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External Hard Drives Buyer's Guide

We assess 25 of the hottest external hard disk drives from Cavalry, Iomega, LaCie, Maxtor, Seagate, Western Digital, and more.


We'll ignore the usual analogies to its arrival in the nick of time. Still, there's something about a company that lists 49 different desktop external drives in sizes ranging from 80 GB to 1 TB on its Web site.

Cavalry CAXM01T0
(click for image gallery)

Capacity: 160, 250, 300, 320, 400, 500, 750 GB, 1 TB
Interface: USB, eSATA
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps, 3 GBps
External Power Supply: Yes
Fan: Yes
Dimensions: 7.8" x 4.9" x 1.3"
Weight: N/A
Price: $225 (1 TB)
Web Site

While "CAXM01T0" may be an uninspiring name, this particular drive has a 1-TB capacity and can connect via USB or eSATA. Not only does it arrive with a USB cable, but there's also a SATA to eSATA port adapter that mounts to the back panel of your PC.

Cavalry CAUQ25160
(click for image gallery)

Capacity: 100, 120, 160 GB
Interface: USB
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps
External Power Supply: No
Fan: No
Dimensions: 5.0" x 3.2" x 0.2"
Weight: 4.8 oz.
Price: $118 (120 GB)
Web Site

The CAUQ25160 is a 160-GB, USB-only device that's powered either through your USB port or via a 5v adapter. Provided copy software will let you duplicate files or clone another drive and the CAUQ25160's biometric security should be able to keep it all safe.


Right now a one-hit wonder, Fortress has created an impressive drive with near drop-kick resistance.

(click for image gallery)

Capacity: 60, 80, 100, 120 GB
Interface: USB, FireWire
Durability Rating: All-terrain
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps, 400 Mbps
External Power Supply: Yes
Fan: No
Dimensions: 1.1" x 4.52" x 5.86"
Weight: 15 oz.
Price: $949 (120 GB)
Web Site

At 15 ounces, the Fortress drive is a comparative lightweight with 60-, 80-, 100-, and 120-GB capacity options. This is a rugged drive that's packed in an aluminum alloy enclosure that Fortress describes as incorporating a Visco-Elastic Dynamic Dampening System that will survive a 7-foot fall. It also claims that the drive is immune to severe vibration during operation. Connectivity options include both USB and FireWire.

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