Written by: Michael Biancone, Purchasing
Have you ever had to experience a computer crash? I hope not, but if you have I am sure some wise guy probably quipped: “No problem, you have a back up right?” At this point you either breathe a sigh of relief or let out a maniacal scream.

Many of us have been advised to get an external hard drive for data back-up. While being a great idea, for many it has often been difficult to select the appropriate equipment to purchase, and once you have one of these nifty devices, what do you do with it? External Hard Drives are certainly not the only medium for storing your back ups, but unless you are ready to head for the Cloud or want to deal with a cumbersome tape library, they will certainly do the job. What follows is a basic guide to what has become increasingly affordable, reliable and easy back-up solutions.

Home Solution:
Generally speaking a single 250GB to 500GB hard drive provides plenty of storage for most households’ documents, music and photo collection.
There are many types, sizes and models to choose from, which will in turn determine the cost. The drives come in 2 physical sizes, 3.5” and 2.5”, which refers to the actual size of the hard drive inside the enclosure. The enclosures come basically in 2 types: with or without power supply. The units without power supply, while costing a few bucks more, are vastly more convenient, especially for students who need to carry their drives around campus all day. The units without power supply draw their power from the computer they are connected to via a USB cable.
The other variable to consider is the speed in which the data will be transferred to the external hard drive. The two most common speeds are 5400RPM and 7200RPM. While the 7200RPM will complete your back up faster, a 5400RPM drive will do the job just fine.
When asked to recommend an external hard drive for general home / student / office use, we suggest either 320GB or 500GB Seagate FreeAgent Go Flex drives. Certainly a worthwhile investment when one considers the alternative!

Small Business Solutions:
For companies with at least one server and multiple users, data back-ups become an essential part of the daily/weekly routine. While tape libraries are still a viable solution for many business models, they can be overly cumbersome and costly for the small business environment. Backing up to the Cloud is still not a solution many are comfortable with, whether by concept or cost. External Hard Drives provide a financially feasible and efficient solution.
A minimum of two units should be used in rotation, but we strongly recommend a third hard drive be added to that rotation, allowing offsite storage for one the drives with the stored data.
While physically very similar to the external drives described above, these Network Class models have much larger storage capacity and can be connected to the company’s network infrastructure. Along with new developments in backup software (SyncBack or PHD Virtual) this can be a cost-effective and reliable backup solution. The CIO Solutions engineers’ current favorite networkable hard drives are the LaCie branded units with 1 or 2 terabyte capacity.
Please do not hesitate to give your CIO team a call if you would like a quote or more information about appropriate external storage to fit your needs. We all keep important data on our computers, whether treasured family photos or a proposal that took a month to prepare. Keep in mind that computers are composed of mechanical hardware components, some of which will fail. If that failing piece happens to be your hard drive, we want you to be able to respond to that wise guy with confidence: “Of course I have a back up!”