How to Use an External Hard Drive

Using an external hard drive has many advantages. It allows you to free up space in your hard disk. It is also portable so you can transfer the files to other PCs as well. Before buying one, here are the things you need to consider.

Before You Buy

Think of how much space you need. A good rule of thumb is to always overestimate your needs. It’s better to have extra space and not use it than not having enough of it. If you keep a lot of pictures, videos and music files, buy the largest external drive you can afford.

Read the Manual

Before using an external hard drive, read the user guide. Remove the drive, the manual and all the components from the box. Work in a clear and clean area so nothing gets lost. Connect the drive to the PC by plugging it into the right port. Turn on the computer.

A message will appear saying a new device has been detected or installed. If the drive came with a software CD, install it now. Put the CD in the drive and follow the instructions. If the computer needs to be restarted, do it.

Testing the External Drive

Don’t go directly saving/transferring your files to the external drive yet. Make a sample text file. Save this file in the external drive. Close it and open it from the drive. If you are able to access it as always, that is proof enough that your external drive is ready to go. You can start copying your files to it.

If you can’t open the file, first check the physical connectivity. Reconnect the drive to your computer and try again. If the issue still persists, refer to the troubleshooting section of the manual.

Copying Files

The more files you copy, the longer it will take to copy them. To avoid problems, try not to concurrently transfer too many files to your hard drive. Wait for the file transfer to finish. Instead of copying everything at once, you can choose to copy a few folders at a time. Keep an eye on the drive’s disk space so you know if it’s getting full.

Tips on Using an External Hard Drive

Never buy a second hand external drive. The price difference between old and new ones is negligible. With a new drive you’ll get a warranty. Like a traditional hard disk, it needs to be handled with care. Don’t expose it to extreme heat or cold. Do not bump or knock it.

There are specially designed dusters for computer components. Use these to clean the drive (or whatever is recommended in the manual). Do not use alcohol and other cleaning chemicals; it will damage the unit.

Always read the return policy before buying the unit. If you’re going to delete the files from your hard disk, make sure it is already in the external drive.

There are lots of external hard drives in the market. Buy only from reputable manufacturers. Read product reviews and go to forums. The good ones may be expensive, but they last longer.

Using an external hard drive is no harder than using a typical hard disk, so the learning curve will be easy. If you’re tired of burning CDs to back up files, consider getting yourself one of these devices.

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