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July 11th, 2014

Hardware_July07_BWe’ve explored how Mac and PC differ in terms of specifications, operating system and software; and in this article we continue to dig into other differences between the two rivals. Buying a computer is more than looking into design and specs, but also about models, availability, security, customer satisfaction and of course price.

Models

Apple offers five computer lines comprising of the Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro. This limited selection is not a sign of weakness but a part of the company’s 'less is more' approach to marketing.

PCs have a larger variety to choose from, with industry giants such as Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, who offer numerous configurations of both desktop and laptop models. This can be beneficial in helping you find a specific computer that meets your needs.

Availability

When it comes to third party retail stores, Apple is more selective than PC manufacturers about where it sell its products. As of April 2014, Apple has 424 retail stores in 16 countries and an online store available in 39 countries. However, Macs are still not available at many stores that sell PCs.

PCs are the most numerous and popular computers out there, and can be found at every store that sells computers, except for Apple stores. This makes it easier to find PCs, especially if you don't live near an Apple store.

Security

With the vast majority of computers running on Windows, most attacks focus on PCs. Malware like Trojans, which trick users into installing the software by pretending to be a useful program, or botnets, are common to PCs, but rarely harm Macs.

This doesn’t mean that Macs are 100% secure. As Macs become more popular, threats are increasing. Nonetheless, a Mac user is still less likely to be a victim of successful attack than a PC user.

Customer satisfaction

Recent surveys conducted by PCWorld and PCMag revealed that personal users choose Mac over every single brand of PC available. Businesses on the other hand still prefer to stick with PCs.

While Apple does score high on many surveys, especially because of the value placed on face-to-face service, there are a number of PC manufacturers that offer a comparable service. Also, there are more smaller repair shops that offer unrivalled customer service.

Price

One of the most cited differences between a Mac and a PC is price. Generally speaking, Macs are more expensive than PCs due to their preference of building products around higher-end computers with more costly components. The cheapest Mac computer is the Macbook Air which starts from USD$899, while various models of PCs can be found at a much lower price.

Mac and PC both have strong and weak points. It’s best to try both and see which is the better tool for you and which will cover your business needs. If you are looking for a new system, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
June 10th, 2014

hardware_June10_BGo Mac or go PC? That has been an increasingly divisive question over the past decade with users from either side insisting their choice is the better one. While both have their positives and negatives, many people are still unsure of the real differences between the two. However, understanding what sets them apart can help ensure that you opt for the right platform for your business.

Design

Apple prides itself on its iconic design while PC design depends on which company is making them. Even with the first Macintosh, introduced in 1984, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and monitor were housed in one single unit thus reducing the number of cables necessary and creating a sleeker look. This design forward view has carried throughout the company's history and modern Macs are sleek, light, and designed to look cool.

PCs on the other hand, don’t come from one single manufacturer like Mac so there are countless designs available on the market. If you don’t like the design from one manufacturer you can simply look to others. With Mac, if you’re not keen on their design, you’re out of luck.

Specifications

While both Mac and PC have similar internal parts like RAM, hard drives, and graphics cards, their speed and capacity varies. Macs generally outperform PCs because of better hardware optimization, but tend to skimp slightly when it comes to RAM, hard disk space, and USB ports. PCs offer a wider range of customization, and you can add almost any parts you want.

Connections and optical drives found on Macs and PCs are different too. Mac offers standard selection of features including a Superdrive, audio in and audio out, USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet. PCs on the other hand offer comparable features but with added bonuses like Blu-Ray players, TV tuners, touch screens, and HDMI ports.

The main difference here is that with Macs you have generally limited customization options, while PCs usually allow for a much wider range whilst supporting different kinds of hardware.

Operating System

Most PCs today come preinstalled with Windows 8.1 while Mac runs OS X Mavericks with users having the option to upgrade to the new OS X - Yosemite - this fall. OS X is generally thought to be more user-friendly, while Windows PCs generally see a more comfortable user base and a higher number of programs that work with the OS.

However, with the increasing adoption of virtual desktops and cloud systems, the idea of a separate OS being better is quickly falling to the wayside. This is especially true if you use a virtualized desktop solution where you connect to a server which delivers your desktop.

Software

One of the biggest reasons as to why Mac hasn’t captured a larger share of the market is due to the lack of software for its OS. This is most obvious in business computing where many applications are standardized for Windows but are not available on Mac. That being said, the major programs businesses use on a daily basis are all available for Mac too, so it's more the customized software you will need to look into.

User interface (UI)

While many computer users will proclaim one or the other superior when it comes to user interface, or UI, this is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Highlights of the UI in Mac include Launchpad which is a screen full of app icons for easy access, hot corners that can be customized for various types of views, a dock featuring your favorite apps, full screen mode for apps, and spaces that create as many desktops as you like to help minimize clutter.

With PCs UI, highlights include a touch-friendly interface which contains live tiles or rectangular boxes on the screen that represent an app and which is refreshed with the latest app content. Above all, Windows has the familiar desktop which almost every computer user is comfortable with using, and may even prefer.

There are more components that set Mac and PC apart. Find out more next month where we will dig into security, selections and customer satisfaction between the two.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
May 15th, 2014

hardware_may12_BWhether you’re running a coworking space, consultancy firm or your own business; investing in high-quality hardware can save you from headaches and lost time. Making use of the fast-growing technologies with the right hardware can lead to a smooth operating business. Without adequate hardware, you could see your business come to a staggering halt. It is important to not only leverage technology but to know what is the most important tech solutions.

The desktop or laptop computer

The computer has quickly become the workhorse of almost every business, without which most modern businesses would likely not be able to operate. Whether operating a multi-user workstation, laptop or a desktop, investing in a reliable computer will surely save you from stress and sweat.

When looking for a computer for your business, You’re likely going to use a computer for your business for at least three to five years, so go for one that requires low maintenance. Many businesses opt for a reputable choice, like a Mac, or a PC running Windows. Many of the bigger name brands are known for their friendly user interface and minimal upkeep. For those looking for one with portability, try a laptop or ultrabook.

Regardless which system you choose, you need to ensure your new computer is compatible with your existing software and systems. The last thing you want is to invest in us a brand new machine and have to spend even more on new software or hardware updates.

Mobile devices

If you’re constantly on-the-go, having a trusty mobile device can be like having a personal assistant. Think tablets, e-book readers or even smartphones. Not only are these devices easy to carry around, but a lot of them are equipped with useful work applications and specifications that are capable of performing tasks you would usually accomplish using a computer. Many business owners find that the versatility of a mobile device compensates for its cost.

When it comes to mobile devices, there are three main systems businesses have to choose from:

  • Android - Owned by Google, you will find a wide variety of devices suitable for any need.
  • iOS - Owned by Apple, offers reliable products and a wide number of apps for your business.
  • Windows Phone - Owned by Microsoft, these devices are most suitable for offices that utilize Microsoft’s other services. This is largely due in part to the deep integration between systems.

Laserjet printers

Not every business uses a printer but even if your business is one that encourages a paperless work space; investing in a durable laser-jet printer can save time and energy. At some point you will need to print, whether that is a contract, documents or image files.Some laserjet printers are also equipped with a scanner, photocopy and fax function. With a price tag starting from approximately USD$100, having one in-house beats needing one any day.

Wireless routers

Broadband modems are an integral part of any Internet-connected business, but get your hands on a wireless router and you won’t look back at cables again. Not only does a wireless router keep your office connected to the Internet without cables, it also acts as an Internet splitter, meaning all your devices can be connected from anywhere within router range. Not only that, but most modern wireless routers come with built-in firewalls as well as the ability to limit a network to computers you trust, which means more safety for your computer.

Network servers

While personal computers are capable of acting as a network server, a dedicated server will give you the advantages of faster CPU (Central Processing Unit), high-performance memory and increased storage capacity. A good network server solution can effectively support your database, email applications and other files, as well as provide comprehensive security and backup options.

We recommend talking to a specialist to make sure you are buying the right package for both current and future needs. An IT partner like us can be a huge help in selecting, implementing and managing a comprehensive network solution.

Hardware is available in every market and the sheer amount can make choosing the right solutions difficult. However, once equipped hardware can enhance workflow as well as results.

Looking to learn more about hardware and network server solutions? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
April 22nd, 2014

Hardware_April21_BIf your company is reliant on computers, slow PCs can lead to delays, reduced productivity and even severe downtime that can rob your business of valuable resources. For this reason, you should take the time to improve your computer's speed. The faster your computer runs, the more you can achieve which leads to higher profits.

While there are several ways to go about improving your computer’s speed, these five methods are some of the best:

Remove unwanted programs

Computers come with pre-installed programs that you may not really need. They use system resources like memory and often run in the background when you start up your PC. Freeing up system resources can give you more space, thus improving your computer’s speed. Here’s how to do it.
  1. Click the start button.
  2. Go to control panel.
  3. Click the program you don’t use and click uninstall.
  4. Repeat with all the applications that you don’t need.
Be careful not to remove applications that may be crucial for your PC to run properly. If you’re not sure about a certain program, research it to determine if it’s needed by the system or consult a technician.

Defragment your hard drive

The disk defragmenter is a tool that is a standard feature of all versions of Windows. It removes the bad sectors on your hard drive and optimizes file saving. It’s best not to do anything on your computer while running disk defragmenter to avoid interrupting the process. Furthermore, it usually takes time to complete so you may want to do this when you’re off work.
  1. Click the start button.
  2. Go to My Computer.
  3. Right click the hard drive icon.
  4. Click Properties.
  5. Select Tools.
  6. Click Defragment Now.

Upgrade hard drive size

Uninstalling unwanted applications can free up space and improve performance. However, if you need to use several programs and you work on lots of files that must be stored on your device, your hard drive can get full in no time. It’s recommended to have at least 15% of your total hard drive space free for the system to run smoothly.

If over 85% of your hard drive space has already been used, you’ll start experiencing slowness on your computer. To fix this problem, you may need to purchase a hard drive with more storage capacity. With this, you can store more files and applications without experiencing slowness due to an almost full disk.

Add more RAM

Another cause of slowness is low memory. Computers use RAM or random access memory to temporarily store data that you’re currently working on. Accessing multiple applications without enough memory will slow down your PC. To check if your memory is running slow, follow the steps below:
  1. Press ctrl+alt+delete on your keyboard at the same time.
  2. Click Task Manager.
  3. Go to the Performance tab.
  4. Under physical memory check if you’re already about to reach your memory’s limit. If so, you need to add more RAM on your system.

Run a virus scan

Virus infections can also cause a computer to slow down. If you have enough space on your hard drive and sufficient RAM, but are still experiencing sluggish performance, run a virus scan on your system as it could be infected. It’s recommended to keep your computer protected to prevent not just slowness, but other problems that can be caused by a virus, like corrupted files and system freezing.

Don’t let a slow computer disrupt your work, if you are looking for an effective solution contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
March 20th, 2014

Hardware_Mar17_BConsidering how people are into the whole digital and cloud technology set up, many business owners are slowly forgetting the value of printers. Their thoughts are often completely shifted from actual paper documents, to different file extensions and online platforms. Which makes you wonder, what are the most common printer types in the offices nowadays? Which ones are mostly used?

These three printers below are the most common printers found in offices these days.

Multi Function Printers (MFP)

Multi Function Printers are also commonly known as all-in-one printers. With this type of device, your printing, scanning, faxing and photocopying needs are covered! These printers usually come in a variety of sizes with many being small enough to fit onto a small desk.

Aside from the multi function features that MFPs have, these are the common benefits that business owners can gain from this type of printer.

  • They take up less room.
  • They are usually lower in cost. Though it may seem expensive compared to the other types of printers, if you consider buying a fax machine, scanner, photocopier and a printer, you’ll find that buying an MFP is actually a lot more affordable.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjets print documents by spraying ink onto paper, and can usually produce prints with a resolution of 300dpi (dots per inch) with some actually able to print documents as high as 600dpi. This makes them ideal for printing saller images and reports.

What most business owners like about inkjet printers is the fact that they are usually affordable, making them an ideal device for businesses that just want printers. Since most offices (if not all) have computers, you’ll most likely see inkjet printers in the majority of offices. Here are some more benefits that people like about inkjet printers.

  • Fast printing speeds.
  • Can produce really high quality print.
  • Easy to use.
  • They can produce vivid colors.

Laser Printers

If there’s one very notable feature that you’ll love about laser printers, it would be the printer's capability of producing very high quality documents. In fact, laser printers can produce copies with a resolution of 600 dpi - 1200 dpi.

One of the main differences that laser printers have is the fact that they use toner (colored or black powder) instead of the inks that are used in most other printers.

Laser printers offer users many enticing benefits including:

  • Very high resolution.
  • Fast results.
  • High volume printing.
  • No smears at all.

What type of printer should my business get?

If you are looking for a new printer, it can be a little confusing as to which you should get. If you don't have a scanner or fax machine, it would be a good idea to look into a Multi Function Printer. Looking to print smaller or shorter documents or only occasionally? An Inkjet would probably be a better choice. If you need to print on a regular basis, or print in mass quantities a laser printer could be the best choice.

With all the types of printers available in the market, choosing a specific printer to use in your office can be quite confusing. If you need help in choosing which printer to go for, then give us a call and we’ll give you our expert advice on the matter.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
February 20th, 2014

Hardware_Feb17_BThere’s no doubt that a lot of business owners and managers are now using laptops. You see them everywhere, in coffee shops, the malls, and even in the office. But the question is, do they even know enough about their laptops? If you’re hoping to get to know your laptop even more for example, its parts and what these parts can do, then this guide is exactly what you’re looking for.

Let's take a quick look at the five most important parts of every laptop you will hear techies talk about on a regular basis and what they do.

1. Hardware

The hardware is the tangible/physical parts of the equipment. Think about your touchpad, keyboard or basically the body of your laptop and everything contained within. Essentially, every computer part you can touch, or see, is hardware. This includes the device itself and all the physical components that make it up.

2. The motherboard

A motherboard is where you usually find chips, power connectors, and memory slots (among many others). This board contains the components that make the computer work and is usually located in the center of your laptop with all other parts connected to it. It is also sometimes called the system board or MoBo for short.

If you take your laptop apart - something we don't advise doing because it will likely void any and all warranties - you should be able to see the outer components of a motherboard, with the memory and hard drive usually visible. The board will be below these components and you will usually have to dismantle other components to access it. All components, or parts, connected to the board are delicate, so it is best to let a trained professional deal with the board and any repairs.

3. The case

The case or the computer tower is where the laptops/computers inner components are housed. Many retailers will refer to this as the shell or body.

These days most laptop cases are made with a strong plastic or some form of aluminum and the size is usually dependent on the motherboard’s components and the screen. While many manufacturers say that their cases are made of strong aluminium or some other material, many are there to simply house the hardware or take damage, protecting the delicate inner components.

4. The processor

The processor is the laptop’s brain. It works together with the OS (operating system) to control the laptop. An important thing to note about processors is that it produces a lot of heat. This is why fans and cooling devices are in place and usually located at the back or bottom of the laptop.

The processor is among the most important parts of the laptop because it allows the computer to function. It can read the code stored in the memory of the computer and tell the other parts to do what the code states.

5. Memory

The memory in laptop is where data is stored. The data can be stored in either a chip with a short term memory or a drive.

There are two types of memories. The first is RAM - Rapid Access Memory which is where instructions the processor may need in the near future are stored. RAM relies on electricity to store this information and quickly loses any data stored on it without power.

The second type of memory is the Hard Disk. This device, or drive, is where all data is stored including your files and the code for all the programs installed. When in operation, code the processor needs will be copied from the hard disk to the RAM. Hard disks usually have a high amount of storage - averaging at least 500 GB or Gigabytes, while RAM usually has a small amount - averaging 4 to 8 GB.

When looking at the specs, or specifications, of a computer many manufacturers and stores will list a number under memory and another under storage. Memory is RAM, while storage is usually related to the hard disk. That being said, some stores will group both together, so it is a good idea to pay attention to the specs.

You’re time to share!

If you need help with your laptop, be it upgrades, maintenance or perhaps you just need some expert advice, then call us now. We’ll be more than happy to help you.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 23rd, 2014

Hardware_Jan20_BMobile devices are a popular tool for many employees, most of whom will at some point use their device for a work-oriented task. In an effort to allow or address this many companies are adopting a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. There is another similar trend that is also gaining popularity, which is CYOD or Choose Your Own Device.

Below is a brief overview of BYOD and CYOD and the main differences between the two concepts.

BYOD

This is a policy companies adopt that allows employees to bring their own devices to the office and use them for work purposes. While the majority of these plans focus on mobile devices, there are some companies that even allow users to bring their own computers to work on in the office too.

The biggest benefit of adopting this policy is that it can save companies money, because the purchase and maintenance of devices is at the expense of the owner of the device, not the company. This can also lead to higher productivity as employees are using their own device which they are comfortable using.

On the other hand, the biggest drawback of this policy is that it does pose a potential security risk. Because users are accessing company networks and the sensitive data stored within them from their own devices, businesses may see an increase in security breaches. The other downside of BYOD is that it can be tough to control devices and restrict access to data. Companies adopting this policy need to ensure that they have a solid system in place that deals not only with security but how the devices are to be used.

CYOD

Where BYOD is a policy that allows users to bring their own devices to the office, CYOD is a policy that allows users to choose from a number of approved devices. Usually, the company provides these devices and keeps them if the employee leaves or resigns.

The biggest benefit of this type of policy is that you get to pick what devices to offer and also manage them. This means you can limit access to apps, information, and even certain functions. There is also a knock-on effect with this system too, in that your organization will generally be more secure because you manage the devices. You can install virus scanners and other programs that help ensure your networks and the info stored within are secure.

As with most things, there are downsides to this policy too. The biggest is that you likely won’t save any money on hardware, largely because you will have to purchase and maintain this yourself. Another potential disadvantage is that your employees may not be happy with the choices on offer and may want to choose to use their own devices. While this isn’t the biggest negative, it could lead to a decrease in productivity, or if employees use their own devices anyway it could create a potential security issue.

Which policy should companies adopt?

If you are choosing between the two policies you need to pick what suits your company and employees the best. If you are operating on a narrow budget and have older hardware it may be a good idea to look into a BYOD policy. On the other hand, if you are worried about security and ensuring that only approved apps are used a CYOD policy will be a better idea.

If you are looking to adopt a new policy, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
December 26th, 2013

Hardware_Dec23_B2013 was a great year for mobile devices, with many powerful models being released really pushing the envelope of what we can do with a phone. Take for example, the Nexus 5, which has a 2.26 GHz processor. At first glance, the processor speed puts it in competition with most mid-range laptops. But how does it really compare?

Let's take a quick comparison between mobile and desktop processors.

How are processors measured?

The processor, or Central Processing Unit (CPU), is the brain of your device. Its job is to carry out instructions that are located in the program, or app. All processors are measured in Hertz (Hz), which is how many operations can be carried out by the processor in one second. Because they have become so fast, almost all processors are measured in GigaHertz (GHz). A phone or computer with a 2.6 GHz processor should be able to complete 2.6 billion operations in one second.

What's the difference between mobile and desktop processors?

Both computers and smartphones are marketed heavily by their processor, and while the function is the same - both allow the individual devices to work - there are two major differences:

When processors run they generate heat. Lots of heat. Because mobile devices are considerably smaller than computers, the heat generated by a running mobile processor is often amplified and can seriously harm components, or even melt them. Therefore, the developers and designers of the devices limit, or throttle, the speed at which a mobile processor can run. This means that if a processor is getting hot, it will limit its speed, which equates to slower performance.

Because of this throttling, the processor on many phones will actually run slower than the advertised speed. In fact, the advertised speed of mobile processors is normally the maximum. Compare this to most computer processors, where the advertised speed is usually the average running speed, and you begin to see why computers are more powerful.

The second big difference is connected with performance. If you take a computer and compare it to a mobile device with the same speed of processor, the computer will usually be able to do more. This is because the processor is limited in what it can do by the other hardware components, like the RAM, Graphics Processing Unit, etc. Computers have more space, so they can fit more advanced components, and are consequently able to do more.

That being said, processor and other mobile technology is advancing at a blistering pace and it is highly likely that mobile hardware will continue to increase in overall power, and eventually be able to compete more effectively with larger computers.

If you are looking to learn more about the hardware you use on a daily basis, we have the information you need at the ready.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
November 29th, 2013

Hardware_Nov25_CThe holiday season is approaching and many people are starting to get their festive shopping started. This year, as with previous years, laptops will undoubtedly be a popular gift. However, with so many different types of laptops out there, it can be tough to find the perfect one to give as a gift, whether you are treating yourself, a loved one or an employee.

To pick a laptop that will be not only be reliable but also make a great gift, follow our four great tips.

1. Think: What will this laptop be used for?

Because there are so many different laptops available you can guarantee that there will be a laptop that meets the needs of any user. Before you get buying a laptop for someone else, pause and make a list as to how the laptop will be used.

If you are buying a laptop for someone who will be using it for work, and works on a daily basis with intensive software like Photoshop, then look for one with higher-end hardware. If the laptop is going to be used for everyday work, like word processing, email and spreadsheets, you likely don't need one with high level hardware.

When considering different laptops, it is a good idea to actually try the laptop out in the store to see if it can handle what it will be used for.

2. Go with a company offering great tech support

Support is a factor many people who buy laptops don't consider. The truth is, there is a good chance that the laptop's hardware may at some point fail. If this happens, the majority of users will contact the manufacturer's customer service department looking for help.

Now, we all know that many companies don't have the best customer service but there are a number of laptop manufacturers with good to even great customer support. Pick a laptop that is made by the manufacturers offering good support so that should something go wrong, there is a better chance of reaching someone who will be able to effectively help.

How do you know which companies have the best tech support though? The easiest way to find out is to do a search on the Internet. You will come up with a large number of results and rankings, most of which seem to agree that in 2013 the top four brands for tech and customer support are:

  • Apple
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Lenovo
Of course, where these companies show up on the results varies according to individual reviewers, but the majority of articles put Apple and Samsung at the top.

3. Know the statistics

When considering laptops, you also should take into account general statistics. The most important statistic to look at is how long older versions and models from manufacturers have lasted. This can be tough to track down, as many manufacturers don't readily report this information.

What you want to look at is the failure rate of laptops over time. There was an interesting study conducted by SquareTrade last year looking at the failure rate of popular laptop manufacturers over three years. Firstly, it found that one in three laptops will fail or experience hardware failure and need to be repaired within three years.

The study found that Asus laptops actually failed the least - with slightly over 15% of laptops failing within three years. Apple fared in the middle of the pack, with 17.4% of laptops failing within three years. The bottom of the pack was HP, with 26.6%, of laptops failing within three years.

What this study suggests is that the extended warranty plans offered by many companies are likely a good idea, especially if the intended use of the laptop is for business purposes.

4. Look at what other products the manufacturer makes

The laptop industry is an interesting one, with manufacturers often releasing products of varying reliability and quality. It is because of this that ratings that focus on the company as a whole can often miss the full picture. One company that has marginal tech and customer support may actually have high quality business laptops that will last years.

The Internet can provide a good source of answers for you. If you take the information about what the laptop will be used for you can use this to look at the various reviews on sites like Amazon, The Wirecutter or Laptop Mag - which is arguably the best site out there for laptop reviews.

The key here is to not pay full attention to the ratings - stars, %, etc. - instead, look at the reviews offered by users. If you are going to buy a laptop for someone who will be away from the office and power sources for a longer period of time, look for reviews from users that mention poor battery life. If you see more than a few reviews that mention this weakness you should probably steer clear of this particular device.

For the vast majority of business users, you will likely want to look for a laptop which reviewers and users call a workhorse. These are usually devices that are not only reliable, but will be able to handle most business related tasks and are available at an affordable price.

If you are looking to purchase a laptop this holiday season, please contact us today so that you get the best gift possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
October 31st, 2013

Hardware_Oct30_BThere are many essential components to the computer. One of the more important is the hard drive, which is where data and programs are stored. Without a hard drive, most computers would be more or less useless to the majority of users. Because they focus on storage, hard drives have limited space and in order to add more, some users turn to external hard drives.

Hard drives are separate drives that you can connect to almost every computer. The vast majority of drives use a USB cable, while some are Apple specific and use the Thunderbolt cable. Because computers, by default, don't rely on these drives in order to operate, they can usually be connected to other devices as long as they have the correct formatting.

There are numerous ways these hard drives can be used in the office. The most obvious is to back up data. Because many of these drives now come with a large amount of storage, you can easily fit computer backups and even systems onto a drive. Add in the fact that they are relatively cheap to purchase, and you can see how they can be a useful tool, especially when combined with other backup solutions.

Four benefits of using an external hard drive in your business The majority of external hard drives are used as some form of backup solution e.g., to actually back up systems, or to keep a copy of files, which afford several benefits:

  1. Portability - Most external devices are small enough to move easily. This makes it easier to move copies or backups off site for safe keeping. And, due to their smaller size, these drives can be used to easily move data from one system to another, without the need for an Internet connection or cables.
  2. Security - While cloud-based backup and storage solutions are useful, there are occasional security issues or concerns. In order to ensure that your data is completely secure, having a redundant and equally secure solution is important. External hard drives are secure, largely because you are in control of them. Of course, these drives could be stolen so taking measures to ensure they are secure is important e.g., they don't leave the office, or are signed out and in.
  3. Accessibility - When you don't have an Internet connection or are away from your office, trying to access data that is online or in the office can be tough. Because these drives don't need an Internet connection, the data stored in them is readily available as long as you have the hard drive with you.
  4. Reliability - There are times when other systems are down, rendering the data stored on them unreachable. As long as you have data on an external drive, you can easily access it. This makes the drives reliable, not to mention that many have cases around them to protect the device from physical harm.
A question many ask is whether they should use external drives exclusively. The best answer we can give is to use them as part of your whole data strategy. For example, back up your files on both an external drive and another source like cloud backup. What you are looking to do is basically implement a redundancy - if one fails, the other can step in. This will help ensure your data is always accessible, regardless of the issue.

Two different types of external hard drives

  1. Portable - Portable devices can range from USB thumb-drives to devices about the size of a passport. They are usually powered by USB cable and are meant to be highly portable. Despite their portable size, you can find units with over 1TB of storage space.
  2. Desktop - These devices require a power connection and are designed to sit on your desktop. Despite the name, this type of device is usually smaller, around the size of a novel, and can come with up to 4TB (Terabytes) of storage space.
There is another type of external storage that is used in businesses, but isn't as popular - NAS. Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are essentially large hard drives that are connected to a network, with the storage space shared among the users. The easiest way to think of NAS devices is as a platform that allows you to attach multiple hard drives to, which are then shared with computers on the network. These devices tend to be about half the size of most normal desktop PCs and can offer as much as 32TB of space.

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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware