How to Use External Storage Well

So many people seem to think that they have to get their files (documents, photos etc.) off of their computer's main hard drive and onto external devices. The reasons for this are their normal hard drive is not big enough for what they want to keep on it, or the mistaken belief that it helps performance or is safer.

If your hard drive is not big enough for the files you are wanting to store, then it is worth looking at getting a bigger hard drive installed. Assuming your original drive is free from errors, this can easily be accomplished by a process known as imaging. This effectively photocopies the drive to a file, which can then be applied to the bigger drive. Your computer will be exactly as you left it, just with more space. The cost of this is just $70 + GST plus the cost of the new drive. Get in touch with us if you want to discuss doing this. If your computer is especially old, it might not be possible to do this however.

If you chose not to do this or it proves somehow not possible to be done, then you need to be well aware that external storage devices are not perfect. They can and do fail. External hard drives are just like the ones inside your computer, very mechanical and very falliable. USB flash drives are safer, but they can still get broken and are easily lost. I would strongly recommend that if you want to keep the files on your external device safe that you have two devices, and keep them in sync. That way, if one fails, you still have your files on the other.

If you are keeping your files on an external device exclusively under the belief that it is the safer for your files, then I am sorry to say this but you have been mislead. As mentioned above, external devices are not safe. They can and do fail. You need to keep one copy on your computer's hard drive, and then a backup copy on your external device.

If you are keeping your files on an external device because you believe it helps the computer run better, then again you have been mislead. Your hard drive is the size it is for a reason - so you can use it! The only time you need to worry about how much space your files are taking up is when your drive is all but full (only 1 - 2GB free) because Windows needs a certain amount of breathing room. Likely this is the origin of the myth, back when hard drives were much smaller than what they are now and so people filled them up more frequently.

The vast majority of people barely break 50GB in terms of files, and if you have a currently functioning computer, chances are the hard drive is at least 250GB in size. Therefore, the odds of your filling your drive up to the point where it affects your computer's functionality are pretty slim. If you have a lot of videos, big games, and an awful lot of music or photos, it is more likely to become an issue than with the average user in which case it would be a good idea to invest in a bigger hard drive.

So to summarise, use your hard drive fully as it is intended to be used and keep the external devices for backup purposes or to supplement the amount of storage on a computer that cannot be upgraded. The golden rule, keep two copies of everything you do not want to lose with each one on a different storage device.

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