Capitalizing on the buzz around green IT, Seagate and Western Digital have released new "green" hard drives designed to use less power (in part by spinning more slowly than the latest generation of drives) and produce less heat (thus requiring less cooling).
Stories by Rich Ericson
Maxtor's Central Axis (US$319.99) offers a new way to add a centralized, always-available terabyte of storage to your local network, whether you install it at home to share media files or set it up at work to share proposals among your colleagues. You can even stream your media to UPnP AV-compatible (Universal Plug and Play Audio/Visual) networked entertainment systems without using a computer. Best of all, by setting up an account with Seagate Global Access, you can store and retrieve files from the Central Axis device over the Internet.
USB 2.0 is the most popular connection technology for external devices, with FireWire (either 400 or 800) a close second. However, if you really want extreme speed, eSATA is the way to go, as Seagate Technologies' new FreeAgent XTreme drive proves.
Are you looking to share files online, back up your own data or transfer files between Windows, Mac and Linux systems? Take a look at Dropbox, a terrific online service that just came out of beta mode combines file and folder mirroring/synchronization with an easy-to-use online interface that's efficient and well-designed. You can set up the service on any of your systems (it supports Windows, Mac, and Linux).
To be truly effective, a backup application must let you easily choose what you back up, simplify recovery and not slow down your work. So I was looking forward to evaluating DataSentinel, a combination of hardware, software and storage service.
These days, you never know what connections you'll need to add to an older system -- or, for that matter, to a new one. (How many ports does that Macbook Air have again?)
There's no such thing as too much protection for your valuable files. Although external hard drives can provide backup copies of files on your hard drive, what if you use external drives for primary storage? Sure, you can use yet another external backup drive, but a better solution might be a RAID array with two drives. Western Digital offers such a system with its new My Book Mirror Edition ($AUD699).
If you want to squeeze the greatest amount of data onto your hard drive, compression is the way to go -- and the ZIP format has long been a trusted method that nearly any Windows user can invoke. SmithMicro's StuffIt Deluxe 12 is a file-compression utility on steroids: it can archive and compress files of all types (to the Stuffit format and even to ZIP itself). The real question is: How well does it hold up against a well-known and popular application such as WinZip?
Next to a laptop's screen, the hard drive is one of the most sensitive parts you need to be concerned with. Samsung's new SSD (solid state disk) replaces a hard disk drive with flash memory (NAND flash, to be precise). The result: a more reliable, quieter, cooler, and faster way to operate your laptop.
Sony Electronics' Vaio TZ191N notebook proves that good things do come in small packages. Inside the black carbon-fiber case is an Intel Centrino Duo processor (a 945GMS chip running at 1.2 GHz) with a bus speed of 533 MHz, 2GB DDR2 SDRAM and a double-layer DVD writer. The 11.1-in. WXGA active-matrix TFT color LCD screen (1,366 by 768 resolution) is amazingly sharp and drew oohs and ahhs from colleagues. In terms of size and weight, it's a road warrior's dream: It measures 10.9 in. wide by 7.8 in. deep by 1 in. high and weighs in at a mere 2 lb. 10 oz. (with battery) or 3 lb. 6 oz. (if you throw the power cord into your travel bag).