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External HDD recommendation ?
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Hawkeye_a
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May 21, 2007, 05:32 AM
 
Im in the market for an external harddrive for my Mac...

-id like tripple interface
-fairly good design (i got an iMac Cre Duo)...size matters, smaller the better
-reasonably priced
-500GB would be optimum

Right now its looking like the Western Digital MyBook Pro is the way to go.... what do you guys reckon ?

Cheers
     
CharlesS
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May 21, 2007, 06:06 AM
 
My suggestion: don't buy an external hard drive.

Buy an internal hard drive and an external enclosure, and put them together.

Why is this?

1. You can make sure the actual drive you get (meaning the mechanism itself) is a good one. The ones that come inside the external hard drives are often of the cheaper type. Why should companies put good drives in there, since they usually don't advertise what type of internal drive is inside anyway, so it wouldn't help their sales at all?

2. You get the full warranty on the actual hard drive. A hard drive from Seagate, for example, gets you a 5-year warranty, and if you buy the enclosure from a good company, you usually get a 1-year warranty on that. However, most external hard drives only give you a 1-year warranty on both the enclosure and the drive. Since the drive has lots of moving parts and is therefore more likely to fail than the enclosure, it makes sense to get a good warranty on the drive.

3. Usually, getting an enclosure + the drive is cheaper than buying an external hard drive. And even if it comes out to the same price, which can happen with the more expensive enclosures, you get a better hard drive and a much better warranty on it.

4. Installing a hard drive in a decent enclosure is dead simple. If you know how to operate a screwdriver, you will have no trouble doing it regardless of technical ability.

The only thing to remember is to make sure you get a drive that's compatible with the enclosure - many enclosures have maximum drive sizes they support, and you want to make sure the enclosure can handle at least the size of drive you're going to put in it. Also, some enclosures use Parallel ATA drives and some use Serial ATA drives. You need to make sure you get the right kind of hard drive to match your enclosure. Finally, you need to make sure the enclosure is designed for the right size of disk. If you are using a 3.5" drive, you need a 3.5" enclosure. If you are using a 2.5" notebook drive, you need a 2.5" enclosure. Obvious enough.

My recommendation for the drive? Seagate. 'Nuff said.

My recommendation for the enclosure? I don't have one. There are lots of decent enclosures out there. It depends on what interface you want. If you only want USB 2.0, you can get plenty of really cheap enclosures on newegg.com that will work okay with USB 2.0. FireWire is more temperamental, though, so although there do exist cheap FireWire enclosures on Newegg, I would definitely recommend avoiding those. This is because most of the inexpensive FireWire enclosures use the Prolific chipset, which is well-known all over the Internet to corrupt hard drives. I have had this happen to me once, so I can tell you for sure that this does in fact happen. So if you want FireWire, you need to know what chipset you're getting. Oxford has by far the best reputation of any FireWire chipset for performance and reliability. Initio must be at least okay since Macally uses them, but you don't hear much about Initio on the Internet, whereas Oxford is highly regarded by pretty much everyone. So my recommendation would be to get an Oxford chipset if you can. Unfortunately, they tend to be more expensive than other FireWire enclosures, but the bright side is that if an enclosure uses Oxford, they almost always advertise this fact due to the fact that Oxford is so well known, so it's fairly easy to find whether an enclosure uses an Oxford chipset or not.

Most enclosures that use the same chipset are pretty much equivalent. However, there are a few other considerations. Some enclosures have fans, which depending on your point of view could either increase reliability or just create an annoying noise. Additionally, some enclosures are made of aluminum, which makes for much better heat dissipation than plastic.

With all that said, here's the enclosure I have:

OWC Mercury Elite-AL Quad Interface eSATA,... (MEFW924AL1K) at OWC

Definitely not the cheapest on the market - in fact it's one of the more expensive. It's got a quad interface, though, which is pretty sweet, and it takes a 3.5" Serial ATA hard drive. The design is beautiful, made of aluminum, and it's not too big. OWC ships a TORX screwdriver and cables for each of the interfaces the enclosure supports, which is a nice touch. One annoying thing about it is that the power LED is a really bright blue light that doesn't turn off when the computer goes to sleep, which could be annoying at night if the computer is in your bedroom.

Of course, you can save some cash with this enclosure by getting it in only a dual or triple enclosure instead of quad. The non-quad models use Parallel ATA instead of Serial ATA drives. If what you're looking for is a notebook drive, OWC sells a bunch of 2.5" notebook enclosures also. AFAIK, all the OWC-branded enclosures that support FireWire use the Oxford chipset, but you should always check the product description just to be sure.

Some other companies with FireWire enclosures:

External USB and FireWire Hard Drives and Enclosures - WiebeTech Storage Solutions - Home is very well spoken of.

Transintl has a bunch of enclosures that use the Oxford chipset.

FireWire Enclosures - I just found these guys with Google, but most of the enclosures use the Oxford chipset, so they're functionally identical to other enclosures using the same chipset.

The Newer MiniStack looks kind of neat. It builds both a FireWire and USB 2.0 hub right into the enclosure, and looks really small. It does have a fan, though, although I have no idea whether the noise from that fan would be noticeable or not since I haven't used one. Unfortunately, there's no FireWire 800.

There are quite a few other companies out there that make FireWire enclosures. You can google for "FireWire Oxford enclosure" to find a bunch of them. Pick out an enclosure you like, stick in a drive that you like, and make your perfect hard drive! That's my recommendation, anyway.
( Last edited by CharlesS; May 21, 2007 at 06:37 AM. )

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Hawkeye_a  (op)
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May 30, 2007, 05:18 AM
 
Thanks for the advice dude. i have a couple of 'IT friends' who recommended i construct an external HDD with their help as well.... bing so cheap n all.

I decided to go with the 500GB WD HDD just cause of convenience and urgency. Just got it in the mail today...and i must say it's pretty small for 500giger.

Before i get it going..... what format do you guys recommend ? id potentially *like* to be able to hook it up to windows boxes. but im oblivious to the advantages/disadvantages of Window's file formats.

Cheers
     
kikkoman
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May 30, 2007, 06:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
Thanks for the advice dude. i have a couple of 'IT friends' who recommended i construct an external HDD with their help as well.... bing so cheap n all.

I decided to go with the 500GB WD HDD just cause of convenience and urgency. Just got it in the mail today...and i must say it's pretty small for 500giger.

Before i get it going..... what format do you guys recommend ? id potentially *like* to be able to hook it up to windows boxes. but im oblivious to the advantages/disadvantages of Window's file formats.

Cheers
I would normally get my own disk and enclosure but I have recommended the WD My Book drives to normal people. The 500 GB versions are available for under $200. I think it's a pretty decent value and they are nice looking too. If you want cross platform usability you'll need to keep it in FAT32. The only limitation I know is a file size limit of 4 GB.
( Last edited by kikkoman; May 30, 2007 at 06:58 AM. Reason: grammer)
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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May 30, 2007, 06:15 AM
 
The manual says that OSX does not recognize anything over 128GM in FAT32 format..... is that true ? is there a way i can format it as an "NTFS" disk ? (im assuming that Macs and WinXP PCs understand NTFS ?
     
CharlesS
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May 30, 2007, 06:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
Thanks for the advice dude. i have a couple of 'IT friends' who recommended i construct an external HDD with their help as well.... bing so cheap n all.
And because you get a better drive, better warranty, and probably a better enclosure too. But whatever floats your boat.

The manual says that OSX does not recognize anything over 128GM in FAT32 format..... is that true ? is there a way i can format it as an "NTFS" disk ? (im assuming that Macs and WinXP PCs understand NTFS ?
Nope, Macs can read NTFS, but not write to it. You could partition it into four 128 GB partitions, though, and that would probably work.

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May 30, 2007, 06:22 AM
 
NM. Beaten by charles by a few seconds.

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Hawkeye_a  (op)
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May 30, 2007, 06:24 AM
 
WD's knowledge base says OSX 10.4.x has no problem with FAT32 drives over 128GB.... lets see i guess.

Cheers again guys.
     
11011001
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May 30, 2007, 06:31 AM
 
It's possible to write to NTFS with something called MacFUSE and a module called NTFS-3g.

http://shadowofged.blogspot.com/2007...-mac-os-x.html

Obviously it suffers in the area of performance (don't use it for video editing, for instance), but for everyday things it's more than sufficient. I'm using it with my BootCamp partition and Parallels.
     
mdc
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May 30, 2007, 09:23 AM
 
I bought a 500gb USB Western Digital My Book this weekend from Best Buy for $129. It came formatted as one big 500gb FAT32 partition; which I erased and created a Mac OS partition since I don't have any windows boxes this is going to be plugged into.

They still have them for $129.99 .
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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May 30, 2007, 09:38 AM
 
i tried using Fat32 for the past few hours and wow...atrotious...my files didnt know which folders they were in and i kept loosing folders when i tried to arrange the icons, etc....

i formatted it as a HFS+ drive for now....
     
Uncle Skeleton
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May 30, 2007, 09:57 AM
 
It used to be that you'd pay a premium for external drives, like double the cost of an equivalent internal drive, despite the fact that larger drive capacities don't require better enclosures. But that's not really true anymore. For at least a year I've seen pre-built external drives for only about $20 more than the same size internal drives.

As for reliability, would seagate really sell you an external with a maxtor inside it? I know that sounds rhetorical, but now I'm really curious. Anyone have one?
     
CharlesS
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May 30, 2007, 01:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
As for reliability, would seagate really sell you an external with a maxtor inside it? I know that sounds rhetorical, but now I'm really curious. Anyone have one?
It might be a real Seagate drive, but it's impossible to know since they don't tell you on the web site. If you're going FireWire, you also don't know what chipset the enclosure is using.

And of course, even if they do use a high-end Seagate drive, you're still not going to get that 5-year warranty that you'd get if you bought the drive itself.

Of course, with WD, you can be pretty certain that the drive won't be Seagate.

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Uncle Skeleton
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May 30, 2007, 02:55 PM
 
I don't care about getting the warranty, I only care that they have enough confidence in their product to give the warranty. The drive itself is worthless compared with the value of the data on the drive. So if they use a Seagate drive inside a standard enclosure, that's good enough for me even if they cut down the actual warranty they give. The question is, do seagate externals contain seagate internals?

It's hard for me to believe anyone still sells firewire chipsets slow enough to make much difference on my FW400 ports, so I'm not really worried about that to start with.
     
centerchannel68
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May 30, 2007, 03:27 PM
 
Buy a hard drive enclosure from new egg... it should be under $30, shipped. Then just hop over to pricewatch and pick out a huge hard drive. Done.
     
CharlesS
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May 30, 2007, 11:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
I don't care about getting the warranty, I only care that they have enough confidence in their product to give the warranty. The drive itself is worthless compared with the value of the data on the drive. So if they use a Seagate drive inside a standard enclosure, that's good enough for me even if they cut down the actual warranty they give. The question is, do seagate externals contain seagate internals?
The whole point is that there's no way to know.

It's hard for me to believe anyone still sells firewire chipsets slow enough to make much difference on my FW400 ports, so I'm not really worried about that to start with.
Not only is there a difference, but as I already pointed out, the cheapest (and hence the most common) FireWire chipsets, from Prolific, not only are slow, but they actually corrupt the data on your drive.

I forgot to mention an additional benefit of building your own drive - if the enclosure you get doesn't come with a hard drive preinstalled but requires you to install one yourself, then the case tends to be much more user-accessible than the external hard drives are. So if you want to replace the drive with a bigger/better one, you probably can open up an external hard drive and swap it out with some effort, but it won't be as easy as it is with an enclosure.

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as2
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May 31, 2007, 08:29 AM
 
This got a very good review in the UK MacUser magazine, think it's a bit cheaper over here though.

Freecom
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May 31, 2007, 03:21 PM
 
     
King Bob On The Cob
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Jun 2, 2007, 04:52 PM
 
I got a case with the Oxford 911 chip in it for right under $30, and I couldn't be happier with it (I'm sure the drive could, because the case gets pretty warm, but oh well, that's what I get for spending so little on it).

Word to the wise, if you're going to keep the hard drive running in an un-air conditioned place with high humidity, you're going to want one with a fan, or else risk bricking the hard drive early.
     
CharlesS
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Jun 2, 2007, 10:47 PM
 
You should provide a link to where you can get that Oxford 911 case for $30. That could be very helpful to a lot of people.

I wasn't able to find any for under $45-$50.

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King Bob On The Cob
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Jun 3, 2007, 02:15 AM
 
I found it as a web deal through Froogle, not sure if the company that made it is still in business anymore even.
     
Peter
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Jun 3, 2007, 02:27 AM
 
Lacie make a great FW400/USB2/eSata 500Gb Drive.
we don't have time to stop for gas
     
CharlesS
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Jun 3, 2007, 02:45 AM
 
If you do a search of the forums, you will find that LaCie's reputation is terrible for external hard drives.

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bstone
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Jun 3, 2007, 02:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
If you do a search of the forums, you will find that LaCie's reputation is terrible for external hard drives.
As a professional Mac guy with many years of full-time experience, I beg to differ. They have been the most reliable brand with top notch tech support.
( Last edited by bstone; Jun 3, 2007 at 02:57 AM. )
     
Peter
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Jun 3, 2007, 02:53 AM
 
same.
We use 8 external Lacie drives (for offsite backups) and they've been superb. Other drives such as Western Digital have died long before the Lacies show any sign of giving up.
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CharlesS
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Jun 3, 2007, 03:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by bstone View Post
As a professional Mac guy with many years of full-time experience, I beg to differ. They have been the most reliable brand with top notch tech support.
More reliable than a Seagate in a good enclosure? I don't think so.

Seriously, do a search. People have reported all kinds of problems with the LaCie Porsche drives. I'll help you get started:

http://forums.macnn.com/89/macnn-lou...y-f-a-porsche/

http://forums.macnn.com/57/consumer-...blems-porsche/

http://forums.macnn.com/57/consumer-...yone-here-had/

http://forums.macnn.com/57/consumer-...0-gb-external/

edit: more:

BrainFuel ╗ Lacie Porsche Portable Hard Drive Review
( Last edited by CharlesS; Jun 3, 2007 at 03:13 AM. )

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bstone
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Jun 3, 2007, 03:07 AM
 
Um, ok. I am gonna stop posting here cause it seems people are a little too involved with this debate. Later.
     
Peter
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Jun 3, 2007, 03:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
More reliable than a Seagate in a good enclosure? I don't think so.

Seriously, do a search. People have reported all kinds of problems with the LaCie Porsche drives. I'll help you get started:

http://forums.macnn.com/89/macnn-lou...y-f-a-porsche/

http://forums.macnn.com/57/consumer-...blems-porsche/

http://forums.macnn.com/57/consumer-...yone-here-had/

http://forums.macnn.com/57/consumer-...0-gb-external/

edit: more:

BrainFuel ╗ Lacie Porsche Portable Hard Drive Review
Well, I've never had an issue (touch wood) - can't recommend them enough.
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Jun 3, 2007, 03:43 AM
 
I have the Porsche. No problems except that one of my PowerBook's USB ports seems to be underpowered and can't mount it.
     
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Jun 3, 2007, 04:01 AM
 
The LaCie Porche drives have to be some of the worst drives known the man.

My first experience with the Porsche drives was in 2004. Our college IT department had bought a bunch to reimage Macs with, except none of them would boot. We called LaCie tech support and I don't remember what response they gave us. Something about how the drives should boot. But none of them booted, and we installed OS X over and over and tried to boot from a bunch of machines and it never worked.

At where I work now we got a bunch of the Porsches again to boot machines from to reimage (basically what we wanted to do with the drives at the college). The good news is apparently the Prosches will now boot. The bad news is they're all still crappy drives. Out of about 8 drives, we've already had a few fail on us. Not only that, but we've had trouble with the build quality. I once plugged in a drive, noticed that it wasn't getting power, and gently pulled out the plug to have the power plug's pins fall into my hand. I don't mean they were broken and there were pin bits still in the plug. I mean they just cleanly popped right off, just like they were soldered in and suddenly became unsoldered.

We've been using the D2's and the Big Disks without trouble. But stay away from the Porsches.
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Jun 10, 2007, 02:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
...provide a link to where you can get that Oxford 911 case for $30. That could be very helpful to a lot of people.

I wasn't able to find any for under $45-$50.
Plumax PM-525F2-POB Black Firewire 1394 (Oxford 911) External Enclosure for 5.25 / 3.5 Inch HDD/Device, w/ Ball Bearing Fan
Our Price:$29.99

http://www.dealsonic.com/plpmblfi13o9.html

Key Features:

New Version Includes EMI Shield!
Oxford OXFW911+ Chipset Supports up to 500GB HDD!
Converts drives to External FireWire Drive (IEEE 1394)
Support UDMA 33/66 or ATA 100/133 CD-ROM, CD-D, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM.
Support for MAC OS 9.X and Windows 98, 98SE, ME, 2000 and XP.
Not compatible with MAC OS 'X'
Daisy Chainable
Provides (2) Two 400Mbits/sec ports (Connect one port to Host Computer and Use second port for daisy chain to a second drive)
Hot Swappable, Plug & Play features.
Removable front panel to cover 3.5" hard drive or 3.5" tape drive.
Support sustained data transfer rates up to 35 MB/sec, peak 66 MB/sec.
Internal silent ball bearing fan to keep drive cool for long life cycle.
Do not try to connect any other kind of devices to the Enclosure FireWire ports like Video Cameras, Camcordders, etc., it could damage your unit.
Package Contents:

Plumax 1394 Enclosure Kit with built-in power supply
2 meter 1394 cable (6-pin to 6-pin Type 1 Male - Type 1 Male)
AC Power Cord
Driver CD
Removable front panel for 3.5" Devices
Screw sets for installing storage devices.
PC Requirements:

IEEE-1394 FireWire Enabled PC
Windows 98SE, 2000, ME or XP
MAC Requirements:

FireWire Enabled Mac
OS 9.X
Specifications:

Size: 10.1"(L) x 6.25"(W) x 2.14" (H) (Approximate)
Power Supply: 100-240V, 50/60HZ, 50 Watt
Fan Spec: UL, CSA, CE fan with ball bearing
     
CharlesS
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Jun 10, 2007, 02:43 AM
 
Looks good, except that the enclosure has a fan, which will cause noise and which may be bothersome to some people.

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Jun 10, 2007, 05:03 AM
 
I'd never buy an enclosure with a fan, when there are great ones without.

But not everybody does care.

Some work environments, offices, are so loud you'd need microphones to hear the fan noise.

But I'm absolutely with you when you say you'd only buy a good enclosure, not a cheapo. In reviews where cheapos always have trouble like getting too warm or having trouble with the power connection, or, as you mentioned, poor chip sets (I could hardly believe it rubbish like those Prolific chipsets are still on the market, when it is known they corrupt the hard drive).

I think one should not save on one's back-up. What is spending a hundred dollars more when you have more peace regarding the crash of your back-up.
     
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Jul 11, 2007, 03:34 AM
 
Had a quesion about daisy chaining th e WD MyBook 500GB HDD.

I noticed its got 2 FW800, 1 USB2 and 1 FW400..... currently im using the FW400 cause none of my Macs have FW800.... is there anyway to connect the MyBook to my Mac using the enclosure's FW800 port to the mac's FW400 port ? and then using the FW400 port on the MyBookto daisychain...an iSight or iPod ?

The drives been working fine so far, liking it a lot. Apart from the initial latency to spin up the drive when its been idle for a long time, i got no complaints.
     
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Jul 11, 2007, 03:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by goMac View Post
We've been using the D2's and the Big Disks without trouble. But stay away from the Porsches.
An update: our D2's are also glitching out. Just stay away from LaCie.
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Jul 11, 2007, 05:16 AM
 
I've a Seagate drive that I've never had any issues with.
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Jul 11, 2007, 10:04 AM
 
I like 1500Gb western digital MyBooks

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Jul 16, 2007, 09:18 PM
 
External hard drives are cheap enough. You can build your own, but it probably isn't worth the even minor hassle. Try WD or La Cie.
     
CharlesS
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Jul 17, 2007, 02:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by PEPPERRULES View Post
External hard drives are cheap enough. You can build your own, but it probably isn't worth the even minor hassle, unless it's important for you to have a drive that works. Try WD or La Cie if you like your drive going up in smoke and taking all your data with it.
Fixed.

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