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Author Topic: External Hard Drive Options  (Read 19758 times)
mr.dude
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« on: June 20, 2006, 08:08:13 AM »
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I'm looking for some advice concerning an external hard drive purchase. I don't have any in-depth knowledge in this area and there are many choices, so I quite a bit confused. I'm looking for an external hard drive in the 300-400gb range, preferably 400gb. It will recieve regular use for long periods of time (8-10 hours), and not simply serve as backup. Can anyone give any product suggestions, things to look out for, or general explanations? I also heard that I can buy a standard hard drive and use a kit to convert it to an external for little cost. Can anyone give suggestions for this as well? I don't mind using USB2 over firewire if the cost difference is substantial.

Thanks very much
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2006, 10:06:01 AM »
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http://theonlinephotographer.blogspot.com

Somewhere on there he recommends a couple of devices.
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Gabe
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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2006, 10:55:11 AM »
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I will recommend against the Lacie Bigger Disk Extreme, if it ever becomes one of the models you're looking at.

It has an extremely noisy cooling fan that cycles quite frequently.. it's very loud, and very high-pitched, which makes it completely impossible to ignore. It is by far the most intrusive fan on any piece of equipment I own short of the vacuum-cleaner (and even that has some low-power settings that are more pleasant   ).

Otherwise, the drive seems to work as advertised, but I wish even ONE review had mentioned the #@%*$@ fan.


Just something to keep in mind..
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narikin
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2006, 11:35:05 AM »
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Avoid LaCie products - nice shiny designer cases but housing the cheapest drives they can buy and the failure rate is extremely high. not nice.

Seagate seem to have the highest reliability rating, as do Western Digital.
buy one of those two brands, and you increase your chances of having a long stable life to your drive.
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boku
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2006, 12:13:10 PM »
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Avoid LaCie products - nice shiny designer cases but housing the cheapest drives they can buy and the failure rate is extremely high. not nice.

Seagate seem to have the highest reliability rating, as do Western Digital.
buy one of those two brands, and you increase your chances of having a long stable life to your drive.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=68765\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Interesting - I have 5 LaCie externals. They all report either having WD or Seagate drives mounted inside.

The only drive I've had fail in the last 5 years was my Seagate external, twice the price of LaCies. The firewire port went dead, not the drive.

I am currently running a Buffalo Terastation NAS. It's so-so. You get what you pay for.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2006, 12:14:40 PM by boku » Logged

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DiaAzul
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2006, 04:39:39 PM »
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I don't mind using USB2 over firewire if the cost difference is substantial.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=68625\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Best to start from basics...

It is either USB2 or Firewire - both are used to connect two devices together so that information can be passed backwards and forewards. Firewire permits either end of the connection to be a master, whereas USB2 has a master and a slave which cannot be interchanged. Without going to into technical details, for most users the differences between the two are negligable.

Next item on the list - how are hard drives connected to the mainboard in the computer? Historically this has been using a parallel connection (PATA), however, more recently the SATA standard has become more common. The reason being that there are fewer wires making cable management simpler. An extension of SATA is eSATA which enables hard drives to be located outside of the computer case without needing to use USB2 or Firewire connections (the advantage here is that the fewer protocol conversions the less chips required and also the quicker data can be transfered).

Connectivity to the actual hard disk is using either PATA or SATA (and SCSI - but that is less relevant these days). The disk itself contains the rotating platter(s) and heads to read the data, plus associated logic so that the disk drive nows where to write and read data. Better drives typically have higher rotational speed  plus onbaord cache memory (8Mbytes is good) to make transfer of data more efficient and quicker - however, this does come at the expense of cost, heat and power consumption.

A very simple external hard drive is just a hard disk in an enclosure with a power supply and some chips to convert SATA to usB2/Firewire. This is just a convenient method of locating the hard drive external to the computer and providing simple connectivity.

Moving beyond the simple hard drive then we move into the category of storage systems. This is a box with a number of hard disks with some computer logic placed at the front end to improve the reliabilty, speed and/or usability of the storage. Without going into the details, a storage system uses its internal logic to increase the reliability of the storage by spreading the data across a number of disks in a redundant fashion. It can also add additional featuers such as the ability to create network drives with user or folder based disk quotas so that one individual cannot use all the space on the disk.

What I ultimately want to get to is that the hard disk market is a commodity market - you will end up paying for what you get, or getting what you pay for. There is little practical difference between USB2/Fireware for connectivity or between individual disk manufacturers. A disk is an item with a limited life and will fail at some point (whether today, tommorow, or next week). For each manufacturer you will find someone with a horror story, or others claiming that a certain manufacturer has the most reliable equipment. The only way to be really sure is to use a storage system with redundant array of disks and daily backups of the storage system (one of the companies I worked for experienced failure of the raid controller which wiped out all data on the redundant disks!! do not assume that raid will totally protect your data).

I hope that helps. The main rule with storage is that paranoia rules - at some point in time something will fail, and if you are really paranoid then the backups are also likely to be unreadable as well. The skill is working out where to balance the cost of backups of backups against the value of the data that you are protecting.
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2006, 04:48:55 PM »
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Interesting - I have 5 LaCie externals. They all report either having WD or Seagate drives mounted inside.

The only drive I've had fail in the last 5 years was my Seagate external, twice the price of LaCies. The firewire port went dead, not the drive.

I am currently running a Buffalo Terastation NAS. It's so-so. You get what you pay for.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=68770\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I tried a Lacie 500 GB   It was replaced and failed again.  I corresponded with a well known bird photographer who said he had several Lacie Drives crash.

I still have one but certainly back up on other drives. (Maxell)  
I would think the smaller externals might be more dependable?

FYI
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luong
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2006, 05:54:17 PM »
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I recommend the Venus dual SATA/USB2 external enclosure.  It has a large and silent fan, is extremely easy to assemble, and costs only $50.  Add a 400GB SATA drive, and you'll get a nicer and less expensive external unit than those that come pre-assembled.  SATA is the future of storage, and USB2 is supported by almost all current computers. Since I own more than 20 HDDs, I have tried quite a few. As it has been said, buy two of them, and do regular backups.
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mr.dude
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« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2006, 07:45:12 AM »
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wow, thanks everyone .  i'll check out that Venus external enclosure.
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AdrianW
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« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2006, 07:01:04 PM »
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wow, thanks everyone :).  i'll check out that Venus external enclosure.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=68963\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Just remember that if you do decide to buy two drives, it's a good idea to make sure they're different models and ideally different manufacturers. Sometimes poor designs get through, and when they're bad, they can be very very bad.

When they first came out we had five IBM (now HGST) Deskstar 60GXP 46.1Gb drives fail in less than two months. At one point they were actually failing faster than we could RMA them!

Generally speaking I'm a little wary of the very largest drives on the market, since they're pushing the areal density envelope - if you're pushing the envelope, there's more chance of a paper cut ;)
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mr.dude
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2006, 07:07:56 PM »
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okay so i FINALLY got down to shopping for a hard drive and came down to this:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller...oughType=search

i can actually find it for about $183 from other reputable sites which is less than $20 more than western digital's 400gb internal hard drive.  

so unless there is a problem with this particular product or if there is a better setup for roughly the same price (about $200 range) then this will be what i end up with.   comments anyone?

EDIT:  i also found this product:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?...N82E16822136003            
though i am still confused about SATA after doing some reading about it - don't know if it applies to external use and also don't have a good understanding about external enclosures.  sorry, clueless about this stuff     if anybody can recommend a good enclosure for this hard drive at a moderate cost then i'll probably go with this over the western digital external mentioned at top.  

thanks again for all the guidance  
« Last Edit: July 12, 2006, 07:38:20 PM by mr.dude » Logged
Ed Foster, Jr.
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« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2006, 08:30:21 AM »
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though i am still confused about SATA after doing some reading about it - don't know if it applies to external use and also don't have a good understanding about external enclosures.  sorry, clueless about this stuff     if anybody can recommend a good enclosure for this hard drive at a moderate cost then i'll probably go with this over the western digital external mentioned at top. 

thanks again for all the guidance 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70516\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

md,

SATA is  an inproved interface technology that provides for faster data transmission over typical USB and Firewire connectivity, so for external use SATA should provide better data rates over those type of connections.  For external use you will probably need 3 components - a SATA PCI card, a SATA enclosure, and SATA disk drives (plus cables of course).

Most of the prepackaged external drives provide for USB and/or firewire connectivity and do not provide for scalabiity, so I recently opted to go the multi-enclosure route (for a G5) which with the purchase of a Sonnett Technologies' Temp-X eSata 4+4 8 Port Serial ATA PCI-X Host Controller (about $175.00), a Coolgear 4 bay SATA Vault (about $299.00), and four Seagate 750gb drives.  I have set this up as a mirrored RAID thus providing about 1.4 terabytes of storage.  With the RAID I should have some level of protection from hardware failure.

So, there is no magic to it really.  While there is the initial cost investment over a single external, as storage needs grow I have the ability to "hot swap" drives from the enclosure for archival purposes and expand from that point by only purchasing relatively inexpensive drives.  In addition I can maintain the same speed as the internal SATA drives.

I hope this helps.

Ed
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Ed Foster, Jr.
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Ray
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« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2006, 08:53:47 AM »
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Avoid LaCie products - nice shiny designer cases but housing the cheapest drives they can buy and the failure rate is extremely high. not nice.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It seems that all hard drive manufacturers go through periods of under-spec performance, occasionally. Check out this wb site [a href=\"http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/computer/data-backup.htm]here[/url]
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mr.dude
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2006, 07:23:54 PM »
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md,

SATA is  an inproved interface technology that provides for faster data transmission over typical USB and Firewire connectivity, so for external use SATA should provide better data rates over those type of connections.  For external use you will probably need 3 components - a SATA PCI card, a SATA enclosure, and SATA disk drives (plus cables of course).

Most of the prepackaged external drives provide for USB and/or firewire connectivity and do not provide for scalabiity, so I recently opted to go the multi-enclosure route (for a G5) which with the purchase of a Sonnett Technologies' Temp-X eSata 4+4 8 Port Serial ATA PCI-X Host Controller (about $175.00), a Coolgear 4 bay SATA Vault (about $299.00), and four Seagate 750gb drives.  I have set this up as a mirrored RAID thus providing about 1.4 terabytes of storage.  With the RAID I should have some level of protection from hardware failure.

So, there is no magic to it really.  While there is the initial cost investment over a single external, as storage needs grow I have the ability to "hot swap" drives from the enclosure for archival purposes and expand from that point by only purchasing relatively inexpensive drives.  In addition I can maintain the same speed as the internal SATA drives.

I hope this helps.

Ed
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70566\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

thanks, that does help tremendously
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mikeseb
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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2006, 08:37:23 AM »
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I will recommend against the Lacie Bigger Disk Extreme, if it ever becomes one of the models you're looking at.

It has an extremely noisy cooling fan that cycles quite frequently.. it's very loud, and very high-pitched, which makes it completely impossible to ignore. It is by far the most intrusive fan on any piece of equipment I own short of the vacuum-cleaner (and even that has some low-power settings that are more pleasant   ).

Otherwise, the drive seems to work as advertised, but I wish even ONE review had mentioned the #@%*$@ fan.
Just something to keep in mind..
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=68646\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I had the exact same problem with this drive. Sent it to Oregon TWICE and they finally got it fixed. I've had no problem with the drive's function, but I back up several times to different external drives, and back up again the most critical stuff to DVD's for offsite storage.


Whew. It was much easier just to put the sleeved negatives in a binder!
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michael sebastian
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« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2006, 04:04:17 PM »
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I recommend the Venus dual SATA/USB2 external enclosure.  It has a large and silent fan, is extremely easy to assemble, and costs only $50.  Add a 400GB SATA drive, and you'll get a nicer and less expensive external unit than those that come pre-assembled.  SATA is the future of storage, and USB2 is supported by almost all current computers. Since I own more than 20 HDDs, I have tried quite a few. As it has been said, buy two of them, and do regular backups.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=68924\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think this is an excellent suggestion.  On a Mac you need to add an external SATA port card. But with dual Sata/USB drives, you can use the USB port and then later move on to SATA connection when the port is built into the computers. I also think that SATA is the future for storage.  It has many advantages.

And yes, LaCie drives "blow up". I had two die on me last year, a 160gb and a 500gb models in the fancy cases.  I still have the cases, empty, if someone is interested in reusing them with new drives.  Interestingly, I also have a 1TB LaCie that runs fine.  But, out of prudence, I only turn it on when I need to access what's on it.
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Alain Briot
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alainbriot
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« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2006, 04:05:38 PM »
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Whew. It was much easier just to put the sleeved negatives in a binder!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70999\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, but then film development and printing in the darkroom were a real pain!
« Last Edit: July 18, 2006, 04:06:44 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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Ray
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« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2006, 11:16:05 PM »
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And yes, LaCie drives "blow up". I had two die on me last year, a 160gb and a 500gb models in the fancy cases. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71044\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Alain,
Well, that's encouraging. Last year, you say? So presumably those drives that blew up are a few years old. Any company worth its salt will fix problems like that as soon as they appear, whatever the cause; cheap components, sloppy QC etc.

I've just bought a LaCie 500GB Bigdisk. Is the fancy case a case with a groove on 2 sides? I see no manufacturing date on the case, but the model no. is 300964A and S/N 1021604230622E.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2006, 11:29:36 AM »
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I bought a Maxtor 500GB external thing last night.  ($229 after rebate.)  We'll see how it works.  It was slow last night but I was transfering from one usb disk to another and both were set to "optimize for removal" rather than "optimize for performance".

I have 2 other external disks and 5 in a server in my basement.  Then there is a stack of others that are too small to use.  (If it isn't at least 80GB it isn't in a system.)  Oh, and my main PC has something like 4 disks in it.  Someday my house will be a valuable aluminum mine.

Time to put one of those disks in my Tivo.

Way back when I splurged and got the "big" 360mb disk.  Now I've nearly 2TB in the house.

Where will it end?

Oh, and Sony is now selling their Blu Ray burner.  $750 if you want one.
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Ray
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« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2006, 08:44:14 PM »
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Oh, and Sony is now selling their Blu Ray burner.  $750 if you want one.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71138\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Wow! Point me to the specs. I believe the Blu-ray system can accommodate up to 200GB of data per disc. You can backup 1TB of hard drive data on just 5 Blu-ray discs. $750 is a good starting price for technology like this.
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