USB Hard Drive
from BUSlink- portable mass storage...
If you're looking for an easy, inexpensive way to store and
transport large amounts of data, the BUSlink USB Hard Drive may
be exactly what you need. Currently ranging from 13 GB to
60 GB or more in size, these drives excel at storing huge
amounts of data in a compact, handy package.
Unlike some other
removable "hard drives" the BUSlink is an actual IDE device just
like the drive inside most computers. BUSlink has equipped
it with a USB interface and separate power supply, making it
external, portable, and easy to connect or disconnect with no
need to open your computer's case. You don't even have to
An obvious use for
this nifty little device is maintaining backups. With high
capacities available, a single unit easily holds full system
backups for multiple computers. For smaller installations,
you can easily enable full-time continuous backups, even
automatic archives. This capacity, coupled with the
compact portability, makes it easy and economical to satisfy
off-site storage requirements for a fully implemented backup
more about backups
Far more than simple storage though, the USB hard drive is in
fact exactly what it claims to be: a hard drive. You can
access data files, play MP3 and animated graphics files, even
run programs and play games directly through the USB connection.
This is a viable, practical alternative to having a second
internal drive installed.
Purchased in July,
2000, ours consists of
a 13 GB Seagate IDE drive enclosed in a sturdy case. Only
slightly larger than a raw hard drive, the case is an
interesting corrugated design, mostly metal, with molded plastic
endplates. Thoughtfully, the corrugations are arranged to
facilitate stacking, and one side of the case has built-in feet
in case you want to stand the unit upright.
BUSlink's external power supply is a slim design with its
own power cord, another thoughtful touch that won't hog outlet
space. Although light in weight at about two pounds, the
whole thing feels quite solid. Our general impression is
of a well-made piece of equipment.
Instructions are minimal. Install the driver software,
plug in the USB cable, and turn the unit on. Sure enough,
within seconds a new hard drive icon materializes in the Windows
98 file manager, and we have 12,999,647,232 hard drive bytes
available (like any hard drive, the formatted size is slightly
less than the nominal capacity). The drive is ready to go
Fast enough to use...
Since our primary interest is transporting very large files, we
were eager to check it out. In our highly subjective, very
non-scientific tests, it took close to half an hour to write a
gigabyte of data. Not what we might have hoped for, but
much quicker than our parallel-port Syquest Sparq.
The BUSlink was able to deliver data rapidly enough to feed our
old 2X CD writer, something the Sparq was never able even to try
The drive is fast enough, in fact, to use as a working hard
drive. Subjectively, there is little difference between
working through the USB connection and using the much faster
direct IDE connection of an internal drive. At least, not
when it involves things like word-processing, graphic file
creation, list management, photo storage, spreadsheets,
financial records, and all that sort of thing.
Of course, the real advantage of this unit is capacity.
Coupled with acceptable speed and portability, the combination
is hard to beat. We don't know of anything that's even
Do you work with the kinds of files that someone else would
really like to get his hands on? Despite all precautions
you may take, anything left on an unattended system is
Keep all of your private data files away from prying eyes.
Keep them with you at all times. The BUSlink USB Hard
Drive is hot-swappable. This means you can attach it and
detach it any time, without rebooting your computer. It's
a lot more convenient than lugging a laptop around.
Highly recommended, if...
Overall, we like the BUSlink USB Hard Drive a
lot. At this point though, we do have some minor
System requirements are simple: a Windows 98 (or later) computer
with functioning USB ports. And that's where it can get
sticky. Although the specifications have been around for
years, USB devices have just begun appearing in quantity.
Incompatibilities are sometimes cropping up (see sidebar for our
own experience). We recommend you check the site at
to see if you're likely to be affected and what patches
you may need.