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USB: really ready for prime time?

USB compliant interfaces  enable you to exchange components among running systems as your needs dictate, with multiple points of connection for convenience.

When everything works exactly right, the quick connection feature of these devices is  fantastic.  But it doesn't ALWAYS  work exactly right.  There are SOME combinations of hardware and software that MIGHT choke on SOME  USB devices.

While all our current systems worked with the BUSlink Hard Drive, the newest one (December, 1999) balked at writing large files such as QIC format backups.  The computer would just give up entirely, rebooting itself about midway through the transfer.

Although computers may be rigorously logical devices, the logic can get very convoluted.

We finally resolved this specific problem by adjusting the acceleration settings on the system's video adaptor (my computer: properties: performance: graphics: hardware acceleration).

PC's are part of an evolving system that encompasses a staggering number of variables, each of which must be accounted for.  This in itself is a task of astronomical proportions.

Although progress has been spectacular, dealing with "bugs" and incompatibilities remains a part of dealing with PC's in general.

Even with USB.

BUSlink USB external hard drive
Also available in "FIRE WIRE" models!

Looking for this item? -  get it here...

Want to make your own?  click here...

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 it3.5" floppy disk shown for scale... external, portable, and easy to connect or disconnect with no need to open your computer's case.  You don't even have to reboot.

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 system.

more about backups

Affordable performance...

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 to work.

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 to do.

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 close.

Guaranteed security...

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 vulnerable.

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 reservations.

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.

As this is written, the product is still relatively new- the web site, while functional, is still obviously under construction.  You'll want to go there to download the latest driver.  You may also need to pick up the Windows 98 Second Edition USB compatibility files, or check for ME or 2000 patches as required.

If you have a need for equipment of this type, we think it unlikely that you'll have any significant problems working with the BUSlink USB Hard Drive.

Not certain whether your system's ready for USB devices?

Download and run the usb evaluation utility, available at

This free program from INTEL will verify your system.  If anything is missing, the software will make solid recommendations for how to achieve compliance.

Fire Wire models now available...

In a hurry?  The external BUSlink Firewire drives transfer data 30 times faster than the USB interface (up to 400 megabits per second vs 12 for USB).  About the same price as the USB units, these require the installation of a PCI card interface inside your computer(s).  For more information, 
visit BUSlink's web site...


Get the BUSlink USB or Firewire Hard Drive Now
at the lowest prices we have seen: 

BusLink 40 GB USB Hard Drive...


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