Use this checklist to review what to consider when evaluating external hardware components for your Windows infrastructure.
- Watch the footprint. The size and space required for external hardware components can be a major concern in many environments, especially if the device has to live in a cramped rack in the server room. Make sure that if your hardware isn't rack mountable that it is positioned correctly and fits the way it is supposed to.
- Connectivity issues. While many external devices use USB or FireWire, there are still a handful that require slower connections to serial or com ports. Issues can arise with default cable lengths, limitations on the length of the cable run or proprietary hardware connectors. If your server is near the bottom of the rack, and the cables aren't long enough to place the external hardware component on the only remaining empty shelf, you may have some additional work to do. I try to avoid components with outdated or proprietary connectors whenever possible in order to simplify my options when I need parts.
- Secure your surroundings. If your hardware isn't locked in the server room, you may want to seriously consider the possibility that someone may try to walk away with it someday. In the era of online auctions, external hardware doesn't have to have a practical use at home -- it just has to be able to sell quickly online.
- Check for durability. While internal components live a semi-sheltered life, external hardware components can live in some pretty harsh environments, including manufacturing sites, outdoor kiosks, inside moving vehicles, near electrical fields, onboard aircraft or boats and in cramped wiring closets. Think about where this component is going to live in your environment and what type of abuse it will have to take. Next, consider how much life you expect from the external hardware in this environment and if you think the device will make it.
About the author:
Bernie Klinder is a technology consultant for a number of Fortune 500 companies. He is also the founder and former editor of LabMice.net, a comprehensive resource index for IT professionals who support Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 and BackOffice products. For his contributions to the IT community, Klinder was selected as an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) by Microsoft. Let us know what you think about this tip; email firstname.lastname@example.org.