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The Technopeasant Reviews Micro-Storage Devices
By
Jeff Pasternack
6/02/02

Not too long ago a few associates asked me to review a data storage technology that they had just seen for the first time. Oddly enough, no matter how much I tried explaining that cardboard boxes had been around for decades, they were still intrigued by the value propositions in having data available in tightly packed, portable devices. As I began analyzing this technology, I decided that I would be better served by upgrading my associates to colleagues, who also asked me to review a data storage technology. This upgrade followed the harrowing trend that comes with all upgrades: it increased the complexity of what was a simple task, discussing cardboard boxes, to reviewing a micro-storage devices capable of storing up to 2 gigabytes of data.

Micro-storage devices come in a range of physical and virtual sizes and shapes. For example, there is a 16mb Expansion card for the Palm Pilot thatís roughly the size of a postage stamp. Simply slide it into the appropriate slot and presto! - storage capacity is doubled. These cards also provide a modicum of security as you can place password protection on the data youíre storing. While great for storing or transferring data to other handheld devices, youíre committed to using your Palm Pilot or PocketPC as the prime conduit for access to the data. The price for micro-storage devices like these starts at $40.
 
Another type of device that has been growing in popularity uses the Universal Serial Bus (USB) plug in your computer. For technopeasants like myself, you might have a digital camera or other device that has a cord with a plug like this on it: As opposed to the tiny cards which are generally used in handheld devices, devices that use USB tend to be a bit larger, but offer a huge amount of storage. For example, JMTekís
USBDrive measures a scant 3.5 inches long and .75 inches wide and holds up to 2gb of data, which would just fit onto three compact disks. NexDisk has a similar unit that also has built-in password protection so that if you should ever lose the device, your data is relatively safe. USB devices like this work well with desktop and laptop computers, are extremely easy to install and are very durable. USB-based micro-storage devices also start at $40, although prices for products with larger memory capability quickly escalate into the several hundred-dollar ranges.

One important concept to keep in mind when making your purchasing decision is security. I believe that password protection at the storage device level is necessary. As not all offer this feature, you may be well served by installing a file encryption program on your computer. Although only suitable for desktops and laptops, PC Guardian's Encryption Plus family of data protection programs offers a wide variety of encryption alternatives that will protect your data, even if you lose the storage device.

All things considered, micro-storage devices are a great way to carry around your data on a key chain. You donít have to worry about protecting a CD or whether or not a Zip disk drive is available. As for the postage-stamp sized cards, as long as you donít stick it to an envelope, youíll probably do just fine.

Jeff Pasternack is the president of Dynamic Consulting Group, a franchise partner of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and author of the TechnoPeasant Review.
If you have questions or comments about this column, please write to him at Jeff@TheDCG.com.