By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-01-16 Print this article Print

You probably wouldnt want to try to use this drive as a primary drive, but as a secondary storage device, 30MB/sec is pretty darned good. With a 120GB capacity, plus the compression that exists in most backup applications, you can save a considerable amount of data to the drive. Another potential application is expandable storage for media files. Why store all those MP3 files on your desktop system? Put them on an external drive, and you can take your music catalog with you. If you opt to buy an off-the-shelf solution versus building your own, assuming you shop carefully, a 120GB drive plus the enclosure will set you back about $240 for a brand-name external drive manufactured by Maxtor or Western Digital. The Maxtor 5000DV (check prices), which is rated at 1 million hours MTTF, supports FireWire as well as USB 2.0. With the Western Digital, you have to choose between USB 2.0 and FireWire. Finally, both companies offer higher capacity drives -- up to 250GB in Maxtors case.
A host of white box shops will sell you drives in USB 2.0 enclosures -- and in some cases, dual-interface cases -- and only charge around $165-200 for a 120GB drive plus enclosure-- but these enclosures are often not as convenient as the $80 (street) Belkin chassis.
The fit and finish are often less polished, and assembling the case can be a real chore. Power supplies are often substantially noisier. On the other hand, you can buy them pre-assembled, so that may be a minor issue. If you do-it-yourself, in this particular case (no pun intended), it may be worthwhile to shop around and buy a solution instead. The best pricing for a 120GB 7200rpm drive with a 2MB buffer hovers around $135 . Of course, thats not as much fun. But then, building a secondary storage device may not be your idea of fun anyway.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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