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Data Storage Hardware

A Look at Excessive Portable Storage 101

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the makes-my-keys-really-hard-to-carry-around dept.
Tom's Hardware has an interesting look at portable storage devices that fall a little outside of the normal bell curve. The reviewed items include Buffalo's all-flash portable storage drive, Chaintech's flash SSD w/ an additional USB port, and LaCie's state-of-the-art RAID drive based on two 2.5" drives. LaCie's drive seemed to come out on top for usability and performance with the main downside being the $600 pricetag and lack of adequate backup software, but all had interesting advantages.
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A Look at Excessive Portable Storage

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  • This is a wet dream for photographers and film makers!
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "This is a wet dream for photographers and film makers!"

      Bulk pron storage, gotta love it!

  • Bell curve (Score:1, Troll)

    by Hognoxious (631665)
    Bell curve, eh. So what attribute are we plotting the distribution of? Oh that's right, it's a load of crap.
    • Bell curve, eh. So what attribute are we plotting the distribution of? Oh that's right, it's a load of crap.

      It's a known fact that black drives are "smarter" than drives of other colors. Drives made in Asia are smarter than drives made in the Americas or in Europe.

      The tests and the subsequent statistics don't lie!

  • itâ(TM)s not possible to make incremental backups, nor to schedule them.

    Yes, I want to buy a 1 TB drive, which cannot make incremental backups. That is quite a ways outside of the "bell curve" as long as by "bell curve" you mean "it has standard features that virtually any useful external storage solution provides".

    • by theJML (911853) on Friday March 20, 2009 @05:36PM (#27274325) Homepage

      tar, cpio, and dump do incremental backups... and they're easily scheduled with cron jobs...

      Just saying...

      • by Gat0r30y (957941)
        You have a valid point, but still most every other external drive solution comes with backup software that includes incremental backup.
      • by richlv (778496)

        "lack of adequate backup software" - really ?
        i applaud lacie for not spending their money on another crappy software that will become obsolete in few years. backup software, especially consumer level, has become a commodity quite some time ago.
        i like lacie as a company so far, they even were listed as a supporter of k3b some time ago - wondering why they disappeared ;)
        i have to admit that seeing them listed as the good guys on the k3b page motivated me to purchase overe time 4 (so far) external hdd products

    • by snicho99 (984884)
      Hrmm.. Yes I want to buy a 1TB drive because I'm about to capture 3 hours of HD footage for a project I'm working on. In fact I want to buy several. Most of the files going on to a disk like that are going to be tens of gigabytes, write once, read many. Incremental backup is so far from my mind it doesn't even register. Besides, the operating system supplies those tools anyway.(rsync rdiff - or even just "time machine"). To be honest in almost every other post production or graphic design studio that I've
  • G-raid mini (Score:4, Informative)

    by Space cowboy (13680) * on Friday March 20, 2009 @03:34PM (#27272599) Journal

    I've been using a G-RAID mini [g-raid.com] for a year or so. The drive I have is only 500GB, but it's fast (for a portable drive) because of the RAID.

    There's a 1TB drive coming out soon - see the 'mini-2', which looks to be $699 before any discount (I got ~25% on the mini IIRC).

    G-Raid is also a *lot* more reliable than Lacie, in my experience but I guess YMMV, one view is not statistically relevant etc. etc.

    Simon

    • I spec'd out a external RAID solution for backups the other week. Several two-drive setups with eSATA are available for less than $200 on Newegg (no drives included). So for $500 dollars I could put together 1.5 Terabytes of mirrored storage (3 Terabytes striped). There are cheaper JBOD setups, but they aren't what I'm looking for.

      I wound up buying a simple 1 Terabyte drive + enclosure instead for $100.
      • by Zerth (26112)

        I just got a Storbox [geeks.com]5 bay eSATA box(bring your own drives) for $200, so-so 2 port esata RAID card included.

        I don't particularly trust the hardware raid card, but I wasn't planning on using the computer for anything else, so I've got it softraided. The fans are damn noisy, though.

        • I don't particularly trust the hardware raid card ...

          Finally, some common sense. Even if you could trust the RAID card and the rest of the circuitry, your data, if stored in anything other than a simple mirror configuration, is tied to the unit. No different than a RAID card of course.

          These units do seeem to fill a largely unmet need, and while they offer lots in the area of convenience, I'd suggest they're a poor bargain given the uncertainties and potential for losing one's data. Too bad really. Build

          • by Zerth (26112)

            Don't get me wrong, the box itself seems decent, other than the cheap noisy fans. Takes up a lot less space & wattage than a barebones ITX just for it.

            I've just heard enough horror stories of having to find the exact same build/firmware combo if the card should go and it was "bundled"(literally, stuffed under the styrofoam) for the same price I've seen other places selling just the enclosure. If I needed hardware raid performance instead of just more drive bays, I'd use a card I could buy locally that c

  • I lug an Acer netbook around - the files I am most likely to need are on it, and ALL my files are accessible from it as I use online backup (Jungledisk). I keep a USB key to get files between systems in a hurry. Why copy everything in a world where in the circles people like us inhabit, connectivity is almost-ubiquitous?
    • Some people maybe have to back up rather large sets of data. Piles of CAD drawings, raw video edits, renders... Some stuff is too large or numerous to fit on just a laptop, USB key, or online storage.

      Just my guess. I can't imagine how much it would suck to try to do an online backup of 500GB.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Some stuff is too large or numerous to fit on just a laptop

        You can get half-terabyte laptop drives for just over $100 each, and 17" or larger laptops can take 2 drives. What files are you using that take up more than a terabyte?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Some of us have relatives that live in the countryside (no starbucks wireless access points) and who have locked down wired internet connections (only their company PC can get access to the internet). :-(

  • by LowlyWorm (966676) on Friday March 20, 2009 @03:51PM (#27272881) Homepage
    I don't think software requirements are keeping up with the newer hardware. True, I am writing this from FireFox installed on my flash drive but there is often very little consideration by many software developers for the needs of the portable software market. So much of it expects data on c: or writes to the registry. Since flash memory quality benchmarks are based on number of read/writes before failure it will be interesting to see how the newer USB hardware will stand up particularly with applications such as browsers and email that do extensive read/write operations.
    • by jvin248 (1147821)
      don't worry about c: and registers... install one of many versions of Linux to your flash drive and have a full portable OS and software like open office and firefox. leave a portion of the drive open to save files and settings. Or get fancy and put in persistence.
      • by LowlyWorm (966676)
        I would but I read somewhere that flipping the removable bit on San Disk flash drives is unpredictable (it could ruin them).
        • What exactly are you referring to? What "removable bit"?
          • by LowlyWorm (966676)
            Older computers like mine will not boot from flash drives. One way around this is flipping the removable bit. This bit tells the OS that the drive is removable. Once the bit is flipped the OS treats the drive as non-removable so it can boot from it at start up. This can be done via software.
    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      I agree about having portable software, which is why I love checking out the portable freeware collection [portablefreeware.com] since they always seems to have something new. Being in PC repair I have also found having the computer repair utility toolkit [whereweget.com] on a flash to be invaluable.

      Now as for how many read/writes you are going to get with your apps, why use your main drive for apps? When there is places like surplus computers [surpluscomputers.com] where you can pick up multipacks of sticks so cheap, and the things are so small on your keyring, it jus

      • by LowlyWorm (966676)
        I already subscribe to the Portable Freeware Collection newsletter. Another good resource is Portable Apps [portableapps.com]. They offer lots of open source programs via SourecForge. The Foxmarks plug-in for FF is good for updating bookmarks too.
  • by blcamp (211756) on Friday March 20, 2009 @03:57PM (#27272967) Homepage

    There's no such thing.

    • by lofoforabr (751004) on Friday March 20, 2009 @04:11PM (#27273175) Homepage

      There's no such thing.

      That's something I learned during my years with computers. Everytime I get my hands on storage I'll "never be able to fill", I usually find that my definition of "never" is not what we see in dictionaries :)

      • by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday March 20, 2009 @04:30PM (#27273475) Homepage

        Yeah, "hours of uncompressed 1080p video" really is the most important storage metric now, and there are no products which provide enough of that for any conceivable scenario.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mdf356 (774923)

          If the internets tell me right, uncompressed 1080p uses about 5GB/s of video, so 18TB per hour.

          A 3 node Isilon IQ 36NL cluster would therefore have enough storage for 4.8 hours of such video at 80% usage. And that's the smallest cluster you could get; a 144 node cluster of those bad boys would store over 230 hours (at 80% usage). Admittedly, 230 hours probably isn't enough for someone.

          (Yeah, I'm pimping my company's products; I just want to point out that there does exist something that can store hours of

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Narnie (1349029)

        Everytime I get my hands on storage I'll "never be able to fill", I usually find that my definition of "never" is not what we see in dictionaries :)

        I tried to explain my definition of "never" to my ex-gf in regards to storage/cheating-on-gf. She wasn't too happy about the 3-4 month time frame.

    • by pmarini (989354)
      in the early 90s a professor at the University where I was studying asked his class to write an essay on whether 1TB would be enough to store the entire collection of written publications for the foreseeable future...
      granted: the w.w.web had not been invented yet and neither was the DVD so if "publications" would have stuck to plain text that could have been acceptable... but the advent of digital cameras, music and film collections (Netflix, LoveFilm, ...) and He knows what the future has for us, I guess
  • You say that and I think of a C-5A Galaxy full of 2TB drives...

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Google? Is that you?

    • by Pope (17780)

      Great bandwidth, horrible latency.

    • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Friday March 20, 2009 @04:34PM (#27273533)

      1 WD Caviar 2TB internal hard drive: 0.389809 liters, or ~5TB/liter.

      A C5 Galaxy cargo hold is 1,042,304.22 liters ... aka 813 petabytes.
      The plane travels 518 MPH. That's NY to LA in 5.4 hours ... or about 2Pbits/sec.
      Now THAT'S bandwidth!

      • once you consider the time to clear airport security and sort/hook up all those disks, I bet the BW is closer to 100T/s with 6+ hours latency. Damn, but that's a lot of porn.
      • by gregorio (520049) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:46PM (#27275559)

        1 WD Caviar 2TB internal hard drive: 0.389809 liters, or ~5TB/liter. A C5 Galaxy cargo hold is 1,042,304.22 liters ... aka 813 petabytes. The plane travels 518 MPH. That's NY to LA in 5.4 hours ... or about 2Pbits/sec. Now THAT'S bandwidth!

        The bandwidth will never be larger than half the rated speed of a single drive * the number of drives being read in parallel. Why? Because you have to write TO the drives before departure and read FROM the drives after arrival.

        • you have to write TO the drives before departure and read FROM the drives after arrival.

          Not if you invent time travel first! Anyone know how many litres the TARDIS holds?

      • by Alan426 (962302)
        At $10,000/hour operating costs, that's only $0.064 (USD) per terrabyte. Not bad.
      • by haploc (57693)

        You got an RFC for that?

  • Drink it down, let it circulate, comes back out none too different. Guess I'll be using budweiser as the base then.

  • You mean the new distribution recently discovered by the department of redundancy department?
  • Considering how much flash memory costs both in its usb-key version and the various cards, the only real reason I can see for considering the devices mentioned here would be transfer speed. If all you have to work with is USB2, I'd just "break it up" into 2 cards/keys (which, in the case of 64Gb or less, you can do).

    What I really see appealing about these, however, is the ability to install portable apps that actually take up significant amounts of space. If you're hooking it up using Firewire or SATA t
    • by Krishnoid (984597) *

      If all you have to work with is USB2, I'd just "break it up" into 2 cards/keys (which, in the case of 64Gb or less, you can do).

      I've wondered why flash drive manufacturers don't RAID two chips into one thumb-drive for performance. Corsair and others have flash drives with 30MB/s read speed; RAIDing two together in one device would provide 60MB/s, USB2's maximum theoretical performance, wouldn't it?

    • by tepples (727027)

      You can carry a ton of compilers/frameworks/parsers, along with libraries (including their sources), and have your choice of IDEs and helper programs installed all in one place.

      Provided that 1. they're made available in portable versions, 2. they're made available for all operating systems installed on PCs that you plan to use, and 3. the PCs that you plan to use don't have USB mounted noexec.

      • I was referring to situations in which you have reasonable access and the OS is known in advance. Also, I wouldn't do this at all with USB, I don't really think it's sufficient when you're using part of the drive you're executing programs from as scratch space for the IDE/compiler, which is probably what you would do in this situation. I pointed out SATA/Firewire for something like this.

        As for the programs, you're right, this wouldn't work with Visual Studio. But the program doesn't have to be "portable
  • If you want a 1TB external drive, you can get an external 3.5" drive @ $100 that is faster for about $500 less than the LaCie @$599 -- or you could get 6 of them for the same price.

    They both require an external power-adapter and both are about the same size (LaCie has two 2.5" drives which ends up about the same size and weight as a single 3.5" drive).
  • how funny, I just bought http://www.addonics.com/products/enclosures/AE25RDESU.asp [addonics.com] (build-in raid hardware support) and 2x 500gb seagate 5400.6 disk to make my own portable device for less than 400$ canadian, tax and shipping included, lot cheaper than the Lacie one! I will receive everything next Monday so I could do my own test and I will compare them. I never looked for pre-build one before doing my search.
  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday March 20, 2009 @05:58PM (#27274561)

    Who in the world is this LaCie external drive made for? It has 2 500GB drives included, which can be run as RAID 0 or RAID 1. For the $600 price tag, I could purchase 5-6 external 1TB drives.

    These things are most likely being used to store music and videos. I almost feel bad for all the people who buy one of these, set it to RAID 0, and then cry in a year or two when one of the drives die and they lose their data. If they had used the money to purchase backup drives instead, they would be fine.

    The only possible advantage is speed, but the speed just isn't needed except for special applications, in which case it would be better to simply build a computer.

    Here's the craziest thing about the $600 price tag - I could build an entire new computer running Linux, with a software RAID setup and twice the storage, for less money.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Space cowboy (13680) *

      And if you use it like I use my G-Raid-mini, taking it with you as the storage for your portable when on photography trips, you'd be the one with the backache, and I'd be strolling around with .5T in my jacket pocket.

      Same old fallacy: Just because *I* can't use it means that *you* can't use it. Just not true...

      Simon

      • by rusl (1255318)

        Nonsense, Netbooks are cheep and putting a 320GB 2.5" in them is standard, in a few months 500GB will be just as cheap... And with a netbook you have the speed of the mainboard sata rather than usb or enchanced usb... plus you got the system already running so you don't need to setup the computer to use the data. I guess there might not be room for RAID in a tiny netbook but... I just lost 800GB due to RAID problems, external backup is what you need not redundant problems.

        • Are you fecking serious ? That's not even wrong!

          How does using a netbook help me store huge quantities of large RAW images when using Aperture ? Are you seriously suggesting I use a networked filesystem, or something ? If you are, I'm speechless.

          Even if it weren't a stupid idea, using *one* drive (and an internal one at that!) is an amateur's mistake. You copy the photos off the card simultaneously to at least two hard drives (that's two mini-G's, not one mini-G with two disks inside). You burn the images t

          • by rusl (1255318)

            I think you just proved the point that what you're talking about is a pretty esoteric specialised application - not the general use storage system that the article is talking about.

            For most people's usage having a tiny portable computer with the tiny portable drive (and 500GB isn't a big deal these days) is probably more convenient.

            The majority of "Photographers" are posting their shots on flickr or something like that anyway.

            Sounds like you want specialised (Some say overpriced) professional equipment.

            Wiki

            • I think you just proved the point that you didn't read my parent's post... I was originally responding to:

              Who in the world is this LaCie external drive made for?

              As for your comparison

              • The G-Raid mini isn't Apple-specific. The device has usb-2 as well as firewire 4/800 ports.
              • The one you suggest is 9.5" x 6" x 3" (compared to 5.875" x 3.25" x 1.5") or ~6x as bulky
              • Yours is not bus-powered, so I can't take it into the field. Not many AC power-points halfway up a volcano when you need to clear space on the CF
              • by rusl (1255318)

                Relax, I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm saying your usage is atypical because not very many people are covering the Beijing Olympics or have the costs of hardware is "lost in the noise." You're right that you answered the original post of who uses it. I'm saying that lots of people wouldn't.

                Anyway, re-reading the thread you are continuing to argue your original point about "Just because *I* can't use it means that *you* can't use it. " Which I was never disputing (because it seems to be a self evident maxim

  • Come on, I can't be the only person who thought the image on the first page had a built in pencil sharpener.
  • Will any of these drives run as network attached storage? If so can they run OpenBSD?

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