Ext. Drive Information
External drives are useful for a wide variety of things: transporting data, storage, back-up, and many others. While additional internal drives are sometimes more convenient to use than an external drive the latter gives you the flexibility to easily connect the drive to another computer or take it with you. Compared to re-writable optical discs, an external drive is usually more affordable (per-GB) and has much faster transfer speeds.
There are several ways that external drives can hook up to a computer. Here are a few of the more popular methods:
USB - This is the most widely-available port for hooking up drives and other external devices, and comes in a variety of speeds. USB 3.0 offers up to 4.8Gb/s sequential transfer speeds, so it's great for use with external backup drives.
Firewire - This standard was popular for hard drives, as it was faster than USB for some time (especially the newer Firewire 800 specification, during its prime).
eSATA - This is an external version of SATA standard which is native to most hard disks. For certain latency-sensitive applications, it may be noticeably faster than other external connection types.
Ethernet / Network - If you need to have a drive easily available to multiple computers then going with a network-attached storage (NAS) device is a great option. These can also often be gotten in multi-drive configurations for large amounts of storage space.