How to Use an External Hard Drive

External hard drives are easy to use. For most external hard drives, the only thing you have to do is plug an interface cable into your computer’s USB port and into your external hard drive, install any necessary software on your computer, and drag and drop documents onto the hard drive folder that pops up.

The Basics of Using an External Hard Drive

If you’re looking to add extra storage to your computer or if you want a place to backup and store important files and documents, you’ll want to invest in an external hard drive. External hard drives are devices that hold data and documents. Your computer contains a hard drive that stores all your files, your computer’s operating system, and applications. An external hard drive is just like your computer’s hard drive except it is, as the name implies, not built into your PC and is instead housed in its own enclosure. External hard drives are portable (some more than others) and can be connected to a variety of computers. Some external hard drives have their own cooling fan. Although getting an external hard drive as a data backup device can cost you extra money, the cost is far less significant verses having to pay for data recovery in the event of your main hard drive data loss .

Different External Hard Drives

When looking for an external hard drive, take into consideration the type and size of the documents you are planning to store on the drive. External hard drives range in capacity from the pocket-sized USB flash drives that store 128 MB to 2 GB, small PDA-sized easily portable hard drives that hold 100 to 500 GB, or the larger and higher capacity drives that store anywhere from 500gb to 2 TB or more. Think about how often you’ll be traveling with your external hard drive, how much memory you’ll need, and how much money you’ll want to spend.

Connecting To Your Computer

When deciding which hard drive to purchase, you won’t have to think about which will be easiest to install, because virtually all external hard drives are a breeze to connect to your PC or Mac. A high-speed interface cable is all you need to connect your hard drive to your computer, and most external hard drives come with this cord. Most interfaces are USB, Firewire, and eSATA. Depending on the interface of the external hard drive they can be connected to any computer with a USB, Firewire, or eSATA port. This allows you to easily share documents, photo's, and files with other computers. Once connected, the computer may ask to install specific software. Some software allows you to schedule regular and automatic backups, and will let you determine which files you want to copy. Since many people forget to backup files before it’s too late, this can be an especially handy feature. Now all you have to do is drag files into the external hard drive’s folder.

About USB Drives

There are two types of USB ports—the regular USB port and a high-speed USB port, also known as USB 2.0. Newer computers are USB 2.0 compatible as this allows for faster file transfer rates. Many older computers, though, are only equipped with regular USB ports and in order for them to recognize USB 2.0, you’ll have to install an expansion cord on the motherboard. Always make sure the external hard drive you plan on purchasing is compatible with your computer’s USB drives.

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