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Thread: External Hard Drive: Portable or Desktop? And why?

  1. #1
    Master of My Soul MOTU_Maniac's Avatar
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    External Hard Drive: Portable or Desktop? And why?

    My computer has been freezing up a lot lately and I am worried it's going to crash and cause me to lose everything. So, I am looking to purchase an External hard Drive to back-up my computer files...just in case. So, which type should I get...Portable or Desktop, and why?

    Another question: If my computer crashes while the external hard drive is connected, will I lose all of that informational also?
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  2. #2
    Shivering Isles resident diosoth's Avatar
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    You'll want to look at capacity, data transfer rates and overall customer ratings on any drive, but it probably makes no real difference. Also consider USB flash memory and blank DVD media for backups.

    Then again, you also want to determine if your computer issues are hardware or software related- if it's software(sounds like severe malware that's buried in deep) then you can format the drive and install fresh. However, if it's hardware- hard drive possibly failing, RAM going bad, motherboard going bad- you need to determine what the case is. Though if it's something severe like TDSS then you may need to use another PC to clean the drive because not even a basic format will help- TDSS buries in the rootkit and bootkit which normal antivirus and even formatting doesn't touch.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Consider checking for malware before you plug in a second drive- a severe infection can jump to a second drive or flash memory storage when you plug it in. When I got hit with TDSS in 2010 I ended up infecting an SD card while doing data backup. It won't do you any good to infect a second hard drive.

  3. #3
    Master of My Soul MOTU_Maniac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diosoth View Post
    You'll want to look at capacity, data transfer rates and overall customer ratings on any drive, but it probably makes no real difference. Also consider USB flash memory and blank DVD media for backups.

    Then again, you also want to determine if your computer issues are hardware or software related- if it's software(sounds like severe malware that's buried in deep) then you can format the drive and install fresh. However, if it's hardware- hard drive possibly failing, RAM going bad, motherboard going bad- you need to determine what the case is. Though if it's something severe like TDSS then you may need to use another PC to clean the drive because not even a basic format will help- TDSS buries in the rootkit and bootkit which normal antivirus and even formatting doesn't touch.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Consider checking for malware before you plug in a second drive- a severe infection can jump to a second drive or flash memory storage when you plug it in. When I got hit with TDSS in 2010 I ended up infecting an SD card while doing data backup. It won't do you any good to infect a second hard drive.
    I run Malwarebytes several times a week, but it has never found malware on my computer.

    So, If my computer crashes while the external hard drive is connected, will I lose all of that informational also?
    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.

  4. #4
    Supreme Fudge Dynamo of Eternia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOTU_Maniac View Post
    So, If my computer crashes while the external hard drive is connected, will I lose all of that informational also?
    To the best of my knowledge, no, you shouldn't lose that information. The external hard drive should be fine and the info on it should remain intact.

    That being said, when it comes to external devices (hard drives, flash drives, etc), you still want to be as careful as possible. While more often than not the information already on it will likely be fine, if the device is in use in some manner when the computer crashes and the connection is suddenly disrupted, it's still not really "good" for the external device. It's best to properly remove the device either when not in use or after properly shutting down the computer whenever possible.

    What you may want to do, if possible, is organize everything that you plan to copy over ahead of time, hook up the external HD, and copy everything over. Once you are done copying it over, do the proper steps to disconnect the device and don't hook it back up unless you want to copy something else onto it or have a specific use for it.
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  5. #5
    Master of My Soul MOTU_Maniac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynamo of Eternia View Post
    To the best of my knowledge, no, you shouldn't lose that information. The external hard drive should be fine and the info on it should remain intact.

    That being said, when it comes to external devices (hard drives, flash drives, etc), you still want to be as careful as possible. While more often than not the information already on it will likely be fine, if the device is in use in some manner when the computer crashes and the connection is suddenly disrupted, it's still not really "good" for the external device. It's best to properly remove the device either when not in use or after properly shutting down the computer whenever possible.

    What you may want to do, if possible, is organize everything that you plan to copy over ahead of time, hook up the external HD, and copy everything over. Once you are done copying it over, do the proper steps to disconnect the device and don't hook it back up unless you want to copy something else onto it or have a specific use for it.
    Thanks for the info. Yeah, I am mainly just wanting to use it as backup. So, I would probably backup my files every week or so and then disconnect...just in case. With that said, do you recommend a portable or desktop external hard drive?
    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.

  6. #6
    Master of DVDs BCI Guy's Avatar
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    It depends on how worried you are about losing stuff.

    For me back-up is absolutely vital, as all my work projects reside in my tower. And until they are finished and uploaded to my clients, I have the only copies in existence - so I can't afford a data losing crash.

    So for me, all my current jobs, plus everything I worked on in the previous year reside in internal hard drives in my tower (6TB of total space - usually 2TB full). But then for back-up I have a 4 bay Drobo with 16TB of storage. Its set to so incremental back-ups of my work files every night at 3am. And its a fully mirrored raid system, so if any of the 4 drives in the Drobo fail, I don't lose any info and I can just swap in a new drive to replace the bad one.

    With that set-up, the most data I can ever lose would be a single day's worth of work - and that would only happen if my main drive failed.

  7. #7
    Master of My Soul MOTU_Maniac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCI Guy View Post
    It depends on how worried you are about losing stuff.

    For me back-up is absolutely vital, as all my work projects reside in my tower. And until they are finished and uploaded to my clients, I have the only copies in existence - so I can't afford a data losing crash.

    So for me, all my current jobs, plus everything I worked on in the previous year reside in internal hard drives in my tower (6TB of total space - usually 2TB full). But then for back-up I have a 4 bay Drobo with 16TB of storage. Its set to so incremental back-ups of my work files every night at 3am. And its a fully mirrored raid system, so if any of the 4 drives in the Drobo fail, I don't lose any info and I can just swap in a new drive to replace the bad one.

    With that set-up, the most data I can ever lose would be a single day's worth of work - and that would only happen if my main drive failed.
    I don't need anything that big...somewhere between 500GB and 1TB would do fine for me. I would love for my data to be on an automatic backup schedule. I am looking at the Seagate Backup Plus, but I don't know whether to get the desktop or portable. I also don't know whether it can be set for automatic updates. Any insight on this external hard drive?
    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.

  8. #8
    Master of DVDs BCI Guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOTU_Maniac View Post
    I don't need anything that big...somewhere between 500GB and 1TB would do fine for me. I would love for my data to be on an automatic backup schedule. I am looking at the Seagate Backup Plus, but I don't know whether to get the desktop or portable. I also don't know whether it can be set for automatic updates. Any insight on this external hard drive?
    I don't know anything about that one in particular, but any drive should able to be used for automatic back-ups. Its all about what software you use. I've found that 3rd party ones tend to do more and be more customizable. For example, I'm a Mac guy, but I hate Time Machine, so I use an awesome little program called Carbon Copy Cloner.

    I do prefer external for back-ups. That way you can easily hook it up to a different machine if needed.

  9. #9
    Master of My Soul MOTU_Maniac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCI Guy View Post
    I don't know anything about that one in particular, but any drive should able to be used for automatic back-ups. Its all about what software you use. I've found that 3rd party ones tend to do more and be more customizable. For example, I'm a Mac guy, but I hate Time Machine, so I use an awesome little program called Carbon Copy Cloner.

    I do prefer external for back-ups. That way you can easily hook it up to a different machine if needed.
    Thanks for the info. I appreciate it.

    Another questions, if you don't mind me asking: If my computer crashes while the external hard drive is connected, will I lose all of the information on the external hard drive also?
    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.

  10. #10
    Defender of the Underdog He-Dad's Avatar
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    Have you considered something like Carbonite. If you're worried about crashing an external drive just back it up that way.

  11. #11
    Master of My Soul MOTU_Maniac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by He-Dad View Post
    Have you considered something like Carbonite. If you're worried about crashing an external drive just back it up that way.
    I have considered it, but don't want the recurring payment. Plus I don't want all of my info saved out in cyberland. lol.
    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.

  12. #12
    Master of DVDs BCI Guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOTU_Maniac View Post
    Thanks for the info. I appreciate it.

    Another questions, if you don't mind me asking: If my computer crashes while the external hard drive is connected, will I lose all of the information on the external hard drive also?
    It shouldn't. The only way I could see a problem is if it crashed while backing up - that could cause just that one file to become corrupt. But otherwise, there shouldn't be any effect.

  13. #13
    Shivering Isles resident diosoth's Avatar
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    If you want a drive that you can plug in, put data on, unplug and tuck away into a drawer for storage, an external drive will work best. Just be careful with handling it. Or look into a solid state drive if you have the money to spare if you want something more durable to handle and transport.

  14. #14
    Master of My Soul MOTU_Maniac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCI Guy View Post
    It shouldn't. The only way I could see a problem is if it crashed while backing up - that could cause just that one file to become corrupt. But otherwise, there shouldn't be any effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by diosoth View Post
    If you want a drive that you can plug in, put data on, unplug and tuck away into a drawer for storage, an external drive will work best. Just be careful with handling it. Or look into a solid state drive if you have the money to spare if you want something more durable to handle and transport.
    Thanks for all of the info. I really appreciate it.


    I decided to go ahead and purchase the Western Digital My Passport 500GB Portable hard drive based on countless review I read that put it as the #1 rated portable external hard drive.

    Thanks again for all of the help!
    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.

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