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I have a 500gb external harddrive which I use to play games and watch movies. However, I've noticed that every few minutes, my screen freezes up for like 10 seconds and the external goes crazy.

I need a cheap alternative to my harddrive. Currently, for movies, I load them up on an sd card and watch them from there, but I was wondering if the games will run well from them, as some of them are in excess of 10 gb.

Specifically, I need a cheap external datasource larger than 16gb which won't be affect performance of read intensive applications, preferably in the range of 40c per gig. It must also be portable since I will be carrying it in conjunction with my laptop and harddrive. Storing the applications on my laptop harddrive is not an option as it is filled with work and partitions.


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The freeze probably happens when Windows needs to actually write its data to the disk. Up to that point, data writes are accumulated in memory without any performance penalty. This means that the external disk is slow and the amount of data written by your games is large. Only a faster external disk can improve the situation.

The fastest external disk interface is currently the new USB 3 interface. The SuperSpeed USB 3.0 FAQ explains the concept in detail and lists quite a few disks capable of that interface. You will need a USB 3.0 adapter card or hub.

The next fastest is the eSata interface, which allows an external storage device to operate at speeds rivaling your internal hard disk. See for example this review for Seagate 500GB eSATA External Hard Disk.

For raw speed, one shouldn't forget other factors, like rotation speed (at least 7200 RPM) and buffer size. These are further explained in the Buyers Guide to Disk Drives.

Unfortunately, a fast external hard disk is never cheap.

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What about usb and sd cards? – mechko Jul 26 '10 at 0:04
@mechko: SD cards are very slow. USB disks are normally 5400 RPM, which is probably why you have been having problems with it. You can of course try a "normal" USB 2 disk at 7200 RPM, which is still cheaper than the other alternatives I listed, but it might not be enough for gaming. – harrymc Jul 26 '10 at 5:55
@harrymc I actually had a 160gb hard drive which ran good enough, but since I can't actually use it for both timemachine and gaming, that one's no longer an option. 7200rpm disk it is, then. – mechko Jul 26 '10 at 10:09

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