Tech Toys: Western Digital 120 GB External Hard Drive

Although it is probably a bit of a stretch to call this a "toy," it is a terrific component for a number of reasons.  Primarily, I use it as my main back-up device.  I used to spend hours burning archived CDs that were only good until the next back-up.  Granted, I'm paranoid enough to continue to do that even with this drive available to me, but this is a much more plastic medium (pardon the pun).  I can constantly update my files with this without having too worry about which version is the most current.

Also, this drive is remarkably portable.  It is about the size of a book club edition hard cover and weighs only a little more than that.  All it requires is a USB connection and its power supply.  This is a great way to pick up and/or deliver mp3 collections or large databases.  Finally, the drive itself is "plug 'n' play," so you don't have to worry about additional drivers.

Automated back-ups

In conjunction with the drive featured above, if you want to automate your back-ups, here's an easy approach.  Write a batch file with just this command:

Of course, change the drive letters and destination directories as appropriate.  An explanation of the above follows: You can then schedule your back-ups as a task for Windows or just start it manually when you feel like getting around to it.

Note: It also makes sense to burn a cd/dvd (or two or three, whatever it takes) of the truely essential files and to store them off-site somewhere safe.  After all, most back-ups will save you from a virus, but not a fire or a flood (think hurricane Katrina).  It doesn't do a lot of good to have your back-up drive sitting right next to the CPU when it all goes up in flames.

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