I've recently found an almost ideal line of external hard drives with the Western Digital "My Book" series. I purchased the 250 GB model and discovered several great features:
- It's very quiet and runs cool
- The case is decent looking and unobtrusive
- Most importantly, the drive spins down after a period of inactivity (unlike most of the other external drives I've seen)
The only, slight drawbacks are that the drive automatically turns on & spins up whenever the attached PC boots (vs. defaulting to "off" unless you press the power button), and that the disk is formatted with the FAT32 filesystem. The filesystem issue isn't necessarily bad - just depends on what sort of OS your PC runs. Folks who run WinXP exclusively (I'm sorry) may want to reformat the drive as NTFS, and MacOS users will probably want to change it to HFS+. But FAT32 isn't bad. All modern OSes can read/write to it. The only drawback is that a single file can't be larger than 4GB on a FAT32 filesystem.
Anyway - good piece of kit. Recommended.