Tech Toys: Western Digital
120 GB External Hard Drive
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
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.
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:
xcopy c:\*.* h:\back-up-2004-09-13\
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.
xcopy = Like the
old DOS "copy" command, only this one catches the subdirectories as well.
c:\*.* = Get everything
off of the "C" drive.
= Copy it to this directory I created on my external HD. Note that
I go a little overboard in clearly naming the back-up directory.
/E = Copies all
subdirectories, even if they are empty.
/Y = Overwrites
existing files without prompting (there shouldn't be any the way I do things,
but sometimes there are glitches that would otherwise require user intervention).
= Looks in the file exclude.txt (duh!) to see which directories not to
include in the backup (e.g., your OS and things that you would do better
to restore from an installation or "rescue" disc.
Format the "exclude" file like
... and so on.
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.