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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Consumer Hardware & Components > whats a good, reliable external HD to get?

whats a good, reliable external HD to get?
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nycdunz
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Mar 29, 2007, 12:54 AM
 
I'm on the move a lot between home and work and need a portable solution for a HD, what do you guys think is good, i am looking for something between 250GB-500GB. Do you recommend FW400/800 or USB 2.0? I want a fast drive that is dependable, I will be storing all my valuable work on there. But there are so many out there that I'm kind of stuck on which to get.

Looking forward to everyone's advice on here... thanks!
     
nycdunz  (op)
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Mar 29, 2007, 02:34 PM
 
i was thinking about this one.... what do you guys think of this?

Western Digital - My Book Premium 320GB External Hard Drive - WDG1C3200N
     
Ray
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Mar 29, 2007, 04:38 PM
 
Western digital is the way to go. I have a 120 gig external drive andI am completly satisfied.
     
mfbernstein
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Mar 29, 2007, 05:45 PM
 
Definitely go with FW800 or even FW400 over USB for better speed.
     
art_director
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Apr 13, 2007, 10:36 AM
 
I'm partial to the G-Tech G-Raid series of external drives. Currently I have three -- one 800GB, one 500GB and a mini 100GB. All three work perfectly.

The G-Tech products are more expensive but, imho, worth every penny. Having gone the budget drive route in the past -- and been burned twice with crap drives -- I steer clear of inexpensive enclosures / drives.
     
voicebox
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Apr 13, 2007, 01:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by nycdunz View Post
I'm on the move a lot between home and work and need a portable solution for a HD, what do you guys think is good, i am looking for something between 250GB-500GB. Do you recommend FW400/800 or USB 2.0? I want a fast drive that is dependable, I will be storing all my valuable work on there. But there are so many out there that I'm kind of stuck on which to get.

Looking forward to everyone's advice on here... thanks!
Hi nycdunz,
Like mfbernstein I recommend a FW400/800 over USB 2.0 HD mainly because you will be able to boot your laptop/desktop from it - you will not be able to boot from a USB 2.0 HD.
I have always used LaCie HD's (the 300GB d2 Extreme 7200rpm FW800/400 with USB 2 is excellent) with no problems whatsoever, although Western Digital seem to have a pretty good reputaion as well.
Hope this helps.
     
mduell
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Apr 13, 2007, 01:12 PM
 
I saw build your own. Take a Seagate drive (with an unmatched 5 year warranty) and put it in a reliable enclosure that you like the look of. Assembly takes a screwdriver and about 5 minutes.

Drives: 250GB for $70, 320GB for $90, 400GB for $120, 500GB for $145
I'd suggest going bigger rather than smaller, because you'll always need more storage in the future, and at the low-end you're paying almost as much for the enclosure as for the drive.

FW400+USB Enclosures:
$50

$40

$50

$50

$28

Or if you want FW800:
$65

Originally Posted by art_director View Post
I'm partial to the G-Tech G-Raid series of external drives. Currently I have three -- one 800GB, one 500GB and a mini 100GB. All three work perfectly.

The G-Tech products are more expensive but, imho, worth every penny. Having gone the budget drive route in the past -- and been burned twice with crap drives -- I steer clear of inexpensive enclosures / drives.
The problem with G-Tech G-Raid drives is that you've more than doubled the chance of complete data loss without any real benefit (either performance or capacity options).
Their warranty is also 3 years shorter than the standard warranty on a Seagate drive (and 1 year shorter than most other internal hard drive brands); that doesn't speak well for their confidence in the product.

Originally Posted by voicebox View Post
Hi nycdunz,
Like mfbernstein I recommend a FW400/800 over USB 2.0 HD mainly because you will be able to boot your laptop/desktop from it - you will not be able to boot from a USB 2.0 HD.
Did nycdunz mention what system he has? Intel Macs boot off USB just fine.

But I'd still recommend going with a FW/USB drive since the OS X USB drivers are so slow.
     
art_director
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Apr 13, 2007, 01:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
The problem with G-Tech G-Raid drives is that you've more than doubled the chance of complete data loss without any real benefit (either performance or capacity options).
Please explain.



Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Their warranty is also 3 years shorter than the standard warranty on a Seagate drive (and 1 year shorter than most other internal hard drive brands); that doesn't speak well for their confidence in the product.
My oldest G-Tech drive is nearly four years old. Never had a problem with it. On the other hand, of my budget external drives, two have crapped out.

To your point, going a'la carte can be a good approach. That said, some of the enclosures on the market are sub-par. I like the comfort I get with my G-Tech drives. They continue to serve me well and, IMO, that's worth every penny.
     
art_director
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Apr 13, 2007, 01:42 PM
 
Since we're talking hard drives: Massive Google hard drive survey turns up very interesting things - Engadget

In my experience, LaCie external drives are slow to respond in larger capacities. On the other hand when 250GB and under they're quick. I've seen this with many drives I've taken in from clients and photographers / studios. These experiences caused me to shy away from LaCies products.
     
mduell
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Apr 13, 2007, 02:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by art_director View Post
Please explain.
With two drives in RAID0, you're alternating between writing data (usually in ~64kb blocks) to the two drives. If either of the two drives dies, you lose half of every file you have. So with two drives you've doubled the chance of losing half your data, and losing half your data is effectively losing all your data since it's striped.
Also, the controller is now more complex to support RAID, instead of a simple bridge chip. The failure rate of consumer-grade RAID controller chips (mostly corruption issues) in PCI cards and external enclosures is miserable compared to their server counterparts, adding to the chance of losing your data due to corruption.
The capacities you're talking about (500GB, 800GB) are readily available as single drives, and the FW800 (or FW400) bus is pretty well saturated with a single drive.

Originally Posted by art_director View Post
My oldest G-Tech drive is nearly four years old. Never had a problem with it. On the other hand, of my budget external drives, two have crapped out.

To your point, going a'la carte can be a good approach. That said, some of the enclosures on the market are sub-par. I like the comfort I get with my G-Tech drives. They continue to serve me well and, IMO, that's worth every penny.
The plural of anecdote is not data. I've got a few DeathStars still running fine (including the dreaded 75GXP), but I'm not about to recommend them to anyone.
Also, a lot of budget drives and enclosures are crap. But a lot of great enclosures are also pretty cheap. I only recommend/link to enclosures with dozens if not hundreds of very positive reviews.

I used to buy $20 Kingwin SATA enclosures, but eventually the noise/build quality/lack of USB got to me, so now I buy $30 AZIO SATA+USB enclosures and they work great.

That Google drive study (and another one that came out at the same conference) is a great reference for debunking many hard drive myths. It's a shame that neither one was willing to name manufacturers.

And I have less than positive things to say about the price/performance/reliability of LaCie's products.
     
art_director
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Apr 13, 2007, 02:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
With two drives in RAID0, you're alternating between writing data (usually in ~64kb blocks) to the two drives. If either of the two drives dies, you lose half of every file you have. So with two drives you've doubled the chance of losing half your data, and losing half your data is effectively losing all your data since it's striped.
Also, the controller is now more complex to support RAID, instead of a simple bridge chip. The failure rate of consumer-grade RAID controller chips (mostly corruption issues) in PCI cards and external enclosures is miserable compared to their server counterparts, adding to the chance of losing your data due to corruption.
The capacities you're talking about (500GB, 800GB) are readily available as single drives, and the FW800 (or FW400) bus is pretty well saturated with a single drive.
I thought this might be your response. That's what had me scratching my head. The two drives I have, 500GB and 800GB are single drives (I cracked them open -- Western Digital drives, BTW). G-Raid is a marketing name, not a description of what's in the box. Thus the potential for data loss is not what was suggested.






Originally Posted by mduell View Post
The plural of anecdote is not data. I've got a few DeathStars still running fine (including the dreaded 75GXP), but I'm not about to recommend them to anyone.
Also, a lot of budget drives and enclosures are crap. But a lot of great enclosures are also pretty cheap. I only recommend/link to enclosures with dozens if not hundreds of very positive reviews.

I used to buy $20 Kingwin SATA enclosures, but eventually the noise/build quality/lack of USB got to me, so now I buy $30 AZIO SATA+USB enclosures and they work great.

That Google drive study (and another one that came out at the same conference) is a great reference for debunking many hard drive myths. It's a shame that neither one was willing to name manufacturers.

And I have less than positive things to say about the price/performance/reliability of LaCie's products.
I was not suggesting that my experiences are data -=- they're just my experiences. And good ones at that.

I'm w you, I wish Google et al would release their brand stats. Problem is they'd probably be sued for doing so.

No doubt you're right -- there must be good external enclosures out there. I just haven't found 'em and don't have the time to look. It's cheaper for me to just buy off the shefl and go back to making money.
     
mduell
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Apr 13, 2007, 03:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by art_director View Post
I thought this might be your response. That's what had me scratching my head. The two drives I have, 500GB and 800GB are single drives (I cracked them open -- Western Digital drives, BTW). G-Raid is a marketing name, not a description of what's in the box. Thus the potential for data loss is not what was suggested.
It sounds like you took apart the G-DRIVE product rather than the G-RAID. Also, you said you have a 800GB external, which is a capacity that has never been offered as a single drive, so it must be a dual drive unit.
     
art_director
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Apr 13, 2007, 03:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
It sounds like you took apart the G-DRIVE product rather than the G-RAID. Also, you said you have a 800GB external, which is a capacity that has never been offered as a single drive, so it must be a dual drive unit.
Yikes! I thought you were wrong, but it tis I who was mistaken. I have G-RAIDs, not G-Drives. Regardless, I be covered:

The G-RAIDs are used for offsite storage -- I swap them out once a week. Everything else is backed up on my RT5 RAID5. At all times I have at least three copies of my important data. Some friends / colleagues think it's overkill but that data is a profit center for me and I'm compensated to have it on hand. So, in the end, it pays for itself plus some.
     
   
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