Q. What's the difference between using a 1 gigabyte USB flash drive and a 1 gigabyte Maxtor external hard drive? The Maxtor is considerably...

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What’s the difference between using a 1 gigabyte USB flash drive and a 1 gigabyte Maxtor external hard drive? The Maxtor is considerably more expensive, so I would go for the flash drive unless I’m missing something. I’m going to use the external drive for editing and storing digital video transferred from my video camera.

— Mario Giordano

External hard drives have a number of advantages over USB flash drives. First, external hard drives can accommodate many gigabytes of data while USB flash drives max out at 1 gigabyte. In fact, if you go the route of an external hard drive, you’d probably want to consider getting something with a little more capacity.

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Another edge is that external hard drives have a higher data-transfer rate than flash drives.

USB Hi-Speed ports support transfer rates in external drives of up to 480 megabits per second — or around 60 megabytes per second. Flash-drive devices don’t come close to that limit. The best hit the wall at about eight to 10 megabytes per second.

A Maxtor external hard drive using a Firewire port will provide an actual transfer rate of about 60 megabytes per second.

The big advantage of the flash drive, of course, is its size. No bigger than your little finger, it is much easier to slip into your pocket than is an external hard drive.

I own a small brokerage firm and am responsible for monitoring communication between my brokers and their clients. As an office, we are on a T-1 and a network.

Is there some way I could capture every outgoing e-mail from everyone regardless of whether they are using Outlook?

I don’t particularly care to monitor Web sites visited. I just need to monitor outgoing e-mails.

— Peter Smith, Seattle

You certainly can monitor both outgoing (and incoming) e-mails. In fact, recent surveys have shown that more than half of companies do exactly that.

I’d suggest you search for monitor e-mail on the Internet. You’ll find a wide array of products. Just which is right for your business depends both on your size and your network configuration.

DigiArch’s MailMonitor, for example, allows you to monitor all incoming and outgoing SMTP and POP sessions. You can find out more about MailMonitor at www.digiarch.org/mailmonitor.html.

If everyone is using Outlook, you might consider SilentMail for Outlook (www.emailaddressmanager.com/monitoring.html).

If your company is running its own mail servers, other solutions are available specifically tailored for those servers.

Q. I have Windows XP and I’m using Outlook Express. When I e-mail a document or picture attachment, the recipient receives anywhere from five to 20 of the same e-mails in a row.

I checked for a virus several ways and found none. It just happens when I send an attachment.

— Jerry Bendett

Here’s something to try. In Outlook Express, go to the Tools menu and select Accounts. Next click on the Mail tab and highlight your e-mail account. Click on the Properties button and then on the Advanced tab.

Is the box next to “Break apart messages larger than XX” checked? If it is, Outlook Express is breaking up your attachment and sending it in pieces because it is oversized. This feature is designed for situations where the mail server has a limit on message size.

I just purchased a second hard drive for the primary purpose of backing up my primary C:\ drive. A few weeks ago you mentioned a program that did this — it makes an initial backup and then every night does an incremental backup.

What was the name of that program? I have not been able to find any that do that.

— Gary Noble, Lynnwood

Actually, if you’re using the current version of Windows — Windows XP — a backup utility that is built right in will allow you to schedule unattended backups. For some reason, however, with Windows XP Home Edition, this utility is not installed by default. Instead, you must install the utility manually.

You’ll find it in the ValueAdd folder on the Windows XP Home Edition CD. Once installed, you’ll find the utility by going to the Start Menu, selecting All Programs, then Accessories, System Tools and, finally, Backup.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.