Optional Equipment

bulletBackup Devices
bulletAudio Adapters (Sound Cards)
bulletROM Drives
bulletOther Devices

There is an abundance of optional equipment available for your computer.

Amongst the most popular of these devises are External Hard drives, Watcom Tablets, RAID systems, converters, switches, readers, Audio Adapters, Video manipulators, and other types of external drives. Most of these items are easily installed when the manufacturer's directions are followed. Most of these companies are still in business because they have made the installation of their hardware more easy, more complete, and more compatible than ever before. Plug-N-Play and Windows compatibility are common place these days, with very few exceptions. The downside of going with companies that doesn't work closely with Microsoft (or Apple) is FUTURE compatibility. Sadly some awesome, incredible, and otherwise great tools ceased to work with some future OS upgrade. So be careful when investing in tools, to make sure the likelihood of the company supporting driver updates and OS compatibility in the future.


Backup Devices:
 
Positives: Being able to backup your valuable information. Cost is cheap compared to virtually any other form of backup. The backup's can be automated and done unattended in most cases.

Negatives: The backup data is generally compressed, thus requiring special software to read and access; unless it is 'just copied' over. So, knowing HOW to access it, and HOW to restore it is important. Knowing whether 'special software' is necessary to restore it on a new or different computer is also vital. BE PREPARED... and you'll be far happier!

Procedures: These are the minimum requirements I recommend at least THREE separate DEVICES (preferably four for more security). Make a FULL backup of everything and put it in a safe place, outside of the building your computer is located. Next, have an odd and even backups, if you can, for the daily backup of data. Use the odd on odd days, and the even for even days. Then, update your master devices at the end of every month. If you can, have two 'master devices' - odd and even monthly backups, which are rotated at the end of each month. If this is done correctly and faithfully, you will never lose more than one or two days of information. Some people love 'the cloud.' Things like DropBox, or G-Drive, or other such services. The upside is that most work. The down side is most have a few issues. a) snail pace upload speed (metered on their end, regardless how fast an internet connection you have), b) slow down load speed, especially compared to a USB3 external hard drive or RAID.

Cautions: Make sure that the drives are working. IF you're using some compression software, that requires 'restore' software, then DO NOT EVER lose the software! For Windows, in particular, there are three sets of files - 1) program files, 2) data files, and 3) SYSTEM FILES (drivers, background subroutines, etc. that happens where normal people can't see it). There are also hidden registry files which cn sometimes be a major problem, often requiring re-installation when there are major system problems. Call for help of an experienced tech when in doubt, especially if you have valuable data that is otherwise irreplaceable.

Considerations: I do NOT suggest relying upon a single external backup drive, unless that is really all you can afford. With the cost and advantages of adding an additional hard drive, it's incredibly powerful and cost effective, with multiple terabyte drives under $100, and serious highspeed multi- terabyte RAID drives available for less than $250. It's good to have at least one DVD or extra harddrive backup of real important stuff, because they are easier to store (and mail)... and less susseptible to any magnetic impulses or devices (which hard drives are sensitive to).

For the curious... copying ONE terabyte of information to a USB2 drive takes about 20 hours. Copying the same one terabyte to a USB3 drive takes about 4 hours. In general, the USB3 is about 10 times faster, but there are a variety of factors such as file size, file type, amount of compression already used on the files, amount of compression (if any) being applied to the files in the transfer process. For me, because I do a lot with huge photographic images and videos, USB3 is vital. I've ceased using USB2 for all office drives, and all but a couple specialty items.


Audio Adapters (Sound Cards):

There are many sound cards out that are good to great. Just be careful about the drivers... future upgradability and use. Stick with known, name brand cards, and double check any compatibility if you're using any specialtiy software.

Positives:Every video, interactive training, and multimedia program is greatly enhanced with sound, and often requires sound. It is a great benefit, even if you only you head phones.

Negatives: Just compatibility issues for off-brands.


ROM Drives:

Whether DVD, Blu-Ray, CD, there are options. In general, I suggest as fast as you can afford, with as much flexibility for reading AND WRITING as you can afford. Over 70% of the worlds software is distributed on either some type of laser disc (DVD, Blu-ray, or CD). The remaining 30% is disc-LESS, and available for download only, over the internet. That number is growing, as are the 'cloud based' applications, which require internet to login and actually use.

Problems: Try to stay away from proprietary drive types. The easiest way to spot them, although by far not the best, is where does the ribbon cable on the drive plug in? If it is the same place as your hard drives, great! If it is to a "normal" standard SCSI-x controller, that is more expensive but generally good technology, although not as fast as the SSD, USB3 or even most of the highspeed eSATA stuff available today. But, if the drive plugs in to the sound card be darn careful!!! If the drive plugs into the sound card odds that it's proprietary, which can be very bad for future upgradability or expansions! For example, if the drive goes bad, finding a replacement maybe difficult to impossible. If the sound card goes bad, it will likely take out the drive it's controlling also. Changing the setting for the card might be physical jumpers on the card, or software settings (through proprietary software drivers - which is fine, if you never lose or misplace them).

Brands: Toshiba, Teac, Mitsumi, and Panasonic have all proven to be solid drives over the years.


Other Devices:

I will try to add more information about the various other devices as users request such information. There are so many different types, and over the years the information has just accumulated. Ask, and I will try to get you, and future versions of these documents, the answers.

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