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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Consumer Hardware & Components > External hard drive recommendation?

External hard drive recommendation?
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cruciarius
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May 7, 2010, 02:26 PM
 
First off, I have an old iMac G4, 800MHz. Highest OS X I can install is 10.4.11. Can't do 10.5.x, due to hardware limitations.

Anyway, I've been in need of an external HD. I go through CD-Rs and DVD-Rs far too fast.

I know LaCie is a good brand, so I've looked at them. Don't have a ton of money, so was looking in the ~$100 range and saw the 1TB Hard Disk Design by Neil Poulton USB 2.0 (RECON). I got a refurbished external DVD±R drive from them about a year ago and it's been working great. Was also told that with external HDs they either work for a long time or dead right out of the box, which would mean I'd get it exchanged at no cost.

So... I was looking at the drive and noticed LaCie has a $10 off deal going on for that drive. After further investigation I learned that drive is compatible with 10.5.x or greater. Does anyone else have the drive? Why can't it be used with 10.4.x?

Also, if it just won't work with 10.4.x, does anyone know of a reliable external 1TB+ HD for around $100 that will work with 10.4.x and compatible with USB 1.1?
     
cgc
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May 8, 2010, 08:25 AM
 
If you're planning on connecting the HDD via USB 1.1 I wouldn't bother (WAY too slow). If you're planning on using FW400 then make sure you get a good bridge chipset like an Oxford chipset (avoid those crappy Prolific chipsets).
     
cruciarius  (op)
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May 8, 2010, 10:48 AM
 
I don't see what's wrong with USB 1.1. My brother let me borrow his external HD for a while, which was a MyBook (forget the exact model). I connected it via USB and the speeds were fine for me.

No idea what Oxford or Prolific chipsets are. I'm not that into the technical details of the hardware.

Edit:

After posting the above, I went looking at the MyBook. They apparently already updated the model my brother has, with this one. He paid almost $200 for his, but this one is $100 and, according to the info, smaller than the previous version. It too also works with Tiger (10.4.x).

The only thing it doesn't mention is if it's compatible with USB 1.1. I've read that a USB 2.0 product is only compatible with USB 1.1 if it says so on the packaging/product info.
( Last edited by cruciarius; May 8, 2010 at 01:24 PM. )
     
reader50
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May 8, 2010, 02:09 PM
 
It's most likely compatible with USB 1.1 and Tiger. They didn't bother to test those combinations, so they didn't list them.

Reason not to use USB 1.1 - speed. It theoretically maxes out at 1.5 MB per second, but will in practice be slower due to bus overhead. Say you want to store the contents of a DVD-R (4.3 GB or less). It works out to 1 - 1.5 hours, depending on actual sustained speed.

FireWire 400 has very little bus overhead. You'll come very close to 50 MB per second. So the same 4.3 GB backup would take about 90 seconds.
     
cruciarius  (op)
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May 8, 2010, 02:22 PM
 
Are you sure about those speeds? As I said, I've borrowed an older model MyBook, which has USB 2.0. I've got USB 1.1. The transfer speeds for it were fine for me. I don't recall the time it took, but didn't take too long to transfer about a 700MB file to it.

I'll keep looking for a drive with firewire, but firewire doesn't seem to be on much anymore, sadly. Those that have it are fairly expensive.
     
reader50
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May 8, 2010, 02:51 PM
 
For a 700 MB backup.

USB 1.1: 10-15 minutes.
FW 400: 14-15 seconds.

Try this link for 3.5" FireWire enclosures. Then add your own hard drive.

According to the customer reviews, the macally G-S350SUA and Icy Dock MB559 MB559UEA-1S consistently come with Oxford chipsets. According to the specs, the StarTech SAT3510U2F comes with an Oxford chip.
     
cruciarius  (op)
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May 8, 2010, 03:04 PM
 
Won't an external enclosure + HD to put inside cost more than buying an already put together external HD? I can't really go much over $100 right now and want a 1TB drive.
     
CharlesS
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May 8, 2010, 06:56 PM
 
Not really.

$80 hard drive + $40 enclosure == $120 total.

If you just want USB, then $80 hard drive + any of these ~$20 enclosures == ~$100 total.

Do be aware that that hard drive deal expires tomorrow, by the looks of it.

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cruciarius  (op)
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May 8, 2010, 07:01 PM
 
If I went just USB, I might as well just buy a USB external HD, rather than putting one together myself (something I've never done).

Firewire drives seem to be out of my price range.
     
reader50
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May 8, 2010, 07:56 PM
 
Here's a WD MyBook 1 TB (recertified by factory)

FW400 / USB2 / eSATA

$90 with free shipping
     
cruciarius  (op)
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May 8, 2010, 09:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Here's a WD MyBook 1 TB (recertified by factory)

FW400 / USB2 / eSATA

$90 with free shipping
That sounds ideal, but it doesn't say if it's compatible with Tiger (10.4.x) or not.
     
AKcrab
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May 8, 2010, 09:40 PM
 
It is compatible.
     
CharlesS
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May 8, 2010, 11:12 PM
 
If you have to get an already-built drive (which I generally don't recommend since the cases tend to be far less accessible, the warranty on the drive is worse, and the hard drive and FireWire chipset used are usually unknown), this one might be better than the MyBook. I know it's MacMall, but hey, $100 for a hard drive using an Oxford FW800 chipset.

As for compatibility with Tiger, pretty much anything should be. I mean, c'mon, it's just a hard drive.

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cruciarius  (op)
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May 8, 2010, 11:21 PM
 
That one looks ok, but I don't think I can do the $140 price tag (only $100 after the $40 mail-in rebate).

I still don't know the difference between the chipset that was mentioned.

I agree that any hard drive should be compatible, but if it says 10.5.x or greater or even only lists Windows, then I'm not gonna bother. I'd be more comfortable ordering a hard drive that says it'll work with what I have.

Most likely, it's additional software that really requires the higher OS requirements, but I'm still leaning towards that MyBook reader50 linked.
     
qazwart
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May 10, 2010, 11:48 PM
 
The LaCie Rugged has a model that comes with USB 2.0, FireWire 400, and FireWire 800. That's the one you want. <http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=11030>. It'll work on your old Mac, and if you get a new one, you can use the USB 2.0 or the FireWire 400 drive on it.
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Big Mac
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May 11, 2010, 06:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Here's a WD MyBook 1 TB (recertified by factory)

FW400 / USB2 / eSATA

$90 with free shipping
Are recertified drivers worth the risk?

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
cruciarius  (op)
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May 11, 2010, 05:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
Are recertified drivers worth the risk?
Even refurbished hardware get a warranty. I think that one has a 90 day warranty, which should be fine. I've been told that with HDs, it's either DOA or it'll last a very long time, if properly cared for.
     
anthology123
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May 18, 2010, 12:50 PM
 
If you are happy with the connecting it to USB 1.1 and getting that speed then go for it. If you have a friend that has a Firewire 400 drive, compare the speed of the two. If you find the FW400 is not any faster than USB 1.1, then something is wrong with either the drive or your Mac.
     
cruciarius  (op)
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May 28, 2010, 01:33 PM
 
The drive I linked in the first post, although says 10.5.x+, LaCie has told me via Twitter that it does support 10.4.x.

Not sure why they don't say that on the page.
     
CharlesS
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May 28, 2010, 04:17 PM
 
Any hard drive should work with any version of OS X. The system requirements are likely either arbitrary or applicable to bundled software that may come with the drive, and which you could easily do without. However, LaCie's reputation for hard drives is not stellar. I'd probably go with something else, myself, but that's me.

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ClaraT
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Jun 15, 2010, 04:39 PM
 
Would anyone mind commenting on the quality of drives from OWC please? I'm looking at the Mercury Elite AL Pro, 500 Gb, 7200 RPM, Firewire 400 and USB 2.0 and would like to hear from other Mac users what you think of this company's reputation. This brand is never included in the reviews and research I've been doing. Lots of info on LaCie, WD and Seagate though. Three reviewers gave the Elite AL Pro 2.5 stars on Amazon, one saying to "exercise caution".

The guy at OWC said there's an Hitachi Deskstar 3.5"" drive inside the Elite and he was very
informative.

If not OWC, then which brand? WD or Seagate?

Thanks
     
AKcrab
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Jun 15, 2010, 04:46 PM
 
We sell LaCie drives and sell the Mercury Elite cases as "empty" cases. They look like crap, but seem to function fine.
     
CharlesS
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Jun 16, 2010, 04:58 AM
 
OWC's FireWire cases are top notch, and use the high-end Oxford chipsets (and they definitely don't look like crap). I'd opt for an aluminum-based one in order to maximize the heat dissipation.

Ticking sound coming from a .pkg package? Don't let the .bom go off! Inspect it first with Pacifist. Macworld - five mice!
     
AKcrab
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Jun 16, 2010, 05:14 AM
 
"Looks like crap" may have been an overstatement.. But the large logo/branding on the side really drives me nuts.

Like I said, functionally they are fine.
     
ClaraT
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Jun 16, 2010, 12:53 PM
 
Surprised myself and went for this Today's Deal: FreeAgent Desk for Mac 500GB - Only $59.99

It's about $30 less than the OWC Elite. Really appreciated the positive votes for OWC though.

And let's remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
     
CharlesS
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Jun 16, 2010, 01:42 PM
 
I actually think the OWC is a really nice-looking case. To each his own, I guess.

Ticking sound coming from a .pkg package? Don't let the .bom go off! Inspect it first with Pacifist. Macworld - five mice!
     
jmiddel
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Jun 19, 2010, 06:05 PM
 
Acomodata and Macally also make great and good looking enclosures.
     
Tuoder
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Jun 24, 2010, 03:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by ClaraT View Post
Would anyone mind commenting on the quality of drives from OWC please? I'm looking at the Mercury Elite AL Pro, 500 Gb, 7200 RPM, Firewire 400 and USB 2.0 and would like to hear from other Mac users what you think of this company's reputation. This brand is never included in the reviews and research I've been doing. Lots of info on LaCie, WD and Seagate though. Three reviewers gave the Elite AL Pro 2.5 stars on Amazon, one saying to "exercise caution".

The guy at OWC said there's an Hitachi Deskstar 3.5"" drive inside the Elite and he was very
informative.

If not OWC, then which brand? WD or Seagate?

Thanks
If it has an Oxford chipset in it, then the only thing left to fret about is build quality and appearance. I think they look stupid, but they seem built well enough.
     
cgc
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Jun 25, 2010, 06:44 PM
 
I've got an older CoolDrives external enclosure with an Oxford chipset (USB 1/2, FW 400/800, eSATA) and have had no problems for three years. I've loaned it out to friends and travelled with it too.

Here's a similar one for < $40.

     
   
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