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Desktop Databanks

Biswajit.HD

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High-capacity external storage devices are becoming a huge necessity. Faster Internet connectivity, more sources of data, better hardware, and many other factors have sped up the rate at which we create and download data.
At the same time, file sizes are bloating thanks to high-definition video formats, the increasing complexity of game engines, and so on. Not too long ago, a couple of gigabytes on a USB flash drive would suffice to store a movie or two along with a few songs, photos and documents.
But today, people want to store their entire music collection, favorite movies, photo albums, documents, ISO images, and more. Haven’t you ever wished you had huge hard drive storage to save your entire collection of movies? 3.5-inch external hard drives have come a long way, thanks to the advancements in storage technology.
Today, the capacity of these storage devices has doubled to 2 TB and higher. Unlike before, you also have a choice of interfaces. If you own an Apple Macintosh, you can opt for a drive with FireWire interface for better transfer speeds. A drive with backup software and a data encryption feature is ideal for students and office users who want a backup device to secure their critical documents and synchronize data between PCs and the storage drives.
If you want to transfer voluminous amounts of data and still haven’t picked up an external storage device, pick up a 3.5-inch external hard drive.
USB flash drives are cheaper, but look at the price you’re paying per GB. An 8 GB flash drive priced around Rs 700 offers a gigabyte for around Rs 90, whereas you pay only Rs 6 per GB if you buy a 1 TB drive that costs Rs 6,000. In addition to this, you get much higher transfer speeds.
In this roundup, we compared 12 external desktop hard drives from most of the major brands on the market. You’ll find all that we’ve spoken about in the next few pages. But before we move on, here’s what the drives went through in our tests:

TEST PROCESS

We compared the drives on the basis of four parameters—Features, Build quality, Performance, and Warranty and support.
Features: Here we logged the physical characteristics and the technical specifications of each drive. Next in precedence were the bundled software. We looked out for useful features such as scheduled backup, data synchronization, and data encryption. Finally, we checked the package contents whether the manufacturer included a FireWire and eSATA cable.
Build quality: The quality of the shell is important as it needs to be sturdy and also look good at the same time. We noted if the surface of the shell was resistant to scratches. More points were given to drives with matt finish. Glossy surfaces look sleek but attract fingerprints and scratches very easily. At the end of the day, looks do matter.
Performance: This section formed the core of the test and was allotted the maximum weightage. The overall performance was evaluated using synthetic and real-world tests. We used HD Tach 3 which is a low level hardware benchmark for evaluating random access time and linear read/write speeds. In addition to this we also used the removable storage benchmark in SiSoft Sandra 2009 SP2. This test evaluates the read/write speeds by simulating file transfer using data chunks of various sizes (256 KB, 2 MB, 64 MB, and so on). The real-world scores were obtained by timing file transfers between the drive and the test rig. The tests were carried out using single and multiple files amounting to 2 GB.
Warranty & support: The biggest drawback of hard drive-based external storage devices is that they are delicate and prone to uncertain failure. Therefore it is very important that they are backed by robust warranty and support. Brands that offer a longer warranty period scored well in this section.
Value for money: We concluded the tests with the Value for Money index. This was calculated by summing up the device’s overall features and performance scores and dividing the result by its price. The drive that scored the highest VFM index was awarded “Best Value”.

The Iomega Ultramax resembles a shrunken Mac Pro. Packed in an aluminum casing with a meshed front bezel, this external drive is one good-looker. Going by the specifications, this drive had to win because it has an array of connectivity options. In addition to the standard USB 2.0 connectivity, you can also hook it up to an Apple Macintosh using the FireWire 800 interface. The eSATA interface will give you the fastest transfer speeds but your motherboard should have an eSATA port. Iomega has provided high-quality cables for all the interfaces so you won’t have to go hunting for eSATA or FireWire 800 cables which are expensive and difficult to find. The build quality of the drive is excellent and so is the the bundled vertical stand which holds the drive steady. The base and inner portions of the stand are lined with rubber pads so that the drive doesn’t slip. We used the eSATA interface to allow the drive to perform at its best and the results were astounding. A whopping 90 MB/s write speed—three times faster than with the conventional USB 2.0 interface. Also, the drive doesn’t heat up due to its metal shell.
VERDICT: If you need style and performance, this one deserves serious consideration.
FOR: Good design, aluminium casing, all cables provided.
AGAINST: The backup software has to be downloaded.

The Iomega Prestige was one of the very few drives in the roundup with such a lowstorage capacity. Although 500 GB isn’t very little, it’s the lowest that you can find on the market. The drive sports a sturdy aluminium shell with a brushed finish and the meshed front bezel is of plastic. It looks plain vanilla and offers only USB 2.0 connectivity. The rear panel has an on/off switch and a Kensington security slot for fastening the drive to your desk.
The drive comes with a USB cable and a stand to keep it vertical. You have to use the stand unless you’re fine with the exterior getting scratched due to the absence of rubber feet. The stand should have been of better quality as it doesn’t grip the drive firmly.
One thing we really like about this drive is the provision for replacing/upgrading the hard drive. You simply have to unfasten two screws on the rear panel and it gently slides out of the casing. The drive installed in this device is a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 with SATA interface. The average read and write speeds were 32 MB/s and 30 MB/s respectively as per our tests.
VERDICT: Performance wise the Iomega Prestige is just like another external drive with USB interface.
FOR: Attractive price, aluminum shell, user-replaceable hard drive.
AGAINST: The backup software has to be downloaded.

Source : Chip Magazine.
 
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