Portable hard drives are now very affordable. These are the small USB-powered drives that have become my preferred backup method. They don’t require a power supply, and usually work seamlessly with any PC or Mac.
Today, I purchased a Toshiba Canvio 320 Gb drive for $70 from Best Buy. No special installation software, and the included backup software was simply deleted without any problem.
I mention this last issue because I recently tried some Western Digital My Passport Essential drives. They come with backup software (“WD Smartware”) that can’t be removed. The drives are preconfigured with a partition that operates as a virtual CD drive (with the backup software and disk drivers), and another partition for the removable drive that operates as you would expect.
The “CD drive” automatically installs a program that then runs from the taskbar. To disable this activity, you need to download a special program from the company website, install it, connect the drive, and then reconfigure it to disable the CD drive functionality. Note that the CD drive files remain – they just stay dormant. What were they thinking when they designed this?
Or you can just get the Toshiba drive and save yourself some headaches.