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A Review of the Top Four External Hard Drives 180

Posted by Zonk
from the nothing-like-a-good-backup dept.
Lucas123 writes "There's a really good, detailed review at the Computerworld site on the top four external hard drives with more than 500GB of capacity. The story reveals some big flaws in the external drives, like malfunctioning one-touch backup buttons, USB 2.0 ports that don't recognize the drives, and drives coming out of the boxes unformatted. It's also an eye opener with regard to actual backup speeds. 'Broadband connections, peer-to-peer networks and larger media files coupled with new regulations that require diligence in backing up files have clearly affected the external hard drive market as drive capacities expand to 1TB and beyond. Meanwhile, the prices of those drives continue to drop, making them ever more attractive, particularly with the ease of deployment -- literally a two-minute installation, and you're ready to go. We put four of the leading external hard drives to the test. Our criteria were simple: The drives had to have multiple connection technologies (USB 2.0 plus FireWire 400 or FireWire 800 or both), include backup software and have a capacity of at least 500GB.'"
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A Review of the Top Four External Hard Drives

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:27PM (#18706873)
    I've never heard of this brand, and for the price and all of the tests it spanked the pants off of all the rest of the drives.. I see he didn't like the quirks but it smoked the rest of them.
    • by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:41PM (#18707097)
      Lacie has been around in the Mac world for a long time, which may explain the nice Firewire performance. It may also explain why it "wasn't formatted"... I'm speculating, but it is conceivable that it was Mac-formatted. Or not. I'm not sure who would back up to a drive without first doing a format anyway, if only to check for integrity.

      Regarding the inoperable button, which is their main complaint about the drive, I'm surprised that they didn't contact Lacie support and report back... it's conceivable that it is a know issue or a bum unit. Then again, I'm rarely impressed by the reporting at Computerworld.
      • Well, if it's designed for a Mac, it's possible that it's not formatted on purpose: first, because it's trivial to format a drive when you connect it up the first time (plug drive in, dialog comes up saying that it's not formatted, would you like to format it, click yes ... etc.), and also because there are a few filesystems that people might want.

        Apple's Disk Utility offers six options to format a disk into: Mac OS Extended (HFS+), Mac OS Extended (HFS+) Journaled, Mac OS Extended (HFS+) Case-Sensitive, Mac OS Extended (HFS+) Case-Sensitive Journaled, MS-DOS File System (FAT32), UNIX File System (EXT2?).

        I guess I would assume that a "high end" HW manufacturer like Lacie would pre-format the drives to Mac OS Extended Journaled, because that's what Apple recommends as a default these days, but particularly if it's a product that's being aimed at non-clueless users, they might have just decided it wasn't worth it.
        • by MightyYar (622222)
          It's also a tech-support nightmare if they format it to FAT32 (for wide compatibility) and then users complain because their backups from NTFS or HFS are unusable. Better to just leave it to the system that they plug it into. If they format it as NTFS it will mount as read-only on Macs... not a good option for a Mac vendor.
        • by dadragon (177695)
          UNIX File System (EXT2?)

          Nope, it's actually very similar to FFS, the default filesystem of {Free,Net,Open}BSD. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] will tell you more.
        • LaCie support = good (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I guess I would assume that a "high end" HW manufacturer like Lacie would pre-format the drives to Mac OS Extended Journaled, because that's what Apple recommends as a default these days...

          Bingo. As a LaCie owner with both Mac & PC, they do default to PowerPC vanilla-HFS so any MacOS version can load it up. If the drive stops working properly in OSX their tech support will automatically give you a RMA and not a half hour of Windows tests to try. Their website and phone staff are pretty good too.. I've talked with both the U.S. and Canada guys.

          Also, from experience, these are tough buggers. My Big Disk Extreme needed to have it's interface card replaced. The connection died on the PC

          • by PitaBred (632671)

            My only complaint is that despite having three interfaces, you can't have all three connected to different computers at the same time. That's just too much to ask for I guess. Time for a standalone 4-drive bay, methinks.

            Umm... duh? They're all just different interfaces to the same controller of the same physical drive. It's not like it's a network controller with a network filesystem such as SMB or whatever, something that's made to take requests from multiple sources. If you want to use something like

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by AvitarX (172628)
        All the drives I purchased were formatted FAT32.

        I always format them to NTFS or EXT3 or HFS+ To allow big files to be on them.

        Not much point in a 100 GB+ drive that you can't put your DVD ISOs on IMHO.

        I wonder if there will be a new universaly supported lowest common denominator like FAT32 by the time 8TiB drives come out though.

        It is convienient to be able to write to your disks from every computer.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by 1stworld (929011)
        I own one of these drives (640 Gb) and it is pre-formatted Mac OS X Extended Journaled. That alone says volumes about Computerworld's test engineers. It's very fast and quiet. I'd buy another.
      • by IvyKing (732111) on Friday April 13, 2007 @12:35AM (#18714645)

        Lacie has been around in the Mac world for a long time, which may explain the nice Firewire performance. It may also explain why it "wasn't formatted"... I'm speculating, but it is conceivable that it was Mac-formatted.


        The docs that came with the LaCie BigDisk bought by a co-worker specifically stated that it was formatted for the Mac as Mac's were the most common computers with a FW800 interface. My co-worker had no trouble re-formatting the drive for ext3 using the FW400 interface (fastest external interface on a two or so year old e-machines AMD64 laptop - we tested the interface using my LaCie). The drive has not given any troubles despite being subject to bouncing while running, powerdowns while running and other not so gentle treatment.


        While FAT32 does have the advantage that just about anything can read/write to it, the 4GB file size limitation (which dates back to Seattle Computer Products' QDOS original FAT implementation) really limits its usefulness for large drives. SOP for me is to re-format FAT drives with the most appropriate file system: UFS for Solaris (fun part was figuring out that I needed to use svcadm to kill vold) or NTFS for Windows XP.


        I wasn't impressed by the review either.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bob C. Cock (605290)
      My employer uses LaCie drives and I frequently see problems where Windows can't detect the device. I was working on a Server 2003 machine earlier and connected one of our BigDisk Firewire/USB LaCie drives to it, and Windows wasn't finding it. I pulled it and connected another drive of the exact same model to the same server and it came up fine. LaCie's have been pretty flakey in my experience, if you're looking for an external USB drive, don't get a LaCie.
      • by badasscat (563442)
        My employer uses LaCie drives and I frequently see problems where Windows can't detect the device.

        We use LaCie drives at my office and I can verify this. It's also not really a problem with only one specific model of theirs; we have problems with one of our original-release Porsche drives from them (this drive is now 100% dead, incidentally) and we have the same problem on the new 500GB drives we purchased in March.

        I also personally don't think LaCie drives are all that reliable. In addition to the Porsc
    • LaCie is pretty well known in the Apple world - FWIW. I've used them (on PCs) for a couple of years, have 4 different models and have been happy with them. Don't have the Quadra but these days, with all of the various incarnations and incantations of USB/firewire chips, I'm not at all surprised that they don't all work and play happily with each other.

      For the average Slashdot reader, a minor compatibility issue might not be such a big deal as there is likely a workaround. But if you're pitching this "r

    • by nuzak (959558)
      I have a LaCie BigDisk, and the damn thing keeps disappearing from the devices list, or appearing as a different device. In order to fix this, I have to 1) Disconnect the USB cable, 2) UNPLUG the drive (turning it off won't work), 3) WAIT at least a minute (10 seconds doesn't work), 4) plug the drive back in, 5) plug the USB back in.

      This is their OFFICIAL troubleshooting procedure too. All my coworkers that have the LaCies have the same problem. Some coworkers have a Western Digital that's half the capac
  • by Coopjust (872796) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:28PM (#18706895)
    Why not just do it yourself? All you have to do is buy an enclosure and a drive...

    -It's cheaper to buy the two separately.
    -You get to pick your drive case (color, features, etc.)
    -You get to pick your drive (WD, Maxtor, Seagate).
    -While OEM drives often come with more than a year warranty (SG is 5 years, I believe WD is three), regular external drives often come with a one year warranty.

    While you do lose a few features (I'm dying for a good enclosure w/ one button backup), it's cheaper and you have more selection. Plus, the software that comes with external hard drives is such crap anyways (Seagate and BounceBack Crippled/Express Edition).

    Of course, as a slashdotter, I may not be representative of the average computer user (OK, I'm not).
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I agree it's cheaper, and you want to partition/format it in your preferred way anyhow (FAT32, NTFS, EXT2, etc). The only thing here is watching out for shitty enclosures -- the cheap ones with insufficient cooling. Even if made of metal, sometimes they fry. I've seen countless ByteCC enclosures go bad (to the point of not even worrying about RMA'ing it, what good is another enclosure that'll last another 2 weeks?) I'd at least opt for one with a cooling fan, or at the VERY least one with a good warranty (t
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
        /me ponders "500 GB formatted FAT32" - *head asplodes*
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          Fat32 [wikipedia.org] has support for up to 8 TiB of data in a volume (partition). However the windows included utilities only let you format FAT32 drives up to 32 GiB. However, I'm with you, I fail to see why you would format a 500 GB drive with FAT32. It has a maximum file size of 4 GB, which can be pretty small once you start dealing with video, and DVD images. Of course, the plus side of FAT32 is that it can be read just about anywhere. Still I wish windows had good support for EXT2.
          • by sconeu (64226) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:25PM (#18707975) Homepage Journal
            Still I wish windows had good support for EXT2.

            Not the best, but Explore2FS [chrysocome.net] is pretty nice.

            Of course, writing a Windows File System is a black art. If MS documented it better, maybe there'd be more third party file systems.

            You might want to look at this [fs-driver.org] as well -- disclaimer, I haven't tried it, don't know how good it is.
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              You might want to look at this as well -- disclaimer, I haven't tried it, don't know how good it is.

              I have! Tried it on two different systems. It made both of them horribly unstable, with random lockups and even a nonrebooting bluescreen. Ended up removing it from both, and the problems went away.

              Now, I just store my data on NTFS, and use ntfs-3g to access it.

        • by Kj0n (245572)
          When I bought a 250GB external drive earlier this week, I was thinking the same. However, I decided to stick with it.

          The main reason is compatibility across platforms. The drive will be used to backup data from a Linux fileserver. So, I could have used a Linux filesystem on it. However, if the server dies, it should be possible to read the data back using a Windows machine. This leaves FAT32 as the only practical alternative.

          I have already encountered one limitation of this approach: FAT32 only allows files
    • by Chyeld (713439)
      Perhaps I simply haven't wandered into nirvana, but the typical store bought external drive enclosure around here is a real POS.

      I've had more drives fail in external enclosures with cruddy power/controller issues than I even want to remember. While I haven't switched to premade external drives (instead I'm moving towards mini-file servers stuffed with drives), most of the ones I've bumped into at least give the impression of not being cheap plastic cases.

      If I weren't drooling over the idea of having a rack
    • by aarku (151823)
      My problem is that there is too much selection. I spent hours on newegg trying to find the one I should buy. I was looking for something that supported SATA drives, and had FireWire 400/800, USB 2, and eSATA connections. And something that didn't look like complete ass and have a noisy fan. No luck!
      • by kf6auf (719514)
        I got a CoolMax enclosure from newegg that supports internally SATA and IDE and externally eSATA, FW400, and USB2. I'm very pleased with the enclosure and the 500GB drive I bought, totally less than $200. I strongly recommend it to anyone who's willing to assemble it themselves and save lots of money. Link to Enclosure [newegg.com]
    • Cheaper than $135? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by justthinkit (954982) <floyd@just-think-it.com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:46PM (#18707175) Homepage Journal
      Cheaper than $135 for a 500GB USB 2 drive? That is how much my Maxtor One Touch III 500GB USB2 drive cost. And by the way, why wasn't Maxtor included in this lineup? Even though it was bought up, it still produces a different (and apparently cheaper) product.
      • by Paul Carver (4555) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:21PM (#18707869)
        That's a great price, but Newegg currently has that exact drive (Maxtor One Touch III 500GB) for $155. Amazon doesn't seem to have it but they have a 300GB version for $170 and a 600GB version for $417. www.maxtorstore.com is also selling the 300GB version for $170.

        So, if you managed to get a deal buying it for $20 less than the already low price at Newegg then good for you, but don't pretend that that's the common going rate for external hard drives.
        • I'm not sure I'm trying to pretend anything. For those wanting to get good deals in a more systematic way than running spot checks on various sites (and get good enough prices they can forgoe the hassle of making a USB drive themselves), I suggest DealNews.com [dealnews.com].
    • While you do lose a few features (I'm dying for a good enclosure w/ one button backup), it's cheaper and you have more selection. Plus, the software that comes with external hard drives is such crap anyways (Seagate and BounceBack Crippled/Express Edition).

      Why use a one button backup when it's pretty trivial to write a shell script that'll do an Rsync backup?

      Thanks for the tip about buying the enclosure and the drive separately. I've been looking for a 250GB+ drive to do Rsyncs of my laptops to, and then

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hokie06 (986634)

        Why use a one button backup when it's pretty trivial to write a shell script that'll do an Rsync backup?

        Trivial to many slashdotters? Yes. Trivial to the average user? No.
        Average user's response. What's a shell script? What the hell is rsync?
    • While you do lose a few features (I'm dying for a good enclosure w/ one button backup), it's cheaper and you have more selection. Plus, the software that comes with external hard drives is such crap anyways (Seagate and BounceBack Crippled/Express Edition).
      Also, afaik, you can't access the SMART data from the drive over usb/firewire, you have to plug it in to a regular IDE or sata/esata port.
    • I'll basically echo the other sentiments. Most separate enclosures that I've seen are worse than the complete drives that I've seen. The one WD enclosure is generally more reliable and more compatible than most of the separate enclosures I've bought. The only external enclosure I liked was a $140 dual drive FW800 enclosure that I bought last year. On one enclosure, the metal edges inside the case were razor sharp such that I accidentally cut myself.

      I don't care about the button or the software either.
    • by dargaud (518470)

      Why not just do it yourself? All you have to do is buy an enclosure and a drive...
      Well, that's what I usually do, but I've noticed the very low reliability of enclosures. Three, of different brands, died on me in less that 2 months, usually corrupting part of the filesystem in the process.
    • Why not just do it yourself? All you have to do is buy an enclosure and a drive...

      The chief reason is that somebody has done the work for you to validate the case and bridge board. I've gone through several external drive enclosures from NewEgg before I found one that I like [newegg.com]. The others were too hot, had shit-for-bridgeboards (drives would drop off USB in the middle of a heavy transfer), didn't come with decent cables, et c., etc., etc. I finally found one model that does work well, and I'm running a bun
  • Article = trap. Save your money.

    I get my 500gb hard drives from new egg. Was $179 last year, down to $159 now. Maxtor Onetouch 3. Reasonably quiet (can't hear it move than a few feet away), comes preformatted. Doesn't spin down after like 5m of inactivity. Only issue is that it has an huge, annoying blinking light even when idle. I cover that with a beer can.
    • ...annoying blinking light even when idle. I cover that with a beer can.

      Hmmm, that's not going to work for me then, I use bear bottles, thus my setup is incompatible with this blinking light of which you speak. Oh well, you get what you pay for.
    • I've got a Maxtor OneTouch III Turbo Edition 1TB Array (2x 500GB drives) and the same damn blinking lights. And it's completely distracting -- hypnotic, even. Even more distracting because the logic behind the blink patterns seems completely inscrutable... and I keep trying to scrute it...

      And although I've never done any performance testing on it, it's perfectly fast enough for its intended use on a PVR system, even configured as RAID1 (mirrored), and connected to its host iMac via FW400. I can simult

    • by tedgyz (515156) *

      Article = trap. Save your money.

      I get my 500gb hard drives from new egg. Was $179 last year, down to $159 now. Maxtor Onetouch 3. Reasonably quiet (can't hear it move than a few feet away), comes preformatted. Doesn't spin down after like 5m of inactivity. Only issue is that it has an huge, annoying blinking light even when idle. I cover that with a beer can.

      I just bought an internal WD 500GB from newegg for $135 with a $10 rebate = $125

      Of course, I bought two and made a RAID0 array = almost 1TB :-)

  • I just put together a 250GB USB drive a month or so ago. With a commodity $40 USB case and a $100 western digital hard-drive, I've got an awesome backup solution for my home machine. At that price (or a little better if you want a bigger disk), you can have a tremendous amount of near-line storage available to you.

    Granted, my low tech solution of turning on the drive, copying files onto it, and then turning the drive off isn't as whiz-bangy as getting backup software -- but, I've been copying tar files to
    • Granted, my low tech solution of turning on the drive, copying files onto it, and then turning the drive off isn't as whiz-bangy as getting backup software -- but, I've been copying tar files to filesystems for a long time, so I think I can cope. :-P

      You just reminded me of Sally Field in that Boniva [boniva.com] commercial. Quoth Sally:

      "My girlfriend complained to me the other day that she has to set aside time once a week in order to take her osteoporosis medicine. I only need to take Boniva once a month

      Your so

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Your solution may work for you, but if Americans can't even set aside five friggin' minutes a week to take a pill, I think most of us will be going with the 'whiz-bangy' solution.

        Well, not being an American, I don't have to worry then, do I? ;-)

        Don't get me wrong, I can see why there would be a demand for this -- most people won't know how to do their own backups.

        I'm just saying, if you're even remotely computer savvy ... a one button backup isn't really that critical.

        However, I think you might be the first

    • a tremendous amount of near-line storage available to you

      What do you mean, near-line. USB speeds compare favorably with other consumer harddrive connection protocols.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        What do you mean, near-line. USB speeds compare favorably with other consumer harddrive connection protocols.

        Hmmm .... near-line means available, but not necessarily mounted and live all of the time. My USB drives aren't always on, but they can be when I need them. Think of it as a tape library, but different. I can have an unlimited amount of un-mounted USB drives, any of which can be ready to be used within a few minutes of deciding I need it.

        Some linky goodness

        here [techtarget.com]
        here [webopedia.com]
        here [wikipedia.org]

        Cheers

  • Oh look, when I put the mouse pointer over "Lucas123" my status bar says "http://www.computerworld.com". Heck, his summary even refers to "our criteria".

    Go ahead and RTFA, but arm your adblockers first!
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by east coast (590680)
      The summary is a direct quote from the article. This isn't to say that he is or is not an employee of CW but he didn't write the summary.

      In any case, maybe he is an employee or just a sad, sad man with no other URL to point to.
  • by MiceHead (723398) * on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:42PM (#18707105) Homepage
    I've purchased a few WD Passports (they're up to 160GB now [wdc.com]), and while they seem to be meant more for personal "sync up your stuff!" use, they're not bad for backups. In their favor are the facts that they're powered by USB (you can just plug one in and go, sans supply) and that they're relatively small. The tradeoff is the modest capacity (I really like that we can call 160,000 megabytes "modest" -- simple pleasures for a simple mind, I suppose) and the price-for-storage (they're much more expensive per gig than the WD My Books).

    TFA reviews the My Book Pro, but they also have a USB-only My Book "Essential" (read: Cheaper!) version; anyone tried those?
    ____________________________________
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    • by pla (258480)
      In their favor are the facts that they're powered by USB (you can just plug one in and go, sans supply)

      Although that might seem better, I would call that a showstoppingly critical design flaw.

      USB allows for half a Watt for powered devices. A HDD spinning up can easily draw over 20W. Most USB controllers will handle quite a lot more than the spec'd 0.5W, but 40x more really pushes your luck. A good MB should just shut down that channel. A bad MB might simply cook.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by KokorHekkus (986906)

        USB allows for half a Watt for powered devices. A HDD spinning up can easily draw over 20W. Most USB controllers will handle quite a lot more than the spec'd 0.5W, but 40x more really pushes your luck.

        Actually, that is 2.5 watts, not .5 watts (check the USB specs). And the devices he's talking about are built around 2.5 inch laptop drives. Of course you're technically right that powering ordinary drives via USB... but hey, the parent poster didn't suggest that (and I've never seen anyone else do that!).

        • Two plugs, too... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Animaether (411575)
          Very often these drives some with two USB plugs for the computer end. If your 1 USB port happens not to be able to power the thing, you plug in the other. The down side is that you take up 2 USB ports, but if you just happen to need it.. there you go.

          Of course you then have to figure out still if both ports aren't just on the same controller, etc. (or even if it is a powered port - though rare these days for them not to b) but typically any USB powered port is going to have its own rated 2.5W at disposal.
      • by Trogre (513942)
        USB allows for half an Amp, not half a Watt. That's 500mA, as per the USB specification.

        At the required 5 Volts, P=IxV gives you a maximum of 2.5 Watts of power.

        Your point still stands though. Larger hard drives will always need an external power supply. Enclosures for 2.5" laptop drives often use two USB cables allowing for 1 Amp of current. The two 2.5" HDDs on my desk are rated at 0.7A and 1.0A respectively, so the latter would be pushing it without external power.

    • I have a 160GB Passport drive myself, and while it's pretty cool - I do have to caution people about them. If you have an Apple Powerbook G4 aluminum as your notebook, this drive doesn't work with it. Apparently, those Powerbooks didn't provide quite enough power on their USB ports to run these. It will "sort of" spin up but never actually mount on the desktop as a drive ready to use.

      I sold my Powerbook G4 15" a while back though, and now use a Macbook Pro, which works with the WD Passport without proble
  • Review flaws (Score:3, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:44PM (#18707149) Homepage
    1. They didn't review Buffalo (which uses Linux for its firmware on some/all of its drives)
    2. They didn't review any NAS drives, which eliminate the need for another computer and are "always on" for WiFi laptops
    3. They didn't need to open the review with excuses for larger hard drives. Parkinson's Law is sufficient for that. 500+ GB hard drives are great for storing a bunch of ripped CDs and DVDs. But we lived for a decade or two without needing to do that. Now that hard drives of that size are available, we want to do that.
  • Hopefully its the brands and not these specific models, as I have Iomega, LaCie, and Western Digital external drives, but in different models. My latest purchase was a 320 GB Iomega, but the 2 LaCie's are pretty new as well.
  • Why should we care about the bundleware backup software?
  • No G-tech ? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Don't look at G-tech because they blow away all of these cheaply made enclosures.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @02:59PM (#18707373) Homepage Journal
    USB+Power enclosures for IDE and SATA drives cost about $25; USB adapters alone cost about $15. Why doesn't a single enclosure for 8 or 12 drives (with appropriate mounting screws to avoid vibration that wears drives), including a USB hub and adapters and a single sufficient powersupply, cost $50, or maybe $100? They seem to cost $300-500.

    Why doesn't an 12 drive enclosure with powersupply, PIII motherboard with nothing but IDE/SATA and Gb-ethernet running Linux/RAID cost under $200?
  • by pammon (831694) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:01PM (#18707397)
    The most interesting aspect of the review is that Firewire outperformed USB for every drive in every aspect of the testing. I guess some things don't change.
  • by Qwavel (733416) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @03:26PM (#18707997)

    As usual, endless details on speed, and next to nothing about noise levels, power usage, and whether they have the ability to spin down when not in use.
  • FreeNAS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by COMON$ (806135) * on Thursday April 12, 2007 @04:03PM (#18708751) Journal
    I have been looking into a nice repository for my house for a while. Even with all the cheap external drives, I still cannot beat the price of buying 4 500GB drives for $150 a piece at http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8 2E16822148136 [newegg.com]. Then plug them into an old box and install Freenas. As a geek it seems to be the way to go unless you need to take the storage with you. Even then I have a VPN but now we are getting more technical than ol mom and pop would enjoy.
  • I got one of these 500 GB hard drives (Cavalry is the brand, I think) and plugged it into my iMac. Now if I try to put my iMac to sleep, it will wake shortly thereafter with a warning about improperly disconnecting a hard drive and how I could lose data. Even unmounting the external drive before putting it to sleep doesn't help, it still gives that error. I've looked around a bit with no luck on figuring out how to stop it doing this. Any suggestions?
  • Ahh, gotta love the fine reporting from Computer World. For example, I'd really like to know why the read speed is higher at the inside of the platter, since the linear velocity of the outside of the platter is much higher and as a result the manufacturer would actually have to go to a certain amount of intentional effort to make the drive read slower there.

    And, as other posters have noted, it's almost always better to buy a drive and an enclosure from a place like Newegg and combine them yourself. I unde
  • by rmdyer (267137) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @04:15PM (#18708969)
    Before you commit to your shiny new USB/Firewire storage device, be sure you test it thoroughly. I've had several devices for whatever reason fail file checksum tests over multi-gigabytes of data. The most likely culprit is the USB interface and the drivers for them. Copy a very large multi-gigabyte tree of files back and fourth several times, checking against the master file checksums (MD5, etc). Also remember, proper checksum'ing requires that you eliminate any cache'ing that the OS may be doing, so unplug the device, then plug it back in, before running the checksum. Checksum'ing is especially important if you've formatted NTFS and the device is USB powered.

    Also, even if you've verified the data is good on your storage device, moving it to another machine and connecting it up may leave you unhappy if the storage interface on the new machine isn't working properly.

    You have been warned.
    • by hguorbray (967940)
      Amen,

      I have had 2 Maxtor external firewire drives die on me -the second containing several years of Digital recordings of various bands I was in.

      It started having trouble copying large files and would sometimes 'dissappear' from the desktop or fail to mount and finally, even though the access lights would come on and the drive would spin up, nothing.....

      That one was an ATA drive in a firewire enclosure and in preparation to sending it somewhere to have disk recovery performed on it I decided to connect it d
    • by inKubus (199753)
      Why would you format it NTFS? If you're doing a backup, use backup software to package and store the ACLs. If you're moving files to other networks (and possibly other GUID space), you might run into problems with the ACL's anyway. At any rate, these drives do not claim to be "enterprise" level by any means. People with a critical business use for portable drives are going to go with hotswap SCSI or SAS drives (or FibreChannel) and not mess with iffy USB/Firewire drivers, cheap drives and bad powersuppl
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Which is why you dont use USB for that. Firewire400 is fantastic for stability and I transfer multi gigabyte over it all the time.

      In fact most video editiors using a MAC will have a stack of firewire drives sitting there for video.

      There is a reason you never see a video editor use usb drives.
    • by Trogre (513942)
      Speaking of which does anyone know of a linux command that will copy AND verify your files?

      cp -v obviously doesn't do it, but something like that really should.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by El_Oscuro (1022477)
        Just use tar. Tar has the -t (test archive) and the -z (compress). Using compression by nature has checksums. After you create your backup using tar -cvzf options, you can test that same archive using the tar -tvzf options. You will definiately know if you get errors.
        • by mennucc1 (568756)

          Just use tar. Tar has the -t (test archive) and the -z (compress). Using compression by nature has checksums.

          When you write to a medium that may fail sometimes in the future, you never want to use compression. There is a good reason for that (and I learnt it the hard way). If you write some gigabytes of data using tar to the medium, and some sectors of it afterwards get damaged.... if you did not use compression, then tar will complain a lot and try to resync and in the end you should only lose some fil

  • Requires a little more upfront investment ($79 PCI card) but it makes a huge world of difference speed wise. USB is on the low-end speed-wise, with Firewire @ 400 or 800 mb/s. e-SATA is 3gb/s. So for the price of an enclosure and an off the shelf SATA drive, you can have a very nice, fast external unit that has the same bandwidth potential as your internal drives.
    • ...given that the actual speed of the data coming off the platters is going to be at best in the neighborhood of 650 Mb/s at the inside of the drive...down to around 300Mb/s at the outside. It's an appreciable improvement over USB, but it loses you portablity, as few computers have eSATA external ports. Hopefully they will become more prevalent in the future, as will faster drives that can utilize the interface.

      That 3Gb/s figure the manufacturers all tout is bullshit.
  • by antdude (79039)
    I noticed Maxtor InTouch external HDD, from a few years ago, had heat problems if using them for hours. The cooling and vents are inefficient. The case get very hot too. Are the newer ones better at staying cool?

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