External Storage: Little Big Drives

We review 15 standalone devices for small-business and personal use. One of them has your name on it. PC Magazine

Backup has gotten personal: Small drives that match your lifestyle have changed the face of storage and backup. Add-in drives are out of the question now that notebooks are steadily replacing desktops. Fast interfaces such as USB 2.0 and FireWire have made plug-and-play external drives practical, and skyrocketing capacity and plummeting costs have made them affordable.

The files youre storing have changed, too. Youre more likely to need room for your digital photos, gigabytes of music, Web site backup, or video-editing projects. IDE drives have become orders of magnitude more reliable in recent years, so the emphasis in backup has moved from generational data sets and disaster recovery to a clean working copy of your hard drive.

Well-organized IT departments and scrupulous network administrators still practice the traditional rituals of backup—multigenerational data sets, monthly snapshots, compressed tape formats, off-site storage, and strict separation of data and programs. These remain the best ways to recover from any disaster, including virus attacks.

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