There are certainly a number of reliable ways to back up your computer's data. Unfortunately, most methods include inconveniences that prevent the majority of us from doing so on a regular basis, and can also make restoring data problematic as well.

Common strategies for backing up data, along with possible inconveniences, include:

- Floppy disks - Which are now really too limited in capacity to be considered a practical option.

- Tape - A reliable and long accepted technology, but data transfer is often too slow to make this acceptable for many users. This is particularly true when all you need is to restore a single file that has been recorded at the end of the tape.

- Removable Storage - Jazz, ZIP and other removable drives have been in use for years. However, these units are proprietary in nature, prone to failure and tend to be more expensive that other options.

- Internet - Many Internet-backup services exist, but these require a robust Internet connection, raise data security concerns and can be inconvenient for notebook users as they may not be online on a consistent or predictable schedule.

- CD - A method growing in popularity due to advantages in cost, speed and universal support for the format. However, many users experience frustration in the restoration process as files are often converted to "read-only" status during the backup procedure. Additionally, many users complain that after a system crash, their CD drives often either do not work or may have difficulty in reading the backup CDs, at least without first reloading proprietary software.

While each of the various drawbacks mentioned above can certainly be overcome, a backup option that might finally make the process both simple and reliable enough to be used by everyone can be found in the use of the newer generation of external hard drives.

There are several advantages that come from using an external hard drive for your data-backup needs:

1) There are no special file formats to contend with, and these units are compatible with any relatively modern system. This makes the process of backing up as simple as using your mouse to "drag and drop" either your entire system, or just particular files and folders, to the external hard drive.

2) Transfer speed, which has been an issue in the past, is now quite acceptable, particularly with support for the newer USB 2 standard, which is faster than even IEEE 1394, commonly referred to as FireWire.

3) The balance of price versus capacity has now reached a very attractive point, with a whopping 80 GIG of external storage now available for as little as $230.

Combined, these factors essentially remove all of the obstacles previously associated with backing up and restoring data, and also make the process so simple and fast as to almost become enjoyable.

While many manufactures are currently in the marketplace, PockeTec offers a very attractive line of external drives. For users who do not need "on the road" portability, consider the 80 GIG drive mentioned above.

If extreme portability is preferred, then take a look at their "Pockey" line of portable drives. These units measure just 3" x 5" and do not require external power cables. Instead, they draw the current they need through the USB connection to your computer. With pricing starting at $200 for 20 GIG these might be the perfect solution for the notebook user who needs a reliable and simple backup option, in addition to unparalleled probability.

For more information on their product line, visit www.pocketech.net


Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale