Based on the good success that our friend David had had with one, Vicki purchased a Seagate Portable Hard Drive with 1 TB (terabyte) of space for the purpose of backing up all of the data on both of our laptop computers.
If you've ever had a hard drive crash or any other kind of data loss, you know what a blow it can be to lose files that you didn't back up or save elsewhere.
Some files are simply irreplaceable or took a lot of time to create.
We didn't want to run into any (more) problems with data loss.
So, on this page, we summarize our experiences for your benefit.
When it comes to backing up files, there's a lot to consider.
The first point to consider is whether you want
There are pros and cons to both.
At a minimum, here is a short list:
Through the years, we have been through a series of physical media upon which to back up data:
The problem with having a lot of files (especially space-intensive photos) is that you have to find a way to back them up systematically.
To back up files on our laptop while we were on the road, we once bought a WD® 2TB external hard drive (like the one shown from Amazon.com, with which we have an affiliate relationship).
With 2 terabytes of storage space, we thought we'd never ever need another back-up device.
We encountered two main problems with this device:
To be fair, this device was probably not designed to withstand a lot of vibration -- just like the compact refrigerators that died in our trucks were not built to withstand road vibrations.
Still, it hurt financially when that $100 media died. (Perhaps there is a way to recover files from such a device, but we don't know what it is.)
We sure were glad we didn't have a problem with our laptops between the time this device died and we got our portable hard drive.
There may be a lesson here about "putting all of your eggs in one basket" (or backing up your files to only one backup device).
We leave it to your discretion as to whether or not it is wise to "back up your data backup" (just to be sure).
Read our damaged flash drive page for a vivid understanding of why this might be a good idea.
After talking with our friend David, Vicki researched Seagate devices on the website of a national office supply store.
She thought she read that the devices were available via online purchase only.
However, when she visited our local office supply store shortly before our business trip in June 2013, she was pleased to find a Seagate Portable Hard Drive in stock and on sale!
With Mike's approval, she bought it.
Upon removing it from its packaging, Vicki found the device completely covered with pieces of plastic film. She removed all of those. She inserted the plug into the device.
At right is a photo of the device with the connection wire attached.
After attaching the connection wire (or cord), Vicki plugged the USB end into a USB port on her laptop computer.
The associated software needed to be installed.
After the software was installed, the first prompt that came up was for device registration online.
Seamless and smooth, Vicki says that the online registration for this device was the easiest one she has ever experienced because its serial number came up automatically in the registration form.
She didn't have to go looking for it on the device or the box. (Very nice!)
Once registration was complete, Vicki followed the menu prompts to begin backing up her files.
It didn't take as long as she thought it would.
Following one back-up session, Vicki edited a file and ran a back-up.
The device detected which file had been changed and backed it up in a separate folder.
It is possible that the reason why files are backed up in separate folders is so that if a file needed to be reviewed at a specific time in the past, it can be found.
We purposely left this external hard drive at home during our business trip in case we encountered a situation like the I-5 bridge collapse in Washington state.
You will need to determine if "off-site data protection" is right for you and if so, where you will store your device.
The device we purchased is identical to the one shown.
Before you buy a portable hard drive, you may want to consider:
If you require additional storage (as we did), at the time the 2TB portable hard drives had better reviews than the 3TB devices.
The one below is similar to the device we purchased except that it has cloud storage, too.
See below a screenshot from the results of a July 10, 2013 search on the website of an office supply store for three Seagate portable hard drives -- where the capacities of storage space and prices are highlighted with a lime green box.
If you subscribe to an email mailing list from office supply stores in your area, you may be able to find out when devices like these go on sale.
What if an item is popular and the store runs out of devices before you get there?
Some stores may have a "while supplies last" clause.
Or, you may be able to request a "rain check" to obtain the same product later at the sales price.
Please note that many computers and peripheral devices may go on sale seasonally or even qualify for a sales tax holiday before the start of the school year.
After successfully backing up all of the files on Vicki's laptop, she decided to see what would happen if she tried to back up all of the files on Mike's laptop.
After installing the software on his laptop, she backed up the files.
Vicki found afterwards that the files from Mike's laptop were stored in a separate folder altogether.
From what we could tell, the back-up worked perfectly. We are pleased.
We do not leave the portable hard drive plugged in all the time, so we need to make sure that we back up all of our files on a regular basis.
As of the publication of this page on July 10, 2013, we have had our unit only about a month.
We will see if we continue to be pleased with the device and its performance in the long run.
Will a used device work just as well as a new one?
We don't know because we've never tried it.
Remember that a new device comes with product registration and a warranty -- something that may not be available with a used device.
Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).