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Here's a quick round-up of all the types of available external storage:
External hard drive: An external hard drive or a Firewire hard drive is going to give you the most capacity -- up to 500GB from a single server, more from bundled servers. And topping out at about $500, the price isn't unreasonable. Think about this: Do you have the USB or Firewire space? It's not going to be very portable or able to take much of a meeting. Also, do you want anyone else to have access to your data?
External removeable media: You can easily hook up a recordable CD or DVD writer to your PC. In theory, this gives you capacity that's limited only to the amount of media you want to buy. Think about this: How much information do you want to store on removeable media? Digital formats are becoming much more convenient and less expensive.
Easily portable storage: USB Flash drives are useful and suprisingly inexpensive. Minidiscs have a cult following, especially among field recorders. Memory cards make transfering from peripherals to your main PC very easy. Think about this: All of these are convenient, but they top out at 8GB right now. So they can be part of the solution, but not all of it. Portable hard drives are just starting to appear on the scene in this category.
Network storage: If you're working on a home or office network, you can set up a file sever and access it through the network in what's called network-attached storage (NAS). You can dedicated an entire machine to file server work and get plenty of space to use. But it can be expensive, compared to the cost of a hard drive. Think about this: Do you want (or need) to share your data?
Bottom line: The easiest option for ongoing storage is still a hard drive. For portables, there are lots of choices.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|