[Homestead] $79 160 gig hard drive for your laptop

tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Thu Feb 17 20:04:46 EST 2005

$79 160 gig external hard drive---USB II or Firewire

Tech News

Greg Gazin

USB/FireWire enclosures - A great investment
Click here for all Greg Gazin's Columns

the 2316C combo external hard drive

When was the last time you did a backup? If you are like

some people, it’s probably been a while. Why? Because it’s

probably a pain! Right? And although your computer is

likely equipped with a CD burner, it would still take too

many blanks and too much time to do a backup. Sound


While there is no lack of options, a painless solution to

backup or even to use as auxiliary storage is an external

hard drive. Bare drives are getting to the point where

they are almost free. Last week I purchased a 3.5" 160GB

hard drive for a net price of $79. (That’s $159; less the

mail-in rebate I’ll get by summer time). That 2GB for a

loonie – way better than the $300 I spent a couple of

years back for a 30GB drive.

To connect externally to your computer, your drive needs a

housing or an enclosure. Veteran computer users will

remember the trials and tribulations they had to overcome

to connect in the past. Remember SCSI?

USB/FireWire Enclosures

External enclosures come in all different shapes and sizes

to support 2.5", the average laptop size drive, the more

common 3.5" drive as used in most computers and even 5.25"


Most enclosures use either a Universal Serial Bus (USB)

interface (1.1 or 2.0) or a FireWire (IEEE1384) high-speed

interface or a combination of the two. SCSI interfaces are

still used but are less common now and not part of this


If you use a PC, you’ll likely use the USB interface,

unless you have a FireWire card in your computer. (Nix the

USB 1.1 because it’s painfully slow.)

If you use a Macintosh, all models in the last few years

shipped standard with at least one FireWire port. To be

safe and ready for all occasions, get a combo unit – it

has both ports on the back. This is the one I use.

Easy to Use

The particular unit I chose doesn’t really have a brand

name on it – it’s just called the 2316C combo. It measures

206x132x50mm and weighs about 1/2 kg. It has one USB 2.0

port, one FireWire ports (Also called IEEE1394), a power

jack and a power switch.

For most enclosure kits, you don’t need a technician or a

PhD. Typically, two screws and the aluminum cover slides

off the main chassis. This unit allows me to slide the

bare drive directly into the appropriate spot where the

two connectors attach to the drive. It snaps in like Lego.

No wires or internal cables and no tiny pin connectors to

challenge your eyesight. Depending on your system

configuration, you may need to jumper the drive as a

master or slave – those directions are usually written

right on the bare drive itself.

Two small screws are supplied to optionally secure the

drive to the chassis. I opt not to use them so I can slide

out my drive and insert another when I choose to do so.

Very Compatible

This enclosure, as most are, is compatible with Windows

98SE/ME/2000/XP and (USB 2.0 Driver is supplied, if

necessary) and Macintosh OS 9.0, OS X and higher.

They are very easy to use. Hook up the drive with the

appropriate cable to your computer, power up. Follow the

supplied instructions. Install the driver if necessary.

What’s also nice is that the drives are true Plug N’ Play

and hot swappable. And unlike the old days of the

parallel, serial or SCSI drive, you can use your external

without having to power down the machine.

I mainly use a laptop and I wouldn’t even dream of

attempting to replace my internal hard disk. I have two

FireWire enclosures. The first one I use as an offsite

storage, the second one, I just replaced my 30GB with the

160GB I mentioned earlier and have it partitioned into 4

sets of just under 40GB. I’m now using 2 partitions for

rotating backups and the other 2 for just stuff.

The reality is that at one point in time we may need to

rely on a backup of our drives data. Furthermore, as

applications get bigger and bigger and we collect more

stuff – thousands of MP3 files and digital photos, we’re

going to need more storage. For under $100, external

enclosures allow portability and the flexibility of

swapping drives is truly the answer and a great investment


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