Stories by Bill O'Brien

Crucial Adrenaline review: SSD cache drive speeds up your PC

If you want to speed up your PC but don't want to deal with a new hybrid hard drive, one way is to simply add an SSD cache drive to your PC. These drives aren't meant to be mass storage devices; instead, they cache your most frequent application operations and thereby improve performance.

The Velocity Solo offers an easy upgrade to SATA 3.0

If you're contemplating the cost of a new Windows-based computer to catch up with SATA 3.0 hard drives, you might be able to get away with just a $49 investment rather than a complete PC overhaul. Apricorn's Velocity Solo upgrade kit gives you access to SATA 3.0 hard drives and SSDs -- all you need is an x1 PCIe 2.0 slot -- and a SATA 3.0 drive, of course. (The Velocity Solo does not work with Macs.)

Western Digital's new drives expand laptop storage to 1TB

Whether you have a Windows- or OS X-based laptop, one glaring flaw in either genre (and in laptops in general) is the capacity of the hard drive. A year ago, it became possible to pump up a desktop computer with a 3TB drive, but your laptop hit a wall at 750GB. And if you are a true media maven, even 750GB could be a bit confining at times for everything you want to store.

Lenovo ThinkStation C20

Lenovo originally designed its compact <a href="http://shop.lenovo.com/us/landing_pages/thinkstation/10/c20-c20x">ThinkStation C20 workstation</a> for financial markets where both the number-crunching power of the system and the amount of space it saves is important. However, the ThinkStation C20, released in June, can also be considered a graphic artist's tool for running sophisticated software that manipulates 3D graphics and renders video, or as a software development platform.

Crucial M4 SSD

Solid-state drives have had their share of ups and downs in the past few years. Although SSDs are definitely faster than their mechanical counterparts, they've yet to live up to the performance their specifications suggest. What's more, they can be at least eight to 10 times as expensive as their mechanical equivalents -- putting them out of range for the lower-end consumer market.

Lenovo ThinkStation C20

Lenovo originally designed its compact ThinkStation C20 workstation for financial markets, where both the number-crunching power of the system and the amount of space it saves are important. However, the ThinkStation C20, released in June, can also be viewed as a graphic artist's tool for running sophisticated software that manipulates 3D graphics and renders video, or as a software development platform.

Comparison: Three NAS devices offer efficient backup for small offices

Network-attached storage (NAS), once only available (and affordable) for enterprises, is becoming more common for small business and even home use. And necessary - if you are looking for secure backups for your data, a single backup disk collecting data once or twice a day is no longer enough.

NAS devices offer big storage on small networks

We are collecting and keeping more information today than ever before. Whether it's video, pictures, music, or just plain old gobs of e-mail and text messages, all that information has to be stored and backed up.

Antec's Skeleton PC case

If you've ever been in the middle of a system build or component installation and thought to yourself, "I wish I could reach through the case but there's a panel in the way," then Antec may have a solution for you with its new -- and very unconventional -- Skeleton enclosure.

A terabyte in the palm of your hand: Buffalo's LinkStation Mini

Size doesn't matter, or so the old adage goes. Yet obviously it does matter -- or else we wouldn't have both towering desktop PCs and petite portable netbooks. But how about something like a network-attached storage (NAS) device, which is basically a box that sits on a shelf or a desk and never travels, never moves -- does size matter there?

Western Digital's home NAS array

While RAID 5 isn't exactly the Holy Grail of desktop NAS, it is a very attractive option that combines the speed of striped RAID 0 and sufficient data protection without a humongous loss of storage capacity (as with RAID 1) in the trade. That's what makes Western Digital's ShareSpace NAS array an attractive option. Still you'll need to dig a little deeper to ferret out all that makes up ShareSpace and whether or not it's right for you.

New Intel 80GB SSD is faster than the best HDD

Solid state drives (SSDs) are finally coming into their own -- they're faster, more durable, and use less power than traditional mechanical hard drives. However, the strongest indicator that this may be the storage tech of the future is Intel's release of its X18 and X25 solid state drives.

Apricorn 160GB Aegis Mini hard drive

How much would you pay for a portable hard drive that lets you tote around 160GB in a shirt pocket -- with no need for a power brick? Apricorn is betting you'll be willing to spring for upward of US$260 for its 160GB Aegis Mini. However, it remains to be seen how many are willing to pay that price for portability.

Calling all COBOLers

There you are, sipping your latte while banging out code in Django, Drupal, and Ruby, and feeling pretty cutting-edge. Sure, those are the hot skills of the moment, and they'll probably help you land your next job. But take a minute to think about the guys who came before you and the tools, particularly COBOL, they used. And give 'em some respect. They deserve it.

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