the other. It all happens transparently, without human interaction, and you never have to worry about remembering to make a backup copy.
Maxtor, which is now part of Seagate, offers the Ultra16 Hard Drive Kits in 250 and 300 GB capacities. They feature Serial ATA connectivity for improved data transfer speed plus thinner interface cables that are conducive to improved airflow. Estimated street price of an internal 300 GB Maxtor SATA Ultra Series Kit is $150. You'll need a hard drive controller capable of RAID configuration.
The Adaptec Serial ATA II RAID 1420SA handles up to four internal Serial ATA 3 Gbits/sec. ports and supports RAID 0, 1, and 10 configurations for data protection and increased performance. It features HostRAID, Adaptec's integrated RAID technology that maximizes system performance and uptime. Suggested retail price is $125.
Network Hard Drives
Network hard drives are becoming increasingly popular and provide efficient, automatic backup systems. They're available from several top brands, including Buffalo and Western Digital. The Seagate Mirra M-400 ($499 estimated street price) is one of the most advanced systems. It provides a continuous backup solution for multiple networked PCs and delivers an easy way to share data with others—including those who aren't on your network.
Mirra creates a backup copy of your files every time you save—you don't have to remember anything once it's set up. It also includes a free Mirra Web Account that gives you access to your personal server via a standard web browser no matter where you are—all you need is access to the Internet. You can invite others to log on to www.mirra.com where they can access files you've flagged as "Shared." It's also a good solution for professional photographers who need to share images and data with clients.