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InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter No. 3 - Hard Drives and Storage Media                                                      April 11,2003
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Welcome to our third InfoHQ Newsletter. In this newsletter we discuss many new and improved hard drive and storage media choices.

IDE Hard Drives with Improved Cache

If you've been watching store ads lately, you may have noticed IDE hard drives from Maxtor and Western Digital boasting an 8 MB cache. Hard drive manufacturers claim that these new drives provide a 20% speed improvement over their regular 7200 RPM drives. Better yet, these new buffered drives sell for as little as $1 per GB, which is the same price as unbuffered IDE drives, so you would be foolish not to buy them for your next hard drive upgrade.

Serial ATA Drives Begin to Arrive in Stores

Seagate serial ATA drives have also begun appearing in local stores. Serial ATA drives, in their first release, promise speeds of 150 MB/sec when coupled with a native serial ATA bus. If you choose to use a serial ATA controller with your IDE motherboard, you will still be limited to your IDE's native bus speed of 100 or 133 MB/sec, so there is little incentive to upgrade to serial ATA drives (which now cost twice as much as improved cache IDE drives) unless your motherboard has a serial ATA bus.

Serial ATA buses started appearing on motherboards in December 2002, so you probably do not have a motherboard capable of attaining the 150 MB/sec speed. However, paying $2 per GB for a serial drive might make sense if you intend to upgrade to a native serial ATA system in the near future, otherwise, you should probably stick to the improved cache IDE hard drives.

Future speeds of serial ATA drives are promised to reach 300 MB/sec in 2004. If you want additional information on seagate hard drives, visit

USB 2.0 Flash Memory Drives

Flash memory drives are nifty little devices that plug into a USB port and let you store information in flash memory just as you would on any other type of disc drive. While these drives have been around for awhile, the USB 2.0 versions, with improved transfer speeds, have just started to appear in stores.

If you have a computer purchased within the last year, it is possible that you have USB 2.0 which is 40 times as fast as the original USB port. So needless to say you would be much better off buying USB 2.0 flash drives even though the original USB drives might be a little cheaper.

USB 2.0 External Hard Drives

USB 2.0 compatible external hard drives might be just the thing for transferring data from one computer to another on a regular basis. They also are a great way to expand laptop storage. While somewhat pricey, (around $120-150 for a 40 GB model) they could be the answer to shelling out for a slower Zip, CD-RW, or DVD-RW drive.

Check out the latest prices for hard drives and other storage media at our sponsor DealTime.

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