Storage needs

  Scott_rob 22:49 21 May 12

Hello! I have an aged HP Media Centre PC and it's beginning to whir like crazy. It was serviced about a year ago. I'm aware that I've used a fair bit of the memory and figure it's probably in my best interest to get myself one, or maybe two, external hard-drives to lessen the burden I'm putting on the poor thing. The majority of the stuff I've got to save is music. Annoyingly I have to duplicate my music storage due to the need of having to use both Itunes and Media Player. I also have a fair few photos I'd like saving somewhere safe. I play a football manager game that also takes up a fair bit of the memory.

My idea is to get 2 external hard-drives. One to keep connected to the PC and to use on a relatively frequent basis to access my pics, music and possibly the game. So the need would be for something the size of 1TB, with fairly quick speeds that connects up easy, sits pretty on my desk and works well in sync with my behemoth of a PC. The second would be purely as a safety backup. Something smallish and cheaper that I can load up, pack away and bring out only in times of crashes and lost data. So speed is not so important for this one.

I'm looking to spend around £200 - £250 for them both. I've started doing some basic research but having never done this before, I have no idea where to start. After reading a lot of reviews I've suddenly become very scared of trying to load everything on to whatever I get and losing my life - hence the need for the backup.

I'm just after recommendations, suggestions, advice, things to look out for - anything that will help stop me making some terrible blunders! Thanks in advance.

  johndrew 11:07 22 May 12

.. beginning to whir like crazy

External drives will certainly help with storage even though access is not as fast as an internal drive. As for the above, could it be you are short on RAM and the HDD is making up for it as best it can? If you are short on RAM, a couple of extra sticks, depending on your OS, may well be better and cheaper than an extra drive.

  Scott_rob 14:20 22 May 12

Hey John, thanks for spending the time to reply. However, being a complete novice, i have no idea what HDD and OS are. That being said, is it cheaper to buy an internal drive? My main concern, as i posted, is that I want to store my music and files seperately and would like suggestions or advice on that. Once I've done that, I can clean up my PC and hopefully give it a break from the noises it makes. I have a LOT of music and photos, so a couple of extra sticks would not be suitable. I'm after 1TB. Also I would like the security of being able to save them on something seperate that i can pack away for emergencies.

  johndrew 15:12 22 May 12

Welcome to the wonderful - and often confusing - world of PCs.

HDD = Hard Disk Drive. With an external drive you need to buy the 'caddy' (the enclosure the drive is in) as well so this tends to make them more expensive than a 'bare' drive you could install in the PC. Because of hardware limitations, data transfer between an external drive and the PC is slower than within it, i.e. across connections on the motherboard.

OS = Operating System. You are likely to be using Windows XP, Vista or 7. These come in two types 32bit and 64bit. If using a 32bit system you are limited to the total amount of RAM (Random Access Memory or simply Memory) you can fit - this would be 4GB; a 64bit system accepts much more.

In terms of security of data - such as your music and files - an external drive that is only used to store is better than a drive within the PC. However, such a dive should be kept safe and for storage only and if the data is truly irreplaceable not used for regular access. You should also keep more than one copy, e.g. one for regular use on a PC internal HDD and the other on an external drive. You may also consider burning data to CD/DVD as well.

The reason I mentioned an increase in RAM is because your description indicated the existing HDD may be 'thrashing' (being accessed a lot and working hard) as a result of being used by the system as 'virtual memory'. Most PCs are set up to allow software to use space on the HDD as a form of RAM when the real RAM space is used up; such use causes a lot of access to the HDD. Another cause could be the existing HDD is running out of space and the software is finding it difficult to find a location for more data.

A 1TB HDD is a lot of space. If you had such a drive in the PC you could use it to 'store' data for use as a single copy. A further external HDD could be used as a backup/secure storage which could be updated on a regular basis. As I said earlier, this could be supplemented by burning data to CD/DVDs if you wanted to do so.

Hope this helps.

  bremner 17:41 24 May 12

You do not need to store your music twice for iTunes and WMP if all the tracks are MP3's.

  frybluff 23:25 24 May 12

When considering ext hard drive transfer speeds, bear in mind that, most now are USB 3, which is reasonably fast, but, unless you have USB 3, which presumably you don't, on your computer, you can't use that extra transfer speed.

  Terry Brown 21:20 25 May 12

If you are considering a 1Tb external drive, I suggest formatting it into 3 drives of sizes to suit your data. That way unless the actual Ext harddrive suffers a fault and wil not start, if one partition (one part) is in eror the other 2 should be OK.

Think of a Harddrive as a large filing cabinet, would you put all your files in one place or would you put them in seperate drawers for ease of access and safety.


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