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'nuther useful gizmo

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Well, with the expansion of Shelly's business, we needed more space for backing up data. We've got a 60 gig Que!M3 firewire drive that's worked very well, but it's full, and adding more computers is just gonna make it worse. I looked into getting a second external drive until I found this.

http://www.compgeeks.com/details.asp?invtid=MAP-302F-01

It's basically an enclosure that'll hold two 3.5" drives. It's also got a power supply and a IDE-Firewire convertor inside, so you can snap in a couple of cheap internal IDE drives and hook 'em up to your computer via a firewire cable. Plus it looked like a great deal. I could buy the enclosure for $60 and a 120-gig IDE hard drive for $99 (after rebate) and I'd have a drive with twice the space of the old Que drive for less than I paid for the Que drive. Plus it'd still have an open slot for a second drive when it came time to expand more.

Well all went according to plan until I had it all hooked up. The old Que drive was already partitioned and formatted, so I just had to plug it in. I didn't have that luxury this time. The written-in-China instructions that came with the new enclosure said to use FDISK under Windows XP to partition and format the drive.

THIS IS A DAMN LIE!

As of Windows XP, FDISK is officially a friend of the dinosaurs. FDISK doesn't ship with XP, and it won't work under XP. Thankfully, a little googling got me:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;309000

Turns out Windows XP has drive partitioning and formatting built into one of its system management services. The service was a lot friendlier than the tech-note lets on. When I started it and clicked "drives", it noticed that I had an uninitialized drive and offered to partition and format it for me. All I had to tell it was to use NTFS, and it was off to the races. It takes quite some time to format 120 gig, but everything was hunky-dory once that was taken care of.

Anyway, if you're looking for a good backup solution, this is it. It's not as portable as the little baby drives I've seen, but considering it's got a built-in power supply, it's not too bad. Also, the price is right.

Note 1: Use the coupon code "fatwallet" for 10% off at Computer Geeks.

Note 2: When I added the case to the shopping cart, it recommended that I buy a firewire cable. Don't bother, because a cable comes with the case.
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