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Q: looking for advice on hard disk storage expansion ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: looking for advice on hard disk storage expansion
Category: Computers > Hardware
Asked by: johnwr-ga
List Price: $12.00
Posted: 04 Mar 2003 17:05 PST
Expires: 03 Apr 2003 17:05 PST
Question ID: 170714
I am running a Dell Dimension system from 2000. I bought the computer
right before multi-media took off and the 40 gig drive, which seemed
large at the time, is not so great anymore. I am looking for an
affordable and relatively painless way to expand storage capacity -
ideally without bringing my hardware in. A plug-in external drive
would be great. I would like to see how much additional space I could
get under $500. If I am overlooking a great deal by not installing a
secondary drive, then the researcher is welcome to offer their
opinion, but "plug and play" would be great. I would store all my
multi-media files (like audio files) on the secondary disk, and my
life would be much smoother. I am using my USB port for a mouse, but I
have two free external ports on my computer - not sure what they are
called, because my computer manuals don't seem to label them for some
reason. I have no other externals, so the standard Dell Dimension XPS
B800 ports would probably apply to my machine. Several opinionated and
informed options for my situation would be appreciated.

Request for Question Clarification by googleexpert-ga on 04 Mar 2003 18:47 PST
I think those two extra ports are called "Firewire" ports. 
 As for Hard Drive expansion, how much space are you looking for? 
I know you can get a 40GB USB Hard Drive for less than $150.  

The Firewire drives tend to be more expensive.
Subject: Re: looking for advice on hard disk storage expansion
Answered By: sycophant-ga on 05 Mar 2003 05:12 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Johnwr, 

There are a number of options... I will list them in the order I think
is preferable...

1) Install an additional IDE Harddrive
2) Add external Firewire drive
3) Add external USB drive

You will also find that $500 is heaps, and will get you almost
anything you like.

The informations I have found suggests that your computer does not
have any Firewire ports, so the second option may not be available to

The details --

1) An additional drive is going to give you the best $/GB ratio - as
an external drive is just an IDE drive in an expensive case really.
The downside is, it involves either a technician or your own work -
which could invalidate a warranty (although on a three year old
computer that may not be a problem).

2) Firewire is preferable as it is faster. That's the main reason - if
those two ports are indeed Firewire then it's the best option for an
external drive.

3) USB is another external option, and because of the way USB works,
you can always extend the number of USB ports you have. However it is
much slower than either of the other two, and may not be suitable for
high-bandwidth media (such as very high-quality video). USB 1.1 will
only operate at 12MBit/s (1.5MByte/s) - which is fast enough for MP3s
and the like, but not fast enough for DV (which is around 3.6MByte/s).

What to do for each one --

1) Buy an IDE harddrive - I personally like Seagate Barracuda drives.
They are affordable, fast and reliable. An 80GB Barracuda can be had
from for $140. Once you have the drive, installing it is
actually quite straight forward - here are some links:
If that's not to your tastes, the the cost of hiring a tech for this
(usually) simple task is probably less than you'd pay for the external

2 & 3) There are many external drives available - it's simply a matter
of finding the right one. First you need to determine if you have a
firewire port - this image
from the Iomega Zip drive manual, shows the normal symbols for a
firewire port, and this one
shows a firewire port (on the right, note the arrow shape).

If you have a Firewire port, look for a firewire drive. Otherwise you
will need to use a USB1.1 drive, also, if you have no USB ports free
on your computer, you will need a USB hub. You will find that many (if
not most) external drives are now dual-mode Firewire/USB2.0 - they
should be find, so long as they are USB1.1 compatible.

Here are some products (these are from BestBuy, but feel free to shop
120GB USB/Firewire External HDD - $259.99

Western Digital 120GB IDE Drive - $199.99

Maxtor 120GB Firewire/USB Drive - $299.99

Seagate 80GB IDE Drive - $139.99

I hope this helps.

johnwr-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
This was an excellent answer because it laid out all the options I
have in front of me, despite the fact that my question was not
necessarily the clearest. Evaluating the performance of each option
was the reason I am tipping, that was extremely helpful. Thanks!

Subject: Re: looking for advice on hard disk storage expansion
From: xarqi-ga on 04 Mar 2003 18:54 PST
If they are indeed firewire ports, that would be the way to go.  The
transfer rate is SO MUCH higher than USB, and for a drive that will
probably see a lot of traffic - and maybe an increasing amount of
video stuff - the additional cost is probably justified. (IMHO)
Subject: Re: looking for advice on hard disk storage expansion
From: houstonguy-ga on 05 Mar 2003 07:12 PST
"The transfer rate is SO MUCH higher than USB..." I'll add USB 1.1,
however USB 2.0 is right up there with Firewire. Although the USB
ports on this pc are probably 1.1(the slower version)

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