How to select an external hard-drive?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by DaveF, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I need an external USB 2 hard-drive to back-up data before a household move. Any recommendations on selecting one?

    A Seagate 160 GB is on sale at BestBuy for $99.99; its weakness is a 2MB buffer. I expect this would hinder performance for normal read/write access, but will it slow it down for a straight, drive-to-drive copy?

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1124432398244

    Thanks.
     
  2. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Hold out for at least an 8MB cache buffer model, the 2MB cache models are just older hard drives re-packaged, and will be slow in transferring files back-and-forth.
     
  3. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    The cool, small, powerbrick-less combo, but mainly because of pricey big 2.5 inch drive - $ouch:

    Seagate Momentus 160GB 2.5 inch drive + External USB-powered USB case (there are many other small cases like this on Newegg, worth browsing through.)

    The still cool but not quite as cool, not-so-$ouch and more space:

    Nice big 300 gig drive + nice Vantec external enclosure that does both USB2 and Firewire.

    No need to go buy a ready-made enclosure unless you want to, in other words. Pick your own drive with the specs you want and then put it in an enclosure.
     
  4. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

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    Is installing it in a case something that's easy to do for someone only experienced in installing memory & ethernet cards? I'm going to be needing an external drive soon and this sounds like a cheap way to get maximum space, if I can handle it.
     
  5. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    well will you be using it all the time, or just once for the transfer, and occasionally after that? i doubt the 2 mb buffer is THAT bad, if it saves you money, it might not be a bad deal. although i'm not sure what the prices of external hard drives are, a drive with an 8 mb buffer may not be any more expensive.

    CJ
     
  6. Greg*go

    Greg*go Supporting Actor

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    I've installed a laptop drive into an extermal case, it was ridiculously easy. I'd guess this wouldn't be any more difficult.
     
  7. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    It's to be a backup hard-drive. It will be used infrequently, mostly large quantity data copies.

    While the 2MB buffer would slow down "normal" use, with a lot random data access or successive data loads, I would expect the drive to be limited by throughput (not cache) for large data read / writes.

    I've got a $100 budget for this.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    EDIT: I should add this is for a PowerMac (G5), if that makes any difference. I'm not very Mac knowledgeable, but I assume the USB2 is plug-and-play with any external hard-drive, as with a PC.
     
  8. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    I would go with buying the case and hard drive seperately, it is surprisenly easy to do. If you've taken off the side of your case you'll see that the hard drive only has the two cables to connect.

    Or if you go with the 2.5" laptop drive it's only the one connector. A nice thing about the laptop hard drives is that they are usually powered just by the USB port so no external pawer source is needed for them.

    I have yet to run across a computer (I use windows and linux boxes) that doesn't natively recognize the harddrive. It's far less expensive and you can get exactly what you want.

    Best of luck!
     
  9. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    The difference in portability between a 2.5 inch drive case and a 3.5 inch is quite noticeable. Not only is the case much smaller, the larger case also requires a power brick and cables. The 2.5 incher you can pretty much slip into your coat pocket and carry around quite easily.

    As Rob says, putting a drive in an enclosure is ridiculously easy - open case, connect two cables, close case. Case closed. [​IMG]
     
  10. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    If you can open up your case and install a PCI card, then I'd recommend an eSATA setup. It's basically external-SATA, the connector takes up a PCI slot and connects to an available SATA port.

    Much faster than USB2 or Firewire. You'll find more and more drives will be going this route in the future.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817106097
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822148131

    I have an external 400gb Seagate that has usb2.0 + Firewire and it works fien, easy to use, but when I do some heavy transferring it's s-l-o-w. : I just recently got that eSATA setup described above and will be connecting it to my DVR for extra space.
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Good idea. However, this is actually for my fiance, who is out of town; I'm not available to do hardware config for her. I'm advising the product purchase.

    This was a trade-off -- she was intimidated by burning data to DVD [​IMG]
     
  12. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Oh if it's for the little lady, then don't spec out a 2MB cache model for her, she'll hate you for doing so.

    If she can handle the wait for rebates, there's a 250GB external HD on sale for $99.99 after MIR at CompUSA starting on Sunday (tomorrow).
     
  13. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Ah, for the not entirely computer savvy fiancée and you won't be on hand to assemble it... in that case it might be a good idea to go with a ready-made external USB2 drive. You don't get as much choice, but it is literally buy-plug-play.

    PS. Fiancé = A man who is engaged to be married. Fiancée = same thing except a woman this time. I'm gonna go with the assumption you wanted two e's there. [​IMG]

    Newegg external drives at up to $100
     
  14. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    One thing you guys haven't considered yet - auto powerdown! As far as I know, not a single external enclosure case that is purchased separate from the hard drive has this feature - I consider this EXTREMELY important for prolonging hard drive life.

    I've had one hard drive nearly fail on me (it is on its last legs) because it overheated due to the enclosure not supporting auto-powerdown. This cheaply made ADS enclosure had a fan, but the ventilation wasn't very good. If the enclosure could power down the hard drive this would never have happened.

    eSATA enclosures might allow power down through the SATA interface, but none of the USB2/firewire enclosures support this EXCEPT the Maxtor OneTouch series and possibly the Seagate external hard drives.

    Otherwise, you will have to hit the power switch yourself - especially if you have a 7200 RPM hard drive in there.

    The laptop HD enclosures might be okay - the laptop drives may have power down built into them.
     
  15. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Yes, the second 'e' is quite important. [​IMG]

    I'll look into the 250GB from CompUSA.
     

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