1. Computing

Before You Buy a Hard Drive

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Video files are BIG (about 1 GB per 5 minutes), so you may need to purchase extra hard drive storage before you can start editing. If you do need more space, you can buy an internal drive to add to your tower, or an external drive. Consider the issues below to determine what is the right solution for you.

Internal or external?

Adding an internal drive to your desktop computer is an easy solution if you have space to put it in your tower. Most electronics stores offer a wide selection of internal drives and have professional service departments to install them.

External drives, however, offer a lot of convenience. You can connect them to any computer to watch, edit and share your videos wherever you are. You can also continually buy more, and connect them to each other, so your computer never runs low on storage space.

Speed

The speed of the drive affects how quickly the files it contains can be accessed and transferred. Any hard drive you buy for video should be at least 7200 RPM. Otherwise it will just be too slow for your purposes.

Connection

Generally, an external drive connects to your computer through a USB cable or FireWire. Make sure the connection method is compatible with your computer; that you have a free port to which to connect it; and that you have the appropriate cable (most often, these don't come with the hard drive).

Size

The size drive you buy depends on what you intend to do with it. While you’ll generally get better value buying a larger drive, these do have their drawbacks. Hard drives fail—expect to replace them every few years—and thus the larger the drive is, the more work you’ll stand to lose if it crashes.

It’s preferable to buy a few smaller drives so that you can back up your work and save finished projects separate from those you’re still working on.

Portability

Like any other sophisticated electronics, hard drives can be very sensitive, and most aren’t designed to be moved around much. If you plan to use yours in more than one location, be sure to purchase a hard drive that is shock resistant. If yours isn’t shock resistant, save the original packaging to use when transporting the drive.

Compatability

Most hard drives come unformatted, and can thus work with both Macs and PCs. Make sure that this is the case, though, before you make your purchase.

Warranty

A good warranty is valuable insurance. Spend the time you need to fully understand the terms and conditions of the warranty that comes with your drive. Be sure to fill out and return the product registration card. Always keep a copy of the registration, the warranty terms and your sales receipt with your important records.

If your drive crashes before its time, nothing can replace lost video material, but a return of your financial investment may prevent a total catastrophe.

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