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by JB Burke

Q. My computer is rather old, and it has only a 40GB hard drive. I needed more space for storing photos, so I added a 250GB external USB hard drive. But it takes forever to transfer files. What can cause that?

A. The age of your computer is probably a factor in the slowness of your USB hard drive transfer rate. My guess is that you have attached the drive to one of your computer’s original USB ports, which is probably USB 1.1, which operates at 12 Mbit/s (million bits per second). Sounds fast, but it’s not when you’re transferring large files, like photos. The newer USB 2.0 transfers at 480 Mbit/s, and that works nicely for transferring large files. You can probably solve the problem by installing a, inexpensive USB 2.0 adapter card in your computer, assuming you have a free slot available. You may need to work with a computer store, or a techie friend, to see if you can upgrade your computer in this way.

You might also look at replacing your computer. New ones will already have USB 2.0 connectors built in. Also, that external 250GB hard drive is an ideal way for you to backup your computer and files. And if you are going to get a new computer, you can backup all your data onto the external USB drive (even slowly – let it run over night). Then attach the drive it to your new computer and copy all the files onto it. Note: that won’t transfer your installed programs – you’ll probably need to reinstall those.

Published: Courier 8/2/09 - Page 5C