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External Hard Drive Portable - Uses for a Portable External Hard Drive

computer software simple applications

It is highly likely that most everybody today has a portable external hard drive lying around that he or she doesn’t use. Perhaps it once was a backup drive but now is too small. Perhaps it has a few bad sectors and cannot be relied upon. And perhaps there just isn’t anything to put on it. Whatever the case, whatever the size, whether it is a spinning (platter based) hard drive or a simple flash drive, there are many things that one can do with a simple external portable hard drive.

1) Install a Bootable OS on it

Perhaps the best use of a portable external hard drive or flash drive is to use it as a repository for another operating system. Many people do not realize that their computer can boot from external media. All that one has to do is press a certain key combination which varies from computer to computer during the boot sequence. This will allow him or her to choose what media to boot from, the choices being anything connected to the computer.

This means that it is possible to install an operating system on an external hard drive. If done correctly, the operating system can migrate from computer to computer and retain changes, allowing one to have a constant computing environment even on public-access computers or computers that are rarely used. This can be extremely useful for someone who does not have his or her own computer.

2) Use it for Portable Applications

A common use for a portable external flash drive is for portable applications. A “portable application” is an application that retains its settings wherever and whenever it is used but never needs to be installed on a computer. All that one needs to do to install these portable applications is copy the directory onto the drive and make some changes to a launcher configuration file, if one chooses to use a launcher.

This is an even better use than the previous one or many people. While it is great to have a bootable OS, many public computers do not allow one to get into the BIOS, which is required in order to boot off of external media. However, anybody can access an external drive from within Microsoft Windows, so it is very simple to reach these portable applications. And because there is such a variety of choices of portable applications: word processors, browsers, media players, antivirus software, etc, it is almost the same thing as having a custom-tailored OS.

3) Use it for Computer Maintenance Utilities

Many people have piles and piles of CDs that they use for the purpose of maintaining their computers. These CDs may include copies of antivimalware software, backup software, hard disk maintenance software, drivers, firmware update software, and more. However, what many people do not realize is that all of this software can easily be put on a portable external hard drive or flash drive.

It is a quite simple process, in fact. All that one has to do is copy the files from the CD to the external hard drive, making sure that the files are in a quarantined directory. The only trouble that one may encounter with this process is that the software will no longer autolaunch, but it is typically very simple to figure out what .exe file to click on in order to make the software launch. Software that launches from outside of an operating system will not work unless the user adds a chainloader such as syslinux or a bootloader such as GRUB.

4) Use it to BACK UP The Computer!

This is perhaps the most important of the four choices, but the author is putting it last in order to press the importance onto the reader. Anybody who has a portable external hard drive and is not regularly backing up his or her computer needs to do so. Backup is the single most important part of computer maintenance. And if anybody reading this article doubts the importance of backing up his or her computer, he or she should consider what would happen if every photo, document, file, video, and program on his or her computer were lost. Backup is, after all, the real purpose of a portable external hard drive.

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