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What Is an External Hard Drive?

An external hard drive.
An external hard drive may be moved easily between multiple computers.
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  • Originally Written By: Michael Giuffre
  • Revised By: A. Joseph
  • Edited By: R. Kayne
  • Last Modified Date: 22 April 2014
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A hard drive is a computer component that holds data. Every computer needs at least one hard drive to store its operating system, programs and user information. This drive usually is internal, or built into the computer, but as computer systems have evolved and different needs, threats and circumstances have arisen, external hard drives have become more popular. External hard drives usually are used in addition to internal hard drives in order to store more data. They also allow the user to put sensitive, confidential or otherwise important information on them, then disconnect them and store them in secure locations.

Physical Characteristics

An external hard drive sits outside the main computer tower in its own enclosure. This portable encasement is slightly larger than the hard drive itself, and it sometimes contains a cooling fan. The external hard drive is connected to the computer via an interface cable, which allows the external hard drive to communicate with the computer so that data can be passed back and forth.

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Why It is Needed

Internet access regularly exposes computers to potential security threats such as Trojan horses, viruses and spyware. It has become increasingly difficult to guard against these threats, even when employing firewalls and antivirus programs. Aside from online threats, multiple family members often use the same system, putting sensitive documents at higher risk of inadvertent corruption or loss. Additionally, the space required for multimedia storage has soared, with digital media files often taking up large amounts of space on a user's hard drive. All of these concerns can be addressed with an external hard drive.

Advantages

A portable or external hard drive allows the user to back up or store important information separate from the main internal hard drive, which could become compromised, damaged or corrupted. Sensitive documents, large music files, movies, images and other backup files can be kept securely and safely on an external hard drive. Another advantage of an external hard drive is that it is portable and operates on a plug-and-play basis so that other compatible computers can recognize the drive as a storage device and can be used to access the files. A user can easily transfer files from the computer to the portable hard drive or from the portable drive to the computer, or programs can be run directly from the portable hard drive.

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Discuss this Article

AgarwalJ
Post 171

I Just bought WD My passport 1 TB external USB 3.0 hard drive and connected it to my Lenovo Y430 ideapad with Windows Vista. Now my computer is not reading the desktop.

When I turn on my PC, it tells me that F:\user\desktop is unavailable, and I have no idea how the F drive would somehow get into my startup or registry or whatever it is. The other manifestation of whatever (registry?) error this is also makes it impossible for me to open any Microsoft office files. Anything else - pdf, jpg, works fine, but no Microsoft files will open on from my computer.

I have to now attach my hard drive (F:) to see my desktop and open Microsoft files.

Please help me fix the problem so that this message does not appear when I start my computer and I do not need to attach my hard drive to see desktop. How can I change the location back?

anon347316
Post 170

I have a WD Passport external Hard Drive 250 GB. My PC does not recognizes it now. I cannot open it with my laptop, either. I have many necessary stuffs in it. What can I do to recuperate my files. I will appreciate your help.

amypollick
Post 169

@anon336787: An external hard drive may solve the problem you're having if you move some of the content on your laptop to the external hard drive.

I think it's a storage problem in that you've got so much stuff on your laptop that you're exceeding its capabilities, especially if it's an older machine.

I'd look at putting memory chewers like photos and graphics on the external. You should also probably look at your installed programs to see if you've got some that are memory hogs.

My experience is that when your computer starts running slow, you've probably just got too much stuff on it, so moving some of the stuff to the external could very well perk up the performance.

anon336787
Post 168

I'm waiting for my daughter to answer this question that I see nowhere in the questions above. It seems she bought an external hd because she was interacting with/streaming, etc., all sorts of internet websites. So, question: I have plenty of storage still on my Acer Aspire One net/notebook, but when I log onto WordPress, some of the blogs with lots of imagery do not open and my pc freezes. Also, more important, the link to a WP site will not open for me. In other words, there is a WP site that allows me to share my work through a special link they have that connects to facebook, etc., etc. Their blog site opens up but not the special link that would make my life so much easier.

It is also true that when I install any anti-virus program, my notebook slows down and then freezes, whether I'm on internet or using Word, etc. It looks like all these posts and answers are about storage. But mine is not a storage problem; it's an operating problem. Does the external hard drive resolve this problem?

bernie1985
Post 167

The mother board on my toshiba satellite L505D-S5983 laptop died. I now have a HP2000-369WM laptop. My question is; how do I get the files on the hard drive (which is still good) from the broken computer to my new HP laptop? I need details because I do not know where to start or what equipment to purchase.

anon247865
Post 166

My laptop is no longer recognizing my Western Digital 1TB external hard drive and I have been told that simply moving it from location to location has destroyed the drive and I've lost all my photo files. Is this possible? This is the second Western Digital unit I have lost now. I am hoping someone has an answer for me.

anon191144
Post 165

If I back up video files onto an external hard drive, then delete them from my computer, will they be deleted from the hard drive as well, when I plug it in for another back up job?

tmote121990
Post 164

when you buy a new game can you download it on an external hard drive?

anon166840
Post 163

please, i need help. i have a 500g toshiba external hard drive and i have about five years of work backed up on it. i tried to open it today and it keeps telling me i need to format the drive before i can use it. please i have so much work on it. --Merle

anon156578
Post 162

I have a hp 2tb usb plug and play external hard drive and I'm trying to backup some videos on my dvr system security cameras and every time i put the usb in it says "no usb disk." what does this mean? I'm so confused.

anon156148
Post 161

Can you operate an external hard drive and the default internal hard drive at the same time?

anon155707
Post 160

my hard drive isn't recognised by the pc. could i get an external hard to help my media player work and be able to burn my music off the external hard drive? thank you.

anon150216
Post 159

I made a very slight addition to a document file as a test run. I have an external hard drive set to a scheduled weekly update. The test run addition didn't copy to my external hard drive. Does anybody know why this didn't happen? I'm kind of new at this, but setup seemed very straightforward. Thank you.

anon145393
Post 158

i am wanting to buy a external hdd. i travel and i was wondering if i could put music and movies on it and watch movies and listen to the music on anything other than a computer.

anon137081
Post 157

I have an older computer that works fine running XP. It only has a 1G drive on it and I want to stream movies. could I use an external drive for this function?

anon136711
Post 156

My computer crashed. It had a virus on the hard drive. if i plug in an external hard drive and take out the hard drive will it work?

anon135480
Post 155

Is there a difference between an external hard drive and a free agent external hard drive?

anon128434
Post 153

I've been traveling with my external hard drive a lot and haven't used it for about a week. I turned it on last night and the light came on but the fan wasn't on and the computer wasn't recognizing it. I don't know what to do.

~ Mel

anon104486
Post 152

I have just purchased an external hard drive and was wondering if I could delete the files that I have copied to the hard drive off my computer? my disc space is low and I thought the external hard drive would be a solution.

anon101386
Post 151

does a computer have to be fully powered "on" in order for an automatic backup to occur at a specified time with the Seagate Free Agent GoFlex 500GB external hard drive, or can it be in "hibernate" mode?

Starwgt
Post 150

I have two computers and one external hard drive and I want to share it over the network but I don't want the other computers on the network besides my two to have access to it. how do I go about doing that? I have Windows 7 if that helps any. Thanks.

anon99246
Post 149

I want to upgrade to a larger external drive. How do I transfer files on the old drive to a new larger external drive?

anon97291
Post 148

I am going off to college and was wondering whether or not the external hard drive I choose has to be portable. I have a laptop. Any ideas?

anon96261
Post 147

can an external hard drive be used as a hard disk?

Gigel Duru
Post 146

An external hdd is usually used for backup. But nowadays you should find other use for it because online backup is much better, and much safer.

I am using Dmailer Backup Software for one year or so and i didn't had any problem with it or the software, and by the way their software is free to use, and their online backup is also free but only up to 3gb.

anon91604
Post 145

Is there a difference between an external hard drive and an expansion hard drive? And more importantly, are there any significant differences between how they can (or should) be used? Grateful for any help or clarity!

anon87886
Post 144

could someone tell how to unpartition my external drive which I have divided into three letters.

anon84496
Post 143

I recently had a new hard drive installed onto my laptop and now have my old hard drive in a caddy which i am trying to transfer items from.

I had an insurance policy saved on my desktop which i need and i don't know where to find the desktop files on this external hard drive. can anyone help me please? thanks.

anon83626
Post 142

I just purchased a Seagate Free Agent Go 500 GB Portable Drive. I want to use it to upload videos to and wonder if i need to also load the camera software to the external drive so I can make movies that connects all the video clips? The user guide for the external drive only talks about using it to back up files.

anon81927
Post 140

Photographers: I use a Western Digital 300 gig external to store all of my photos. Before uploading your photo's, open your external, (double-click icon)create a folder and name it appropriately, such as "John's B-day".

The soon to be uploaded pics need a place to go, right? Now plug in your photo card. You should be prompted on "where" to store them. Find the folder and import. Simple.

I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Neither one of these are "storage" places. I import images from my external, work on them then export the finished images where ever I want them. For me, I keep small jpegs on my desktop and larger files on the external.

So, I would have a "John's b-day" which are the original files and another folder "John's bday corrected" on the external HD. These are easily accessed from the WD icon on your desktop. And yes, it saves a lot of room.

Thanks to this site, I am on to try to move itunes over. Thanks everyone.

anon79898
Post 139

I have a slow running computer; probably due to my adult children downloading volumes of music and movies.

I recently contacted the company where I purchased the computer and they suggested an external hard drive. However they didn't explain how the system works in a way I could understand. This may have something to do with a language barrier with the technician. In any case, I decided to google to find the information on my own and I came across you site.

This was extremely helpful to me and was written in a way that people who are not quite so computer savvy could understand. Thank you so much for all your information. --Rosanne

anon78671
Post 138

Can I change my external hard drive location to E on HP computer?

anon78349
Post 137

In my opinion, I think that the external hard drive is one of the best computer products that have ever been invented. Now that we have external hard drives, we do not have to absolutely clean our hard drives.

anon76188
Post 136

could someone tell me a good make of portable hard drive to buy and one that's easy to use? i want to put my music on it. does this mean i can delete from my laptop and would i be able to put my itunes on it?

anon74643
Post 135

i need to know how to take my games from the computer to the hard drive I bought one a month ago, just so i could use it for my games. i can't seem to figure out how to take them from the computer where they are all downloaded to the hard drive.

anon74254
Post 134

can an external hard drive run programs like microsoft office or word, can I down load programs like these on to an external hard drive and run them on the computer is plugged into?

anon71259
Post 132

1. The Hard drive disc is not a cd disk.

2. if you install programs on the external then you can run it while plugged in. Such as games.

3. your pc won't crash if your external is bigger than its hdd.

4. its not possible to use an external to boot. the speeds are too slow.

5. its possible to run itunes on it. try it.

6. if you download something you can choose where to save it.

anon68063
Post 130

All I want to do is save my recovery drive D: to my external drive so that it's bootable. In case my PC crashes. If i'm wrong please tell me what to do and the correct way. I have an HP netbook, also free agent go 250gb and 16gb flash drive. Can I make a bootable disaster recovery file on my portable hard drive?

anon66544
Post 128

can I put a disk that I need to download in this external hard drive and it goes on my laptop?

anon66203
Post 126

i'd like to ask if i can move my installed game which is in my C drive, to my external hard drive.

anon65476
Post 125

all right, so it dropped on the floor. It didn't work anymore and I can't afford another so I let a friend bust it open. Now there's a disc in there that's about the right size for a disc drive and I'm wondering if it's a really bad idea to just pop the sucker in there. Any thoughts?

anon65399
Post 124

I want to use an external hard disk to install some important software. But i want to know whether the installed software in the external hard disk will appear or not appear in add or remove programs of control panel. If appears - how to make it, not to appear the software installed on add or remove programs.

masamaren
Post 123

Can I use an external hard drive on multiple computers? I want to do our finances on one, but I need to use on laptop and desktop. We travel and I would like to be able to work on laptop away and on desktop at home.

anon63256
Post 121

Once photos and videos have been backed up onto external hard drive, and new ones need to be added, it seems that if you backup again, everything backs up a second time and fills up the external hard drive rather that just adding the new files. What am I doing wrong?

anon61698
Post 120

I have installed photoshop cs4 on my external hard drive and it opens and works. but its working really slowly! Is it because it's on the external?

anon59539
Post 119

Can I still use files on my computer while they are on the external hard drive plugged into the computer or would I have to import them back to the internal hard drive? e.g: If I had a DVD on the external hard drive and the hard drive was plugged into my computer could I still play it on my computer?

anon58810
Post 118

DO you have to run the external hard drive separately or can you open files/folders/programs/etc. that are on your external while using your internal? Someone told me you can only utilize one or the other at a time.

anon58326
Post 117

Where can I find instructions on how to use an external hard drive?

anon57952
Post 116

I want to transfer all my dvd's to my external hard drive, and play them back later with a media player. How do i transfer dvd's to my hard drive? Do you transfer it as an iso file? What is the best way to do this?

anon57806
Post 115

i have a new external hdd. is it important to format it before you put data on it?

anon57696
Post 114

For anonymous 52687: iTunes lets you move the entire music library. Look in the "Advanced" section in "Preferences".

Click "Change" and choose your new iTunes data location. Check "Keep iTunes media folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes media folder when adding to the library."

Finally, click "OK" then File --> Library --> Organize library. Click "Consolidate Library" then "OK"

Now, delete the old iTunes folder. (this is easier than it sounds)

anon52687
Post 113

All my music on itunes comes from another folder on my computer. Can I replicate that folder (the source of all my music) into a removable hard drive, delete the original folder on my computer, and still be able to play my songs on itunes when the removable hard drive is plugged in?

anon52331
Post 112

Dallas#1: I was wondering if the hard drive disk inside of the casing has to be a certain type of hdd, or can i just throw an internal into an external casing and expect it to work properly?

anon51434
Post 111

i have a specific question: can i back up an entire copy of my FL9 on a external hard drive with out having to re-install it all over again onto the external hard drive. And do i have to install an operating system on it or can i buy an external hard drive with one already on it?

amypollick
Post 110

anon50669: Yes, if you transfer the data currently on your hard drive to your external hard drive, you can certainly free up quite a bit of space on your internal hard drive.

anon50669
Post 109

Can an external hard drive free up disk space on my computer?

anon50485
Post 108

Hi Kathysimmons, You can easily do this. the only thing that you need to do is just take out the hard drive of your computer and attach it to another one. Although it will take a few efforts, but undoubtedly you can find out all the data stored on it.

anon49307
Post 107

Can I run Skype from an external Hard drive on my mac? I'm in Dubai and need to reformat (remove XP currently on bootcamp) If I drag Skype to the external drive, will it still run on OX10. 5.5?

Kathysimmons
Post 106

my PC will not allow me to connect a monitor so I can view my files on my desktop. It was recommended I remove my C:drive and put it in another computer. is this possible to do, and will I be able to view my files on my desktop?

anon48965
Post 105

can you swap out a C:drive?

anon48188
Post 104

I have suddenly lost all of my files off my external hard drive. How did that happen? I have not done anything out of the ordinary with my computer. How can I get my files back?

anon47484
Post 102

can i insert an external hard disc whose size is more than that of the internal hard disc of my PC? will my PC crash in this situation?

mandmboys1
Post 100

Can I delete the itunes file from my C drive after installing into my external drive? Will I lose the file?

anon41863
Post 99

Here is my scenario. I have a 1TB internal hard drive that is not currently partitioned. I want to partition it without losing any data. If I were to copy all system files, the operating system, registry, and all software on the hard drive onto an external hard drive. Then reformat and partition my internal hard drive. Can I then transfer all the data from the external to the internal hard drive without having to re-install the operating system, software, and so on?

anon41523
Post 98

Will I free up my hard drive by putting my photos on my external hard drive? And how can I get to my photos when I need them?

anon41177
Post 97

All right, for the dude that said he cannot delete his files on the external because it shows to be "corrupted" -- All you need to do is reformat the hardrive, then delete the files.

anon41144
Post 96

How can I get my stuff (data) off a hard drive (think pad)? the screen went blank and then the fan stopped working. Is the hard drive smoked?

anon38261
Post 94

I just installed a 250gb passport on my pc. I have synced all my music to the passport. I then tried to burn a cd using Nero from my passport, but the files are not coming up. did I do something wrong or does it work like that? Do I have to copy files back to my pc in order to be able to burn them or should I be able to access them directly from the passport?

anon37105
Post 93

Can an external hard drive, with a duplicate operating system, be used to operate the computer when its internal hard drive breaks down?

anon35872
Post 92

you can too install *any* operating system onto an external hard drive. all you need is the CD. You can copy certain programs from your regular hard drive onto an external. it just depends on what they are. Some are connected to your directory files and cannot be copied, but others can. The *best* external HD is Western Digital. They are reliable, plug and play and easy to use. They do not have to be formatted before use and my new one holds 750 GB for $90, shipped!

anon34771
Post 91

Is it better if i install games into my external hard drive rather than my main hard drive?

jbhaka
Post 90

How do I put more than one Movie on an external hard drive and play them back?

gabe
Post 88

I have removed the ATA hard drive from my old computer and fitted it to a usb cable which is sold for the purpose of connecting as an external hard drive. My new computer recognises the USB hard drive connection but does not show the external hard drive within the list of 'Hard disk drives' or 'Devices with removable storage'.

Therefore I cannot open the external hard drive. Is this because the external hard disk drive still has the Windows XP operating system installed on it?

bossladyjane
Post 87

Can anyone help me? Can I transfer the whole sims and Expansion packs that are my daughters onto an external hard drive to free up space?

br2329
Post 84

I bought a new HP with Vista. I also purchased an external hard-drive to avoid using up space in my new computer. I download pictures and save them to my external hard drive. I have created shortcuts on my computer desktop. I frequently need to search for pictures that have been renamed and saved in the hard drive. I am not able to use the search feature in the folder when searching for my pictures. Is that normal or do I need to do something different to be able to search in the shortcut folder?

If I save the pictures in a folder on my desktop the search feature works fine, but I need to be able to save those pictures to my hard drive and find them later. Please help.

anon28332
Post 83

Hey, I am considering buying an external hard drive to use for the Sims. I installed it on my last computer, but it didn't have enough memory and kept crashing. I was reading some of the comments and now am concerned about whether it will work because some people have said that it can't hold software? thanks

anon25870
Post 82

For people asking about easy external hard drives -- I recommend Western Digital's Passport Essential. It's super easy, I just installed it. Plugged it in via USB, clicked My Computer and boom! There it is. It also comes with some syncing program that you can install (included automatically on the Passport drive) but I prefer dragging and dropping, so I just deleted that program without installing. Anyway, that's my two cents!!

Sully45
Post 81

Hi there: I have an HP external hard drive into which I have a bit torrent client installed. I've also changed the directory so that ALL media is downloaded into the external hard drive.

I have two computers and wanted to take advantage of the portable nature of the external drive however the movies that I've downloaded from one computer (complete and still downloading) aren't showing up in my bit torent client when I attach the external drive to my other computer. I've uninstalled each client from both computers and reinstalled again into the portable hard drive with no success. The files are in the external drive (visible when attached to both computers) but the client doesn't show the same activity when the drive is plugged into each computer which in my mind it should be downloading and seeding the same items no matter what computer it is plugged into because both should be accessing the same client in the external drive. Can someone help explain what I am doing wrong?

grashopr1
Post 80

I started out w/120 GB of hard drive now I have only 11 GB left , can I move all of my games to an external hard drive, to free up space on my regular hard drive. If this can be done would my computer speed up any?

minutes
Post 77

I recently found out that an external hard drive is only for storage and not for you to install software once you try to download the information onto the system it will be on the main hard drive, from the word external hard drive you automatically assume that it is like your main system but it only for storage down loading software would still need to be downloaded as part of your main system so in other words you can not install window xp on a external hard drive and you can not downgrade from vista to XP unless you format or know a lot about the BIOS and other configurations on your system. I know I am rambling on but you get the point.

btorre
Post 76

What would you say is the most user friendly

and good quality external hard drive for someone

not that technically inclined. I'm worried I

won't understand how to install it. Thanx

pcgurl313
Post 75

Hey everyone, I read through just about everyone's questions. I want to get an external drive for my Acer Aspire 3680 Notebook. The hard drive is 80gb and the memory is 512mb, I think. I have mainly pictures, music, and videos. Programs I have are Limewire, Itunes, Microsoft Office Software, << those are the programs that take up the most space. Can I transfer these programs to the external drive? And how does external hard drives work exactly? Are they like USB sticks? Can anyone help me please? I'm a senior and I need my computer to do online classes and I take college classes, I really need this.

minutes
Post 74

I want to buy an external hard drive for my laptop it is running Vista but I need to run XP for my company can I install xp to run on this hard drive as if it was a separate computer without it looking like a dual boot system...

anon19779
Post 73

I've read many posts that seem to have a similar question as mine, but was unable to get the answer I was looking for. Our computer running XP broke, but hard drive is good. We now have a new computer running Vista and are planning on running the old hard drive as an external drive. I tried installing a couple of the programs I used on the XP computer, but the programs are not compatible with Vista. Can the programs be run somehow from the old drive we will be making an external drive by somehow putting XP on that drive, or will we need to purchase the Vista version of these programs?

rach
Post 72

Hi there, I was wondering if I can have skype and itunes on my external hard drive and if so how I do it. Or are they just used for storing folders. Also the icon for my ehd on the desktop has a question mark. Do you know why? It wont allow me to use this shortcut I have to get to it via my computer. I have tried unplugging it and plugging it back in but it still doesnt see it. Thank you

Otherwise
Post 71

Is there any reason I shouldn't use an old laptop as an external hard drive? I'm not using it for anything else; it has no internet connection or wireless card. Do I need anything besides an interface cable?

b1vd32
Post 70

My computer crashed and the internal hardrive is still good and I want to remove the files to another computer and / or an external hard drive. I have a box that allows the transfer, but the computers don't recognize it. Any suggestions?

anon17841
Post 69

hi i was wondering what the maximum storage capacity, and minimum are....okay see ya.

Jak
Post 68

somebody please help! i figured out most of what i need to know to work this, but i want to know how to get the full program, not the shortcut (i want the .exe), on my external hard drive.

for example, i tried reinstalling msn explorer then i fixed internet options so it downloaded it onto drive F, and it downloaded the setup there, except when it installed it went onto my desktop on drive C. how do i fix this?

Jak
Post 67

Also, is there a way to transfer Java from my internal drive to my external? Its over 100MB which would really help.. (my regular drive is only 9GB)

Jak
Post 66

I bought an 80GB hard drive about 6 months ago, as my computer was running out of space. I just now tried it, but can't figure out what to do. To put something on, do I have to install it?

This WD sync program that came with it isn't too clear... If I deleted some programs then installed them again could I install them on the external hard (Drive F). it seems that once the programs are on the external that I have to delete them off my internal, but I tried it with a blank folder and it came off of the external drive. Can somebody help me please?

anon17009
Post 65

i have an external hard drive and it has stuff on it and when i connect the drive to my pc it says that it has to be formatted. i think i have a serious problem. i think i have lost all of my info that was on it please some one help me.

ampar00
Post 64

my daughter wants an external hard drive for her dell laptop -- not to hold a small amount but not excessive either. I have no idea how these work, and need to know what is a moderate amount, and if any can be plugged into this laptop. Any help would be appreciated!

anon14200
Post 63

I am looking to buy a external hard drive and i have noticed that some vendors advertise the RPM that the drive operates on, what difference does this makes? does it affect the performance like when transferring the files from the computer to the external hard drive?

anon14108
Post 62

Just bought a new external hard drive and have a very basic question. What is the best method for transferring files to the external drive? I'd like to back-up all my pictures and probably my programs as well. Should I copy the entire C drive and paste it to the external hard drive? Or will that run the risk of the hard drive crashing or corrupting as that will be a large amount of data? Is it better to transfer files in smaller chunks?

anon13335
Post 61

can i use my external hard drive as the main hard drive, and use operating system from it???

shubie66
Post 60

I have read your discussion board and there were 2 questions that caught my attention: Passion4SIMS and anon8444, they both asked about games being put onto a external hard drive. I have a Maxtor and I have downloaded all my Sims2 games including the expansion packs for a total of 6 or 7 games in all and when I use the latest game which is sims2 seasons, which I have to use to play the game, it tells me that I need to install the sims2 first, which is already on there. I hope I really didnt waste my money on the external hard drive, I bought it so I could play my games and keep the space free on my pc. I also transferred all the files onto my computer and they are in the programs file in the download file, but when I go into my 'add or remove programs" in the control panel, they are not there??? This is very frustrating.

anon10637
Post 59

technically computers do not require a hard drive. Flash based systems are becoming more popular with the eeePC and computers can often boot with just a LiveCD.

As for the people above asking about programs from an external hard drive I have found that typically any program can be installed on an external however it does not make that application portable. What this means is you can change the install location to an external drive with minimal loss of speed (if any) but unless the program leaves no fingerprints (registry changes and the like) the program may only work on the PC the external was plugged into when the install occurred. This can add much needed space where it is needed but may not allow you to bring your applications with you to different PCs.

Many applications can be reworked to run in a way that leaves few to no fingerprints, allowing them to be run in a portable mode. A quick visit to google can find many options. A personal favorite of mine is the PortableApps site which has everything from an office suite (OpenOffice Portable), internet tools (the Mozilla products), and basic utilities (Zip archiving, PDF viewers, and password storage). They even have a portable virus scan (ClamWin I believe) against what the person above said about it not being possible. Google is our friend, a quick search and you can practically carry your entire PC with you on your external if you get used to thinking of tools in a different way.

Foshizzy03
Post 58

I have a storage vantec External Harddrive, and i have a lot of space used, it has the capacity for 300 GB's and i've filled 222, i recently went back to it to delete a few files I've had on there quite a while, most music and videos, and a lot of which, mostly old video files won't delete at all, a keep getting a popup that says

Cannot Delete ___: the file or file directory is corrupted

sometimes it just says error

and there's a third one that is pretty frequent to but i dont remember what it is. I've looked around quite a bit, nobody can help me, or even knows whats going on, i found this one thing called MoveOnBoot, but that didnt work either because my computer freezes if i leave the hard drive on during startup until i turn it off.

anon10212
Post 57

Hey everyone....A lot of people are asking about if they can install programs onto an external hardrive. I think my method is possible:

-uninstall the program on your computer

-reinstall it onto the external drive

-when reinstalling it on to the external drive, make the install point on your external drive rather than the program files on your actual hardrive.

After this, you should be able to run it. People are having problems because they cannot run the program after copying the files/folders....That is because you have _not_ actually installed the program on the external hard drive hence why it might not work....

mas
Post 56

Hi

I bought a Mac Book in January and i want to know how i would go about switching my ITunes Library from my old dell laptop to the new one, is this something i need to take to the Apple store to do or can i do the switch myself if i get the proper tools

anon9714
Post 55

My computer at work is outfitted with MS Office 200 and it is very outdated. We're on a large network and would prefer to not have to go through our IT people to get a newer version of Office. Could we install the newer office version on an external hard drive and work off of that? Would we need to install an operating system onto the external hard drive for it to work?

realgeek
Post 54

I have plenty of memory on my computer (9GB used out of 75GB) and want an external hard drive only to back up the whole computer, including all programs. I'd like to re-establish everything onto a new internal hard drive, easily from the external drive. Can I do this?

anon9022
Post 53

my computer is running at 86% capacity which makes it very very slow. will an external hard drive help alleviate this problem? can i take files from my computer and put them on the external hard drive to free up space so it will run quicker or is this a separate issue? thank you.

anon8801
Post 52

Can I use a second laptop as an external hard drive? If so, what's the best way to connect it?

anon8791
Post 51

So my main hard drive is 37.2g, and I have the other one (my music-drive) which is 13.9. My dilemma is that I would like to upgrade to an 80g ipod from a 4g Zen V Plus. And from what I'm told, my computer would explode if I plugged in 80g's worth of ipod. Would an external be the best remedy, or do I need ~80g's of internal drive for it to work?

anon8444
Post 50

Can you install games into the external hard drive and bring them to other computers to play there but not take up any memory in the computer you inserted in, because I have big programs (Like the Sims 2).

anon8139
Post 49

what are the risks of running an external harddrive at over 90% full?

anon8114
Post 48

No, most anti-virus installs normally then installs into the registry itself for that specific computer. It would just be better to put the installation program of the anti-virus on the usb stick, then install it on the computer you choose to use it on. Try something small like nod32. Best effective anti-virus with the least amount of memory usage in my opinion.

anon8071
Post 47

Is it possible to install anti virus program to usb stick? Can it run itself whenever you plug this in any computer and protect this drive from incoming virus?

anon8043
Post 46

i think it would work, but i think it would be better to just unplug it every now and then.

anon7956
Post 45

I require to keep my external hard drive on for about three weeks straight. I've heard of externals overheating which causes death, or a loss of data. On top of it being just on for three weeks, it's going to be under 20 percent load constant, 24/7. There is no fan that I know of in the hard drive. Would an external laptop cooling fan prove to be effective?

anon7339
Post 44

I understand that the USB port on some PC's may not have enough power to run a given external drive. In that case you need some additional piece of hardware. Is there anyway to tell before you buy if your PC's USB port has enough power for an external hard drive?

anon7229
Post 43

Can i use my external hard drive to play games?

i mean like I have a compaq presario 1200 laptop which kinda doesn't have that much disk capacity. If I will play like an online game which will take at least 3 gigabytes.... can I just install it on my external hard drive? or the question should be like

"will the external hard drive work the same as a internal hard drive regarding playing games and programs?"

lelasmommy
Post 42

My internal hard drive crashed the other day- I'd like to know if I can run ONLY an external hard drive instead of getting a new internal one. How would I go about booting from the USB port?

anon6915
Post 41

please tell me, is an external portable hard drive basically a very large memory stick?

anon6555
Post 40

I have a 500gb External Hard Drive - can I run programs from it? Can I play games from it?

Thanks in advance for your advice!

anon6543
Post 39

An external hard drive is extremely useful.

Yes you can play most games from the external drive; I do (did), and it worked fine.

Though you may be better off not doing that.

anon6504
Post 38

My computer has become very slow and I believe it's because my hard drive is almost full. I have about 10GB left of free space out of 33GB. Would an external hard drive be a good temporary solution until i get a new one?

anon6365
Post 37

We purchased an external hard drive because our C: drive on the laptop was running out of memory. We moved palm to the external hard drive and now we cannot access the data. We thought that installing the external hard drive would free up space. It did not. Do we need to reinstall the programs software on the external drive instead of moving them. Thanks for your assistance

anon6067
Post 36

I own a 250GB Fantom external USB HDD. Would it be safe to open the external drive, take the disk out, and put it in an eSATA external enclosure?

zborus
Post 35

I just bought a big external hard drive, and I have both XP and Mac OS X (1.5) computers that I'd like to back up to that one drive... Is this possible? I am migrating more towards the Mac, but I don't want to lose my old data from XP, and my wife is still using a different XP laptop for work, which she'd also like to backup. Any ideas? Do I need to make a windows partition and a Mac partition? It's a 500gb Maxtor Onetouch 4, if that makes any difference. Thanks!

Zach

itzme
Post 34

Yes, I would like to know the same information about installing Photoshop on an external hard drive and running it through my laptop. Can this be done?

cuica2
Post 33

I have a HD and I have my pictures on it. how do I burn them onto a CD?

I do not have i photo on the HD, only the photos. any thoughts?

thanks

mcauliffe05
Post 32

I love working on pictures. I am hoping to copy photoshop and all my pics to the 500gB external drive. Then, I want to work on my laptop running photoshop from the external -- should this work? will it be slow? what determines the speed? my laptop processor??

jagtx
Post 31

What is the best way to transfer files between my computer at home and the one at my office? At the moment, I use one of those USB flashdrive sticks to store information on from the office. Every week or so, I do a search on it for that week for files that have been modified and then move them to the computer at home. I do the same with the computer at home, doing a search and transferring the files to the flash drive. This gets to be time consuming. Is there a better way to do this?

anon3922
Post 30

Device Manager on Windows XP recognizes my new external hard drive ("working properly"), yet I can't partition or format it. It doesn't even pop up on windows explorer. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Dayton
Post 29

What you described is completely possible--you just have to tell iTunes to save the file on your external--as long as it's connected, it should be easy. I'm not familiar with iTunes, however, so I can't give you more advice than that...

good luck!

anon3902
Post 28

I want to buy a movie from I TUNES, but I don't have the room for it on my hard drive. I have plenty of room for it on my external hard drive though. Is it possible to buy the movie and have it download to the external and then burn it onto a dvd from the external?

anon3885
Post 27

Can I save movies/episodes from utorrent onto an external hard-drive? And can I transfer those movies/episodes from the external hard-drive to be put onto Sony Vegas 7 for editing and such?

Sorry if my questions aren't clear enough.

anon3839
Post 25

I have allowed my DVR to reformat my Seagate external Hard Drive. Now my computer does not recognize the Seagate drive when I hook it up via the USB port on my computer. Is there a way to access my seagate external drive via my computer? If not because it has been formated by the DVR, how can I reformat the DVR so my computer can recognize the Hard Drive?

anon3631
Post 24

I'm sorry but I still need clarification about external hard drives. An external hard drive is not an extension of the internal? It is completely separate and my memory will not be automatically moved to/shared with the external? I will literally have to move the files I want to move onto the external disk? New files will automatically be saved internally and I will have to move them to the external? If I move picture files, will new ones automatically go to the external next time? I am trying to decide if I need a new computer or if an external hard drive will suffice. The system is about five - six years old. I feel a crash coming on and am not sure what to do. Thank you in advance for any help.

Passion4SIMS
Post 23

I was speaking with Elisabethb9 from TheSims2 and she was helping me install my Sims unto my external hard drive. I did like you said and re-installed everything onto the external but when I opened the game it let me know that all of my EPs except Seasons had been uninstalled and if I continued my families in college will be aged to adult and all other families will be moved to the family bin...So of course I exited but I spent ALL day installing all of the games and they are listed on in my ext. hd so whats wrong?

anon3447
Post 22

ok what i wanted to know is if i get an external hard drive that runs threw the usb port, and i install my new game (vanguard saga of heroes MMO) on it, can i still run it normally? cause i have just recently moved to 1.5 gigs of ram and a new video card the only issue i have is knowing if an online game can be run from an external hard drive or not....?

Tao
Post 21

Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it. TAO

sissy
Post 20

Sorry, I should have asked "how can you tell if your external hard drive needs to be 'formatted"? What exactly does 'formatting' do? (I'm not too smart about this subject).

danewb
Post 19

@ Sissy: No, not all hard drives need to be formatted.

@Tao: From what I understand, you want to move all of your photos and a certain program to the external hard drive. Moving the photos is as easy as copying/cutting and pasting them to the external hard drive. Most drives come with software, though. This makes the process automated. You should also be able to move the program over. A small minority of programs can only be installed on the C: drive, so it might not be possible.

sissy
Post 18

Do all hard drives have to be formatted?

Tao
Post 17

Hi, I am expecting my New LaCie 160 GB USB 2 Mobile Hard Drive Design by F.A. Porsche.....and as usual I am a little worried and the set up....But what I would really like to know is after setup is completed will I be able to install my Microsoft Digital Image Pro 10 Program with the Library and work with my photos as I do now with my computer.....I really sound stupid but I am not clear how this external hard drive works......I need to transfer my photos to the external drive since I have many! If I can't install the program from Microsoft and when I do transfer them to the external drive where do they go.....I hope you understand what I am trying to say!

anon3052
Post 16

why won't my internet explorer work when my external drive is off? I noticed the "My Settings" folder is on the external drive but it can't be deleted. Can it be moved? how?

danewb
Post 15

How well would a new PC game (Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Beta or F.E.A.R.) run on an external ESATA hard drive? Would it run quickly? I don't mind longer load times but if the action slows down in the middle of playing I would get very annoyed.

anon2799
Post 14

You can run programs from a External Hard Drive. When you install a program it will ask you what directory you want to install it in. Normally the directory would be something like C:\program files\, you would change that directory to your external hard drive, probably E:\ or F:\. (You could find out the name of your drive from My Computer)

After you install the program, as long as your external hard drive is on and attached, it should run normally (it might run slower). If it does not run normally, then you will have to look through the files installed on your external hard drive for the .exe file that will launch your program.

It is fine to install programs and still use the hard drive for other tasks.

You can easily move all your photos and music to the new hard drive and delete the originals from your pc. You will still be able to do all the things you could before with them.

Using an external hard drive with itunes is a bit more complicated but still realatively easy. In itunes go to options, or preferences (depending on your version) if you look around in there you will find the place it stores your files. (Usually my music/itunes) You could change this to the new hard drive. Then you could go to the advanced tool bar and select consolidate my library. This will copy all of your itunes files from your computer to the hard drive. Now while you have your hard drive connected and turned on itunes will get your media files from it. BUT if the hard drive isn't on itunes will run the files from your computer. So delete the files that are taking up so much space on your internal hard drive and only run them off of the external one. This is what I am currently doing with my itunes, my bunch of songs where taking up all my valuable hard drive space on my laptop.

First of all I don't know why you would want to go backward from vista to xp. With the two different versions you will still be able to share whatever you need between them. Running XP will be difficult because XP usually takes control of all external devices (meaning the hard drive it is on) I don't know what will happen when it does this, but errors will occur. If you look up some information about live linux that can show you some other options (although you would have to find a way to do what they are doing, but with XP). This article will help you, if you look up life hacker . c o m and run xp inside vista virtual pc. There is a tool called BartPE with is a slimmed down version of XP that you can run off a flash disk, so you should be able to run this off a hard disk.

I don't know what happened when you tried to backup your data. First thing you do, whenever you have a problem is shutdown the pc, not just sleep, full shutdown. Turn off your surge protector so the pc isn't getting any power. Turn off the hard disk too. Now restart and see if your problem is fixed. If this doesn't work, you could try formating the disk. I don't want to go into this here, because somebody will misread my post and erase there whole computer and be pissed at me. But if you look it up you can find tons of info on it.

Hope this answers all of your questions.

sissy
Post 13

I have an 80GB external hard drive. After I plugged it in, I copied My Music, My Pictures, Family Tree Maker to it. Then, I decided to insert the disk and attempted to use the backup feature. I canceled in the process of loading, because it indicated that it would take 20 hours to backup what I had chosen. After that, my computer ran slow. I attempted to click on the Icon for Iomega, and found that there is no indication of a external hard drive location (previously indicated as drive "G"). Any suggestions as to what I should do. My external drive is plugged in and the blue light is on.

anon2433
Post 11

Can I hook up an external hard drive to a surveillance DVR system and then transfer the images to my desktop or laptop so that I can burn disks from there? What components do I need to look for on the DVR? Thanks

anon2424
Post 10

Can we store things like iTunes videos on external hard drives and still have iTunes be functional?

Dayton
Post 9

Anonymous,

The short answer is maybe. Computers are usually configured to be able to boot from a few different sources, such as the CD, the local hard drive, and a network connection. Newer computers are often configured such that you could also choose to boot from your USB drive. If your computer has this capability, then it is very likely that it could be configured to run off of an external hard drive.

Best of Luck!

anon1994
Post 8

can my computer run of just an external hard drive if i install xp on it

Dayton
Post 7

I'm not absolutely positive about this, but I'm fairly certain that your external hard drive will come pre-formatted to be compatible with specific operating systems. As far as I know, you shouldn't need to put an operating system (such as xp) on the hard drive. If it's new, the box will tell you which operating systems are compatible. If not, I'd just try plugging it in to your Vista machine and see what happens--if the computer recognizes the presence of the external, then it will either give you instructions, or it should already be working.

anon1758
Post 6

Can I save windows XP on my external hard drive and run it on my Vista laptop?

anon1711
Post 5

What I would like to know is whether I gain any "memory" space on my PC by moving my vast collection of Photographs onto an external hard drive, and if I can then readily access the photos to be edited, printed etc.

anon1610
Post 4

I was wondering, would you be able to install video games onto an external hard drive? I have a few large games that take up a lot of room and slow down my computer.

anon1590
Post 3

you said one can download programs to the external hard drive. That means you can run programs such as Family Tree for Windows as well as adding/deleting data/photos- its just like running a program on the computer.

Dayton
Post 2

Anonymous,

This can be very simple if the external hard drive is formatted for your correct type of computers. Basically, you can plug in the external hard drive, and simply copy/paste the files you want to move from the local (computer) to the external (plugged-in) file. Then, simply do the reverse to move the files from the external to the second computer.

If you're working with three machines that are not all the same platform (ie, windows to mac), it may be a bit more complicated, but is still possible.

Good Luck!

anon1353
Post 1

Is there a way to download programs to an external harddrive and transfer them to another computer?

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