Data, who would have thought that we could generate so much in such a short period of time, whether its your entire music collection in itunes, your digital pictures or the files associated with work. We have become slaves to the mp3, tiff, jped, word doc and excel file and all are important and need saving. Most of us have home computers with 100's of gigs of hard drive space but have you ever worried about your computer refusing to turn on one morning or someone hacking into the computer and corrupting everything yes? Then you need an external file store in which to regularly back up your files and can be kept seperate from the computer which holds the 'originals' saying that external hard drives have come along a long way since the eponymous zip drives of the late nineties (ask your parents kids, but I've still got mine all 100 mb of space and the size of my playstation 2!) so now I use an external hard drive from Maxtor called the one touch mini edition.
I bought the hard drive about 2 years ago for about £80, but that sounds horribly expensive compared with the external drives which give you 500 Gb or a 1Tb for around the same price. However, I am still using my Maxtor and to be fair have only filled about half the hard drive so far. The external har drive comes as a silver cassette about the same size as an new touch screen mobile or for the slightly older a big pack of cigars. Anyway it has 60 Gb of memory and has a lead which attaches to the computer through a standard memory link into the main computer. The head has two possible USB connections one for power and the other for power and data, I've yet to see a point in the power only USB connection but presumably there is one. Once attached to the computer or laptop, a pale bluey-whute light comes on at the extreme right hand corner of the external hard drive.
Once in use, the hard drive is instantly recognised by the computer and after two years I've yet to have a compatability problem as all new computers instantly find the files required to run the hard drive. The external can be used as a direct file storage device and indeed I use it sometimes to store images from a microscope straight into a folder on the external rather than save onto a computer and transfer later. This makes using the external much easier and it is small enough to be transported in a trousers pocket or a hand bag though the leads to make it awkward to carry around for extended periods.
The external hard drive has become an indispensable piece of equipment and so far gholds all my music, pictures, my work files including my entire Ph.D thesis.