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A mini hard drive is a very small, ultra-portable, platter driven, external storage disk with an integrated USB cable or interface. The mini hard drive fills a niche market where a flash drive in the same capacity would be too expensive, and a standard external drive, too bulky to be considered ultra-portable. A true mini hard drive can easily slip into a pocket without weighing it down, and does not require an AC adapter, drawing on the USB port for power.
Mini hard drive units incorporate shock-mounting designs for maximum durability. Most models come with a minimum one year warranty and are PC and Mac® compatible. Many models are also packaged with or can be augmented with backup software designed to make the process of protecting your data quick and easy. This combination can make the mini hard drive an ideal companion for shuffling back and forth between work and home, or between the home desktop and laptop computers.
With more people switching from desktop computers to laptops, hard disk space is becoming more important. Laptops lack the real estate for RAID arrays or multiple hard drives, and as of spring 2009, most laptop motherboards only support up to a 250 Gigabyte (GB) internal drive. Though this threshold is bound to increase, there are plenty of people who no doubt find themselves shuffling movies or other large files off the laptop to keep the drive from nearing capacity and slowing down.
One nice thing about a mini hard drive is that its diminutive size makes it much less hassle to whip out and use. It won’t take up space on a desktop or floor, and doesn’t require a bulky AC adapter or outlet. When it’s not being used it can be tossed in a drawer, backpack, laptop case, purse or pocket. It’s almost as convenient as a flash drive or memory stick, and with the right backup software, can be even more convenient.
Due to the popularity of the mini hard drive, some manufacturers are marketing 2.5” (6.35cm) drives as mini drives, though these are the same size as standard laptop hard drives, built into external enclosures. A true mini hard drive is smaller, such as the Apricorn Aegis 1.8” (4.57cm) 160GB drive, though the smaller and lighter the drive, the higher the price tag for the same capacity, all else being equal.
Before deciding on a model, determine your main objective for the purchase. If the goal is to offload large files and multimedia content to archive to an external device, the ultra-portable angle isn’t as relevant and you might want to save some money by considering a 2.5” (6.35cm) model. If, on the other hand, you will be using the device on the road, portability becomes more important and spending more to get an extremely small, light unit is likely an investment that you will appreciate every time you use it.