Bob Fowler

Richmond Hill Camera Club

Most of us remember media from the past that was used to store our digital data: cassette data tape, floppy disks, syquest drives, early hard drives gigantic in size. Later came cds, dvds, more compact external hard disks, usb ‘flash’ drives, and various memory cards. Except for temporary storage, the modern, compact, hard disk has proven the most efficient, fastest, and cheapest means of storing large amounts of data. It will also provide a straightforward means of transferring data to any new media (artificial DNA?) that may come along, thus future-proofing our storage efforts as well.

Until relatively recently the external hard drive has had only a limited function for data with respect to portable devices. With the assistance of a desktop or laptop computer it archived the data, and data could be retrieved from it when required. Recently that role has been widely expanded. Now a cpu (brain) has been added to the external drive in order to let it communicate directly on a continuous basis with wifi or internet connected digital devices. Your smartphone or tablet (or laptop) can now use the high-capacity hard drive space as if it were part of its own hardware. Instead of 8 or 16 gigabytes of storage available on your phone or tablet, now you can have terabytes of directly accessible memory when it comes to viewing images, or videos or listening to audio.

The chief players at the moment in providing this kind of storage are Seagate (“Go Flex Satellite”, LaCie (“Cloudbox”), and Western Digital (“My Book Live”). The reviews I’ve read tend to favour the Western Digital device, and my own experience with it has been very good.

I highly recommend exploring these drives if you have a portable device you use for viewing your images or videos. It addresses one of the most outstanding weaknesses of such devices as they are at present: they have too little memory for storing images and video files.