Personal storage devices (PSDs) have evolved over time and today offer consumers a myriad of choices that help them better organise, manage, share and protect their digital content. These devices allow you to keep a back up of your important files, documents and other sensitive data. Being portable, these also make information transfer easier to keep you on the go.
With larger capacities, faster transfer speeds and wide options of PSDs in the market, the buyers have numerous choices, though it makes it complicated for them to make a purchase decision.
This article is a brief guide on various PSD options in the market and deciding factors you should keep in mind while selecting your PSD.
The new-generation PSDs can be broadly classified into following categories:
Optical storage devices. CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs
Magnetic hard disk drives (HDDs). Portable hard disk drives
Solid state drives (SSDs). USB Flash drives, portable solid-state drives
Here in this article we are mainly highlighting the portable storage devices such as HDDs and SSDs.
The key difference between optical and magnetic storage media is how computers read and write information on them. The former uses light while the latter uses electromagnetism. It’s faster and easier to write data to magnetic storage media. Hard drives can store vast amounts of data and are called random access devices, which means you don’t have to search through the entire hard drive to retrieve a piece of data at the end of the disk. However, data stored on optical media tends to be more durable.
SSDs are data storage devices that use solid-state memory to store persistent data with the intention of providing access in the same manner as a traditional block input/output (I/O) hard disk drive.
SSDs are different from traditional HDDs, which are electromechanical devices containing spinning disks and movable read/write heads. SSDs, in contrast, use microchips that retain data in non-volatile memory chips and contain no moving parts. Compared to electromechanical HDDs, SSDs are typically less susceptible to physical shock, are silent, and have lower access-time and latency. These are, however, more expensive per GB. SSDs use the same interface as HDDs, thus can easily replace them in most applications.
There are various interfaces for a PSD to connect to the computer for transferring information.
Various connectivity options available these days are USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire 400 or 800, or eSATA interface. USB 3.0 is the fastest interface available till date offering a speed up to 5GB/sec. The speed and efficiency of your PSD also depends on your system configuration.
There are various factors which you should keep in mind before investing in a PSD.
PC/laptop compatibility. Check out what fits into your laptop/PC. Also check your system configuration before making a purchase.
Read/write speeds. The chosen interface’s ability to read/write data with minimal latency affects the functioning of your PSD. It really depends on what your system is, and how much money you would like to spend. Firewire and USB are the two fastest interface types, with USB being the most commonly used interface.
Choose the size carefully. Bear in mind the amount of data that you are likely to cram in.
Hitachi Touro Mobile Pro portable drive
• Company: Hitachi GST
• USB 3.0 compliant, USB 2.0 compatible
• Dimension: 80x126x15mm³
• System requirements: Computer system running with Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7TM and an available USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 port. Macintosh: Computer system running with Mac OS 10.5 or newer and an available USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 port; Intel processor-based Macs only
• Three-year Hitachi limited factory warranty
Price: 500GB – Rs 4408; 750GB – Rs 5299
WD My Passport Essential
• Company: Western Digital
• Dual compatibility with USB 3.0 (5Gbps maximum) and USB 2.0 (480mbps maximum) interface
• WD Smartware software
• Compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7. Mac OS X Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard (requires reformatting)
• Dimensions: 15x83x110mm³; Weight: 140gm
• Three-year warranty
Street price: 500 GB – Rs 3350
Transcend StoreJet 25H3P HDD
• Compatibility with USB 3.0 and backward compatible with USB 2.0 with transfer speed of 90MB/s.
• Includes Transcend Elite backup and security software
• Compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Linux Kernel 2.6.31 or later
• Mac OS X 10.4 or later (only USB 2.0 currently supported)
• Dimensions: 130.8×80.8×21.7mm³; Weight: 256gm
• Three-year warranty
Price: 1TB – Rs 9900
Kingston HyperX MAX 3.0
• Company: Kingston
• USB 3.0 drive built with solid-state Flash components with sequential read speed of up to 195MB/sec and write speed up to 160MB/sec (compatible with USB 2.0)
• Dimensions: 73.49×118.60×12.00mm³
• Three-year warranty
Price: 256GB – Rs 16,679
SanDisk Ultra USB Flash drive
• Company: SanDisk
• Compatibility with USB 2.0 High-speed interface with transfer speeds of up to 15 MB/sec
• SanDisk SecureAccess software. Up to 2GB of secure online backup from Dmailer software.
• Compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 2000, Mac OS X v10.1.2+ and Linux (storage only), IntelPentium PC or Macintosh computer with USB support
• Five-year limited warranty
Price: 8 GB – Rs 1199; 32 GB – Rs 3799
SONY Microvault TINY
• Company: Sony
• Interface: High-speed USB 2.0 (USB 1.1 compatible)
• Dimension: 17.5×4.6×40.5mm³; Weight: Approximately 4gm
• Bundled software: File res-cue and X-Pict software
• One-year warranty
Price: 4GB – Rs 500, 8GB – Rs 925, 16GB – Rs 1865
Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 Generation 2 (DTU30G2)
• Company: Kingston
• USB 3.0 Flash drive with read speed up to 100MB/s, and write speed up to 70 MB/s. When plugged into a USB 2.0 port, the drive has read and write speeds of around 30MB/s
• Dimensions: 73.70×22.20×16.10mm³
• Five-year warranty
Price: 32GB – Rs 4595
Iomega SSD Flash drive
• Company: Iomega
• USB 3.0 compatibility with write speeds up to twice as fast as 7200 RPM SATA hard drives. Backward compatible with USB 2.0
• 256-bit hardware encryption built-in for your data security (PC only), Protection Suite soft-ware via download with antivirus and backup
• Operating system: Compatible with Microsoft Windows Vista/XP Home / XP Professional / Windows 7 (32-bit), 256MB RAM or higher as required by oper-ating systemMac OSX Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard (requires reformatting)
• Maximum read speed – up to 265MB/s; maximum write speed – up to 215MB/s, MTBF – 1.2 million hours
• Dimensions : 10.5×69.1×9.4mm³; Weight 0.11kg
• Three-year warranty with product registration
Price: 64 GB – Rs 11,000; 128 GB – Rs 19,900; 250 GB – Rs 36,000
Velox series V20 SSD
• Company: Silicon Power
• 6.36cm (2.5-inch) SSD with continuous read speed of up to 285MB/sec and write speed of up to 275MB/sec per second.
• Dimension: 100×69.85×9.4mm; Weight: 70gm
• Uses SandForce controller’s patented Dura-Class technology and can extend the SSD’s lifespan up to ἀve years
• Three-year warranty
Price: 40GB – Rs 6670; 60GB – Rs 6360; 120GB – Rs 9960; 240GB – Rs 20,540
Note: Some products carry estimated market price which may vary as per taxes
FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra–portable Drive
• Company: Seagate
• USB 2.0 or 3.0 plug–and–play connectivity
• Includes pre–loaded backup software
• Can be uppgraded to USB 3.0, FireWire 800 or eSATA
• Allows you to access your content on your TV, network and on–the–go when combined with other GoFlex devices
Street price: 1TB – Rs 4950 (Rs 1900 for cable to upgrade to USB 3.0)
Most bulky data—such as music, video, photographs and documents— get minimal benefit from a portable SSD and thus should be stored on a separate hard disk. Unlike hard disks, where 1TB drive is affordable, SSDs’ pricing is almost proportional to the capacity.
Though hard disk drives come in various sizes, 320GB capacity offers a fairly good storage capacity.
Included software. Most PSDs come with pre-installed applications such as security programs, sync tools and virtual application platforms.
Factors like ease of use, automatic period back ups and customisation as per the user’s needs should be considered while evaluating the software that comes bundled with the hard drive.
Support/warranty. Before investing in a PSD look for manufacturer’s customer service through online documentation like FAQs or a knowledge base. Customers should be able to reach customer support by phone or e-mail. A lifetime warranty ensures you’ll have your drive for years to come.
Physical features. Ensure that your PSD is ergonomically designed and has practical features with ease-of-use. For example, USB Flash drives come with swivel caps for extra protection. It is better to invest in portable HDDs that do not require any external power source or cord-clutter for operation.
Decide if you need a more protective case. If you’re rough on your drives, hauling them everywhere and dropping them into a briefcase or bag, choose a drive that’s robust and can take the abuse.
Noise. Unlike traditional HDDs being mechanically designed, SSDs have no moving parts, meaning no sound while it’s operating, and much safer in use.
Applications predominantly define product choice. Easy storage and transport, backup/archival, quick storage and replay of high-definition content needs to be decided first.
Next step would be to decide on devices that best serve the applications available in the market. This should be followed by an evaluation of technical features, support and warranty. Across the board, key technical features that buyers should consider while choosing PSDs are endurance, speed, security, capacity, interface options, cost per GB, in-built data protection and recovery features, bundled software, form factors—colour and shape, robust build quality including water and fire proofing, and lastly regulatory compliance.
One should pay equal attention to the software that comes with the hard drive. Factors like ease of use, automatic period back ups and customisation as per the user’s needs should be considered while evaluating the software that comes bundled with the hard drive.
The author is assistant editor at EFY