Hard disks to go. (portable hard disks and time management) (evaluation)
by Daniel Janal
Every night at six o'clock, Tim Berry packs up his files and heads home to eat dinner with his family--and then settles dow to a night of work.
As president of Palo Alto Software and Consulting, Berry gives sales training seminars for high-tech companies and takes the extra time at home to write course materials. Forgetting a file would mean a wasted evening. That hasn't happened since Berry began using a transportable hard disk to shuttle data between home and office.
"This disk is a response to being a unified family," Berry says. "We might be the last family in America that sits down to dinnder at 6:00 p.m. with Mom and Dad and five kids. I have to close shop every day to do this, and I need to have a few more hours to finish work. Those few hours come from this disk."
"This disk" is a removable hard drive from Liberty Systems (160 Saratoga Avenue, Suite 38, Santa Clara, Californa 95051; 408-983-1127). It's another 80MB of storage for Berry's computers and another four hours to his workday. With the $1,000 device, Berry's assured of having every file and font when he needs it.
"Floppy disks have become less practical because work files have become so big," Berry says. So he just unplugs the drive, takes it home, and plugs it into his Mac. Once he calls it a night at home, he copies the revised files back to the portable drive to go back to his office.
Removable hard disks are the wave of the future for office executives who take work home, says Joel Levine, vice president of marketing for SyQuest Technology (47071 Bayside Parkway, Fremont, California 94538; 415-226-4000), which has shipped more than 600,000 of the drives. Yet the idea is hardly new.
When mainframes ruled in the 1960s and 1970s, transportable hard drives were the norm. "Disk drives were designed to be removable," Levine says, "so users would have unlimited storage capabilities as well as total security for their data." with the advent of PCs, however, disk drives became fixed internally.
Iomega (1821 West 4000th S, Roy, Utah 84067; 801-778-1000), another leader in the mass-storage industry, recently introduced the Bernoulli Transportable 90, a 90MB hard drive that can connect to PCs and laptops through a variety of options, including a laptop's parallel printer port. The drive looks like a transportable car radio, weighs 8 1/2 pounds, and retails for $1,149. And it's rugged enough for the mail.
Before copying your corporate program files to a removable hard disk, however, you should check with your MIS director to make sure you aren't violating any copyright laws or licensing agreements that were made between your company and a software vendor.
Only the copyright holder--the software vendor--has the right to make a copy, according to Ken Wasch, executive director of the Software Publishers Association, which wages a vigorous antipiracy campaign. Companies that license from software publishers, however, might have permission to make extra copies. Just be sure you carefully follow the licensing agreements.
Companies who violate the law can find themselves sued for unregistered copies, fined for the practice, and embarassed in the media. The SPA monitors software piracy and helps companies monitor their own software usage with SPAudit, a disk-based software program available free from the SPA (1730 M Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036; 800-388-7478).
Another advantage of the transportable hard disk is that it provides Berry with a complete copy of his computing environment, including program and data files, so he can take the disk with him when he visits clients or holds seminars in far reaches of the world.
"Since I travel a lot, my portable goes with me," Berry says. "It's assurance that I'll have everything I need. You don't want to be in Hong Kong and find out you don't have the right fonts. When I go with my own disk, I have all the fonts and software I need."
That's a good feeling to have when you're computing away from the office.