You’re about to buy an external hard disk drive or you already have. How do you make the most of your purchase? What should you store on your device? When you buy an external HDD, you’re adding to the amount of digital space you have available to store data. It’s a wise idea to back up what you have on your desktop, laptop, ultrabook, tablet or smartphone, especially the following forms of data:
Documents, Particularly Old Ones
A virus or spyware invading your computer or device can cause data corruption and loss. Don’t forget, too, that natural disasters, device loss or robbery can also damage your computer or devices, making the content inaccessible. Those important work, school and personal documents you created could be gone for good.
Back up your documents to your external drive at least once a week, if not more often. If you’re still working on a document, a backup is essential because you don’t want to lose any of your work in progress. However, it’s true that it could be a hassle to bring out the external hard drive every day to back up a document that changes daily, unless you have a wireless hard drive. You may want to use a smaller flash drive or digital cloud backup for works in progress on a daily basis, and instead back up your old documents to your external drive. Your old documents include any documents you may need in the future but probably won’t edit often.
Digitally Downloaded Media
When you purchase music on a CD or a movie on a DVD or Blu-ray, you have a physical copy of the media that won’t be affected if your computer or device gets corrupted, lost or stolen. However, if you buy a lot of music and movies digitally then download them to your computer or device, you risk losing them.
At least weekly, transfer copies of these media files to your external hard drive. It won’t hurt to immediately transfer a copy after download in case you lose the data before the week is up. Chances are that you’re always going to want a copy of your media. A music or movie file won’t change like a document would, so they’re ready for immediate external drive storage.
Program Install Files
There is one thing you should store on your HDD that is often overlooked even by those who think to back up their documents and media with an external drive: program install files. This is especially important if you purchase programs online and download the install file without a physical disk backup copy. If your computer or device is stolen, lost or corrupted, you’ve lost your favorite programs as well as your data. To retrieve the programs, it’s easier and cheaper to transfer the install file, which you’ve kept in your external drive, and re-install the program than to re-purchase the program entirely.
You probably won’t need to copy an entire program’s content to your external drive when the install file will do. The install file will take up a fraction of the space on your hard drive, and should you need to re-install the program, all you’ll need is the install file, not the program’s content folders. Anything you saved in your previous use of the program — game stats or your own creations in a card-making program, for example — won’t transfer with the new install. In that case, you may want to save the content folder of your program on your external drive as well.
If you haven’t yet purchased your drive or you’ve found that the one you have isn’t compatible with your computer or doesn’t have enough space, comparison-shop online for affordable external drives. If you have a lot of data to store, or if you want to keep your work data and personal data separate, it may be a good idea to get more than one.
Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons
About the Author: Gerard Park is a contributing writer and IT specialist. He used the G-Technology siteto purchase his last external hard drive.