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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger
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    External drives: Portable vs. not portable

    I see that some external hard drives are described as "portable" and others are not. I believe I have read that the portable ones do not need a separate power connection. What are the disadvantages, if any, of a portable drive?

    Thanks,
    Bill

  2. #2
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    Not as much capacity per unit is possible but 2 TB is fine by me, areal density is high but spin speed will probably be 5400 rpm, making them a tiny bit slower than a high areal density 7200 rpm drive on average. Again, when you can put 2 TBs in a shirt pocket and go, who cares?!

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    Some of those drives described as portable include extra protection mechanisms, to minimize the chance of damage in case the drive is dropped or similar. They are usually available in slightly smaller capacities and cost can be a little higher than comparable "non-portable" drives.

    I am not aware of relevant technical limitations.
    Rui
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    Portable drives require USB ports with sufficient power to power the drive. I've run across a couple of USB 3 drives that only work with a short USB cable. On the plus side, portable drives are smaller and lighter, making them "Portable".

    External drives are bulkier and usually come with their own separate power supplies requiring a nearby AC outlet.

    Jerry

  5. #5
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Portable drives are currently my favorite largely because I have taken full advantage of
    my motherboards internal SATA ports for storage and higher bandwidth speed needs.

    The drives offer excellent backup capabilities, especially for sporadic drive based images and hard copy data.

    There aren't too many disadvantages to portable drives, and it will all depend upon what you are using the drives for.

    If one has need for an external drive to be "always connected" to the main system, then I recommend that they be powered.
    Powered drives are usually, but not always, faster. It's up to YOU to check specs and match needs with the most appropriate drive.
    But for spot backups where the drive can then be stored away, portables fit the bill nicely.

    Remember too that portable drives in conjunction with weaker devices may not work properly due to the weaker USB port power.
    If you are going to use an external drive to backup such devices it would be a good idea to have one that is powered.

    Speed is a paramount concern for external drives that are always connected and often used.
    For purposes of backup they are less so.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2014-04-15 at 13:47.
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  6. #6
    5 Star Lounger
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    Thanks guys for all the good info. I'm going to go ahead and order the portable drive that I saw on sale today. I'm planning to use it for Windows image backup primarily. Also, maybe for backing up my photos.

    Thanks,
    Bill

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    Portability depends on how easy the drive is to transport, not to whether it requires an external power source. Even some of the USB-powered drives require powered hubs to work properly with some PCs/laptops.
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

  8. #8
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    Thanks for that tip, Paul. It is good to know that a powered hub can be used if necessary.

    Bill

  9. #9
    Star Lounger lesle's Avatar
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    The OP and others may be interested in knowing about: Tray-less SATA Removable Rack for HDD.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817999025

    Install them in your machine's bays, slide the bare-metal HDD in, close the latch, you're ready to go. Open the latch, the HDD slides out partway, pull it completely out, store the HDD (I use bubble-wrap mailers).

    This has worked exceedingly well for me; your needs and mileage may vary, of course.
    Last edited by lesle; 2014-04-18 at 11:43.

  10. #10
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    I've read about too many burglaries where a computer was stolen along with its attached external hard drive, so a portable drive is a wise choice. Mine is always separated from the computer and hidden away. A computer is easy to replace, but the thousands of articles, webinars, bookmarks, etc. I've saved over the years could not be replaced.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by cloudsandskye View Post
    I've read about too many burglaries where a computer was stolen along with its attached external hard drive, so a portable drive is a wise choice.
    The issue here, surely, is not whether the user had an external hard drive but that it was accessible!
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

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