External Firewire hard drive for my Laptop

  whisked 15:16 13 Dec 03

My laptops 20gb hard drive is being pushed to the max, so considering one of the above. Are there any limitations to the size of the drive i should fit, for example will fitting an 80gb or 120gb drive put too much strain on the laptop or does that not matter.

Also am i right in assuming my laptop would soon feel the benefit speed wise of buying one?

Thanks for any replies.

  Big Elf 15:20 13 Dec 03

I'm using an external 120GB drive with my 2 year old laptop although it's mainly for backup. As far as I know it puts no strain on the system at all.

Speed wise you wouldn't see any/much benefit but defragging the 20GB drive and clearing out the temp files might help.

I wouldn't rely on just an external hard drive for important data though and would instead use it for backup or for files you could afford to lose.

  Diodorus Siculus 15:21 13 Dec 03

I would suggest a new hdd for the laptop - it is fairly easy to install, say a 60GB hdd.

As for external, there should be no problems with 80GB or even 120 GB via a firewire card.

  whisked 15:25 13 Dec 03

Ok, thanks for that. I'll have a look at some sites.

A stupid question which may be related. From time to time i get a message saying,'You are running low on virtual memory' or something similar.

Has this got anything to do with a lack of free GBs on the laptop or is memory not really related to the hard drive?

  whisked 15:27 13 Dec 03

Is upgrading the HDD not alot more expensive than getting an external drive?

Also you mention firewire card, i assumed it would just use a cable to the socket?

  Big Elf 15:34 13 Dec 03

Although laptop hard drives are usually more expensive that those fitted to desktops, external drives are usually even more.

If you have a firewire port then using the cable supplied with the drive would work. However some laptops come with 4 rather than 6 pin sockets and you would need to confirm that whatever drive you buy would connect to that socket.

  Diodorus Siculus 15:36 13 Dec 03

Check prices for 4 1/2 inch disks against externals - they are probably a little more expensive but I am not sure how much.

Do you already have a firewire port on your laptop? If not, then you will need a card - if you have, then you can ignore me on that one!

  whisked 15:39 13 Dec 03

Thanks for that. I have a 4 pin firewire socket so i'll remember that if i buy one.

Are there any benefits of upgrading the HDD over getting an external one? I hadnt even thought about this before as i remember a few years ago when i had an old laptop the price put me off, but having just looked around i see they seem to be a lot cheaper now. :)

  whisked 15:41 13 Dec 03

Yep, got a port. Had been thinking along the firewire lines as my Usb card is getting a bit overused at times! :)

  Big Elf 17:41 13 Dec 03

The main benefit of upgrading the existing disk is that you don't have extra cables and drives to transport around with you. The disadvantage is that you may have to re-install everything or at least create a disk image to restore onto the new internal disk. Even if you have a CD-RW on your laptop the image would take a lot of CDs to do this as you mention you're tight on disk space at the moment.

However an external hard drive does provide you with a means of backing up.

If the 4 pin firewire port is an S400 type then you can connect (at least) an LaCie external hard disk as that was the answer they gave me regarding my Sony Vaio laptop. If it's a S200 type port then you would have to buy a PCMCIA/Cardbus firewire card (and also have a socket on your laptop to slot it in). You'll probably have to contact the laptop manufacturer to confirm which type it is. I'd never even heard of different types until I visited the LaCie website. The 2 missing pins are the ones that carry power.

  whisked 18:01 13 Dec 03

Thanks for that, i certainly didn't know about the firewire port issue, having never used any firewire products before. I do have a slot for a card but would consider another PCMCIA card as an unwanted expense.

My laptop never leaves the house, so i'm not worried about carrying extra stuff around. I think that as i don't have to worry about backing up and because i can get more gb for the money i may just stick with my original idea of getting an external drive.

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