With the memory almost full, the laptop was running infuriatingly slowly and seemed to be constantly on the verge of crashing — just when I was at my busiest.
I tried backing up files to CD, but this was taking time and I was filling up more and more shelf space with CDs.
So, I invested in an external hard drive, giving me an extra 250GB of memory — enough for over
Mains powered, it connects to my computer via a high speed USB 2.0 port, and requires neither additional software nor expertise to get it going.
The read time and rotational speed relate to how fast you can write and retrieve data to and from the hard disk, and mine — with an average read time of 8.5ms and a rotational speed of 7,200rpm — is quick enough to back up documents instantly. The size of a hardback novel, it can be stationed either horizontally or vertically and operates almost silently at the back of my desk.
Now I keep my whole music library on the external hard drive, and regularly copy my entire document folder on to it as well, giving me the reassurance of easily accessible back-up.
As a belt-and-braces approach, I can still copy files on to CDs, but they just cannot compete with the capacity, speed and ease of an external drive. And when the time comes to upgrade my computer, it will be able to act as go-between; copying applications, files and documents from one to another will be easy.
External disk drives are getting physically smaller yet more powerful. They are also getting cheaper — a quick internet search provides plenty of choice and comparisons. It should be one computer-related investment that will outlast the computer itself.