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Author Topic: External hard drive for laptop  (Read 1580 times)
NigelC
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« on: December 03, 2012, 08:27:50 AM »
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I am likely fairly soon to pension off my desktop (Q6600) and use my laptop only for Lightroom 4 with external screen and keyboard. While it's more up to date than the desktop with an i7 processor and recently upgraded to 24GB RAM (done a a whim as it seems quite cheap right now), weakness of laptop is size of internal HD (500GB 7200). Desktop has 2 x 650GB hard drives in a RAID 0 arrangement. What is best option for external hard drive to use as main storage of data - I thought I'd confine internal HD to programmes, and keep all data on external. Big SSDs are prohibitive in cost so assume USB3 is best option - are some non-solid state external hard drives better than others?
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 09:20:34 AM »
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An external USB3 hard drive is a good idea, assuming your laptop is USB3-capabble. A 1 TB portable drive is only about USD100. It will be small and fast and are powered through the USB cable--no power adapter required. There are a number of good ones on the market. I've used drives from Western Digital, HP and Seagate and they've all performed well.

I use of of these at work and I love it: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=usb+hard+drive
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 09:30:13 AM »
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Whether you use Windows or OS X, Look at one of the configurations of the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 solutions. http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/hard-drives/RAID/Desktop/  

Other folks like the QNAP RAID boxes.

RAID 0 (striping) is an excellent way to make access fast  - and also an excellent way to lose all of your data should one drive in your RAID array crash.

RAID 1 (Mirroring) is slower access than RAID 0 but offers a level of redundancy & safety ( your data is copied onto two drives when it is written to the RAID array) in case a drive crashes. This also menas that if you have 4 2 TB drives you can only use 4TB for capacity.

RAID 5 is more ideal for general use as it combines striping (for speed) with parity checking. This means you can one of the four drives can crash but your data is safely distributed throughout the other three drives. In my hypothetical 4 x 2TB RAID array this also means you have greater capacity than in a RAID 1 set up , 6TB instead of just 4TB.  It is not as fast as RAID ) but a lot more secure (in case you haven't notice, RAID 0 isn't at all safe.) Two warnings about RAID 5: If two drives at once crash your data is hosed; and the closer to full capacity you are in the system the longer the directory file structure rebuild takes.

RAID 10 (also known as RAID 1+0) combines Striping (speed)  and Mirroring (redundancy) which keeps your data safer, but at the price of speed (compared to RAID 0 and RAID 5) and capacity (in the  4 x 2TB hypothetical , only 4TB are used for storage.

One more note: even though RAID 1, 5 & 10 systems have built in redundancy, that is not the same as backup, and you need to back your data to a second (and ideally third) place.   A second (or Third ) RAID array can be part of your back up solution but storing your vital data on a single RAID array is an avoidable  accident waiting to happen.
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Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 09:40:36 AM »
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A redundant RAID array is a good idea for data safety, but it will be cumbersome to carry around with your laptop. You can have the best of both worlds by using a small potable drive and simply backing it up to another external drive nightly. But you do need to be diligent about backing it up.
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