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Best portable 750G hard drive
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Jun 16, 2011, 08:52 PM
 
I have been looking for a reliable, fast and quiet portable hard drive, since I will be traveling for 8 months; either a firewire 800, USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt compatible. I have been reviewing the different options, but since I have very little experience with them, I need some advice based on other's empirical experience. Some years ago I did have a MacBook Pro with a portable HD by Western Digital. And currently for my iMac I have been using their desktop HDs with good success. So far they have been reliable, quiet and easy to format for the Mac. But, when I read user's reviews there are a lot of negative comments about reliability, etc, so I would appreciate some other user's perspective on the portable HD comparisons. In addition, since the new MacBook Pro has a 750 G HD, then I will need to match that for Time Machine. However, since HDs vary in real capacity as opposed to advertised capacity, I am wondering if that will be an issue. Thanks for your input.
     
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Jun 16, 2011, 11:30 PM
 
I'm looking for answers to the same general question, although I'd also take USB 2 recommendations.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
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Jun 17, 2011, 12:53 AM
 
Did you buy the MBP already? If so how is it configured and what will you be doing with it? If not bought yet, what will you be doing with it? So we can discuss what SSD setup might work for you.

IMO hard drives as boot drives are an obsolete approach in general, but hard drives are unequivocally obsolete for battery-driven box boot drives. SSDs rock!
     
Ron K  (op)
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Jun 17, 2011, 03:08 PM
 
Hi Sierra

thanks so much for your input. You obviously work at much higher level than I. I do architectural CAD drawings which take up a lot of memory and RAM. Other than that, I do not use any other particular applications that would require so much output. I have not purchased the laptop as yet, but my tendency is to buy top of the line. However, my funds are not unlimited, and thus I have purchased most of my computers from MacMall for the last 10 years. They seem to have the best prices. I am aware that there is no way to customize the laptop and still retain the sale price, free shipping, etc. Here is the description:

Apple 17" MacBook Pro quad-core Intel Core i7 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM, 750GB Hard Drive, Intel HD Graphics 3000 and AMD Radeon HD 6750M, SuperDrive, Thunderbolt port, Aluminum unibody, Glossy Widescreen Display (MC725LL/A)

Until your reply I never even knew that SSDs existed. But now I have done some research, I do see the pros and cons. But the low storage capacity and the price are two issues that I have. Here is what I read:

There are, however, disadvantages to an SSD over a standard hard drive. Most SSDs have a slower write time than standard drives, although this can vary, depending on the type of flash memory used and number of chips. Standard drives are also relatively less expensive than SSDs, although the price has fallen. The SSD also has a limited life expectancy of erase/write cycles, after which it no longer performs reliably. A hard disk may be able to deliver a good ten years of solid operation.

In addition, I always purchase an extended 3 yr warranty, and thus almost always upgrade my computer after 2 years in order to get a decent price that I can apply to the new model. I have checked the prices of the SSDs and they are significantly higher than traditional HDs. This may be the limiting factor for me. Obviously I am not as sophisticated user as you, and thus may not notice a great difference in performance. Currently I have about 350 Gs of storage on my computer including OS, so in order to even meet my current needs, I could not afford the largest capacity SSD which would cost almost half the price of the new laptop. If you have an insight into purchasing at a reduced cost, then please let me know so I may factor that into my consideration. I am open to all suggestion and do appreciate any and all of your advice, and thanks again for taking the time to write to me.
     
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Jun 17, 2011, 05:41 PM
 
I've personally used these drives for over 5 - 7 years:
LaCie - Rugged Hard Disk - FireWire 800, FireWire 400 & Hi-Speed USB 2.0

These are new and they might be good too:
LaCie - LaCie Rugged Triple USB 3
     
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Jun 17, 2011, 07:08 PM
 
I use only OWC HDs.
Great product, great company, 3 year warranty:

The Mercury Elite mini is quad interface, bus powered:

Bus-Powered Portable OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro mini FireWire 800/400, USB2, eSATA
     
Clinically Insane
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Jun 17, 2011, 07:33 PM
 
That OWC isn't a bad price, I couldn't get much lower even if I built it myself.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
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Jun 17, 2011, 07:34 PM
 
(sorry, didnt see chottys post before I posted)

OWC has some killer portable drives. I love them cause they are bus powered and triple interface (FW 400/800 and USB 2.0 or single USB 3.0 interface)

I have several drives from them and love them all. Great company

OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro Bus-Powered FireWire 800/400, USB 2.0 and 2.5" SATA Portable Hard Drive & SSD Solution
     
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Jun 17, 2011, 08:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by Ron K View Post
Until your reply I never even knew that SSDs existed. But now I have done some research, I do see the pros and cons. But the low storage capacity and the price are two issues that I have. Here is what I read:

There are, however, disadvantages to an SSD over a standard hard drive. Most SSDs have a slower write time than standard drives, although this can vary, depending on the type of flash memory used and number of chips. Standard drives are also relatively less expensive than SSDs, although the price has fallen. The SSD also has a limited life expectancy of erase/write cycles, after which it no longer performs reliably. A hard disk may be able to deliver a good ten years of solid operation.
Utter garbage.
     
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Jun 17, 2011, 08:47 PM
 
Here's the best deal on a 2.5" FW800 enclosure I've been able to find:

Oyen Digital: MiniPro 2.5-inch FireWire 800/400, USB External Hard Drive Enclosure

I've got one of these, housing the original drive that came with my MBP (the laptop's internal drive bay now holds an SSD).

Unlike the OWC, it doesn't have eSATA support, though, so if that's important to you, you may want to spend a little more for the OWC.

If you just want USB 2.0, I have a friend who's got this one and hasn't reported any problems with it. It's really nice looking too, despite being cheap as free.

For USB 3.0, I don't have any direct experience, but there are a lot of enclosures on Newegg that have potentially useful customer reviews.

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Jun 17, 2011, 09:01 PM
 
OWC Sells a very good product but if your doing stuff that is work related that can't be replaced go for a raid array and use it in a-RAID 1 for maximum protection like this one from CalDigit-- CalDigit---VR mini

Great tech support and the best drives I've ever used. Well worth the price.

Good luck
     
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Jun 18, 2011, 06:23 AM
 
Is there a a good Hybrid 7200 rpm 750GB (or more) FW 800 portable available?
     
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Jun 18, 2011, 01:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by PJL500 View Post
Is there a a good Hybrid 7200 rpm 750GB (or more) FW 800 portable available?
You can buy the a drive like a Momentus® XT Solid State Hybrid Drives and put it in a high quality inclosure like this one OWC MEQM0GBKS Mercury Elite-AL Pro mini... in stock at OWC
     
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Jun 19, 2011, 01:53 AM
 
How portable?

Do you mean you don't want a power brick?

I use G-Tech drives and they work well. Of course they are portable - but they include an external power brick. They are slightly larger than small drives, but they don't get hot without using fans.
     
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Jun 19, 2011, 02:02 AM
 
Most 2.5" enclosures don't include a power adapter at all and just rely on the USB or FireWire ports for charging.

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Jun 19, 2011, 06:52 PM
 
Future-proofing would counsel waiting for the Thunderbolt enclosures, but they're totally non-existent? Weren't there enclosures expected by now?

Seeing the eSATA connection on the OWC enclosure reminds me of my disappointment with 2 different eSATA express cards from OWC. I'm not sure the problem was with the cards or with the wiggly loose fit in the 15" MBP. Both cards lost connection on long copies. If I left it alone and untouched on the desk, the copy went fine--but that meant a long time not working on the laptop (firewire 800 works fine on the lap...)

Anybody on the thread using an eSATA expresscard in laptop fashion as opposed to tethered on a desk?
     
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Jun 19, 2011, 07:35 PM
 
I never had a problem with the LaCie eSATA express card, but then I never tried using it on my lap.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Jun 19, 2011, 10:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I never had a problem with the LaCie eSATA express card, but then I never tried using it on my lap.
I've got the early '08 MBP (bought at great discount for the last matte screen when the new models came out). I'm wondering if the expresscard slot in later models was "tighter?" Does the card wiggle side-to-side?
     
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Jun 20, 2011, 05:16 AM
 
I was using it in an early '08 machine too. I don't recall the card wobbling. I don't have it any more, it was a work card and I changed jobs.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Jun 22, 2011, 01:38 AM
 
I endorse using an external hard disk. I have a bevy of virtual machines which reside on a nice little 640GB Western Digital Passport drive with both USB2 and FireWire 800 ports, similar to Amazon.com: Western Digital My Passport Studio 500 GB FireWire 800/400 USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive (Silver): Electronics s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1308717299&sr=1-1 (though mine has a useless e-ink display).

The FireWire 800 interface screams. Virtual machines run near-natively over it, and it has bandwidth sufficient to run more than one VM at once. In fact, running the VMs on an external drive eliminates contention issues that can arise if you run them from your system disk. I use a strip of 2" velcro across the back of my MBP, with a mating piece attached to the drive, to keep it all manageable.

BUT.

The FireWire 800 connector is a horrible design. The least little nudge can cause it to disconnect. I scoured the Internet for the best-quality FireWire cables and could find nothing that performed better than the cable that came with the drive. Annoyingly, cables "click" into place when inserted into the drive, but they hang on through mere friction in the MBP's port. Very insecure-- and a spontaneous disconnect can totally hose the drive, ruining whatever files were open at the time and even necessitating a reformatting of the drive. I even went to the Apple Store and went from Mac to Mac to see if they all had such a mushy, insecure connector. They did.

But, until equivalent drives with Thunderbolt interfaces emerge, it's the best interface we have. Just, be careful.
     
   
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