Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Buying a Hard Drive

Let's talk hard drives. If you're working on a project in Photoshop, or Illustrator, or Dreamweaver, or even GarageBand, a USB flash/thumb drive is probably all you'll need to transfer your files, or back them up. But if you're working on a video project in the lab--especially one that will take more than about a week to finish, we strongly encourage you to buy a portable hard drive to save your files onto. You should expect to use about 13GB per hour of standard, DV video and 40-50GB per hour of HD video.

There are 2 types of hard drive to consider:

1) There are the tiny portable ones, that fit in your pocket or almost into the palm of your hand, and only require a USB or Firewire cable to connect them to your computer. These tend to be in the 160 GB to 1TB (1000GB) range for $60-$200 depending on what brand you get and where you buy it. They're extremely convenient, and if you don't mind paying a premium for their extra portability, they're probably the best option. Other than price, the disadvantage of these drives is that they're a little slower (usually 5400 rpm), and for that reason you wouldn't want to edit video directly from them. Generally, you'd work on your video project on the machine's main hard drive, and then copy it back to your portable drive when you're ready to move it or back it up.

2) There are the bulkier, heavier drives that tend to be a couple inches thick, and require you to plug them into a wall outlet in addition to connecting them to your computer via USB/Firewire. They tend to range 500GB-2TB for $70-$200, so you get a lot more bang for your buck, but you can't just throw them in your pocket, and you need an electrical outlet to use them. If you want to edit video directly from the drive, be sure to get a fast one (7200 rpm or more).

You can find refurbished hard drives a little cheaper, but in my opinion, it's not worth risking your data just to save a few bucks.

You can buy both types of drives at:

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