2.5" drive upgrade -suggestions?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by macstatic, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. macstatic macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    My wife has a 2.5" external G-drive permanently connected to her iMac as a Time Machine backup drive, but the 320MB is no longer enough, so we're looking to replace it with say a 1TB drive instead.

    I see external drives are quite cheap these days -sometimes maybe even cheaper than internal ones, but then I realized the G-drive enclosure has a Firewire interface (which we use with the iMac) and is probably an advantage over USB 2.0 (there's no USB 3.0 on her 2008 iMac).

    So (assuming the drive inside the G-drive enclosure is a SATA drive, which I'm almost certain it is), which brands/models would you go for when buying a 2.5" internal 1TB drive? Like I said, it's permanently attached to the iMac and is also permanently switched on, so it should be able to handle that (even though I believe OSX does power down drives when they're not used for a while).
  2. Trusteft macrumors 6502


    Nov 5, 2014
    If you are using the drive as a backup device, you don't really have to get a firewire device or a drive for a firewire case, I am pretty sure usb 2.0 (usb 3.0 downgraded to 2.0 as buying a 2.0 would be stupid) is plenty for this job.

    Still, to actually answer your question, I stand by Seagate drives and also have perfect experience with Toshiba and Samsung drives. I assume you are talking about mechanical drives and not SSD.
    I can't talk about model as they change all the time.
    Also, I know I am in the minority, but I have 100% failure rate with WD drives over the last 20 years, so I avoid them.
  3. macstatic, Nov 13, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017

    macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    I should probably stay away from Western Digital drives to be on the safe side then. I've also heard others complain about them, so I guess it's a gamble if you get a working one or not.
    Personally I'm using several WD drives ("green" series) for backup and everyday storage purposes and have had no problems. They're all 3.5" drives though, not 2.5".

    Yes, I'm talking about mechanical hard drives. I'd find it pointless to pay lots of money for a super-fast backup drive that only works in the background. You say I could just as well use USB 2.0 instead of Firewire. The external G-drive already has both USB 2.0 and Firewire (both 400 and 800) so I was thinking backups would take less time compared to USB 2.0). I was thinking of opening up the enclosure and simply replace the 320GB drive with a 1TB drive. That way I could keep using Firewire, but I really don't have any hard evidence on the speed difference.
    (photo taken from here).

    About specific drive model numbers: are there any good review/test sites around for that sort of thing?
  4. Marshall73 macrumors 65816


    Apr 20, 2015
    I stand by seagate drives, a tower of failed ones :)

    Doesn't really matter what drive you get as long as it is not your ONLY backup. Make sure you either have more than a single physical backup of your data or a physical and a cloud backup. Nothing worse than your machine going pop and then discovering that your only backup is also broken.
  5. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    Exactly, Marshall73!

    That's why I've also gotten her another G-tech external portable drive and created a script which automatically backs up the computer whenever it's attached and powered on, then a final message pops up telling the backup is done, the drive can be powered off and disconnected. The idea is to do a weekly backup on that drive, then keep it in a safe place, away from the computer. Just in case of theft, fire or whatever....
    I use Chronosync for that.

    So you've got bad experiences with Seagate drives, and Trusteft likewise with WD. That would leave Toshiba and HGST for the most part. I see Samsung also have a couple, but they're way pricier than the above.
    I think the bottom line regardless what I get is back up, back up and..... back up! On multiple drives.
  6. Trusteft macrumors 6502


    Nov 5, 2014
    Another reason to avoid SSDs for backing up/storage is that they are not reliable if left unpowered for few years. Not really relevant in your wife's case, but it is what it is.

    For speed, don't forget that there are SATA and SATA connections/drives. I II and III. Speed varies. No idea what's inside that G-drive has. Again it shouldn't matter for this particular usage.

    Good review sites, yeah, I don't trust any review site, apart perhaps from hardwareheaven, but that's just me.
    Best thing to do, or at least what I do, check some review sites for sure, but don't rely on them. Just get information and then proceed to customer reviews from sites such as Amazon, newegg etc. Spend time reading and reading different, 100s of reviews. After some time you will realize they are all the same with barely any good information and all of them have at least some very negative reviews about how the drive is the worst thing EVER. Then spend more hours and hours and then realize you will just buy whatever you wanted in the beginning anyway.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 13, 2017 ---
    Funny how that works, isn't it? Seagate are the only drives that have never failed on me since I started using them in the late 80s.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 13, 2017 ---
    One thing I would like to add. What I do for a while now is avoid powered (external power supply) external drives. I know you want an internal drive, I am just adding this bit of info. The external power supply is just another thing that can and most likely go wrong/fail, more than the drive itself. Also extra cable and extra size etc. The last powered ext drive I bought was an 8TB one last year and I don't plan on getting more ever since I started buying 5TB 2.5 drives that require just the USB cable to transfer data and power the drive.
  7. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    But most 2.5" laptop external drives don't need an external power supply as far as I know (we've been using that G-drive for years without any issues, connected just via a Firewire cable to the iMac).
    I personally hate those power "bricks" with all the additional cabling and fuss. I didn't think about the reliability issue of an external power supply, but you're absolutely right. A good reason to avoid them.

    I will of course have to open up the G-drive enclosure to see what's inside (no big deal, just a couple of screws) before buying anything. Good point about checking for SATA I, II and III and of course the RPM speed. I hadn't heard about hardware heaven, so I'll check out that as well.
    Yes, it's funny what you say about spending hours reading reviews (and they all mean the opposite of what the previous review just said), then end up buying what you wanted in the first place :p

    I guess I'll take them all with a grain of salt, read them more as information about the specs (and compatibility with the enclosure and its USB/Firewire-SATA bridge board) and stick with the well known brands (well, some of them anyway... eh... if I can figure out which brand is the "right one" then). Oh, well.. I knew this wasn't going to be easy ;)
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Feb 20, 2009
    For drives, I'd avoid Seagate and WD.
    I'd recommend HGST (Hitachi) or Toshiba.

    Are you going to open the G-drive enclosure and replace the drive?
    Or... are you looking for a SECOND enclosure?

    It's getting hard to find firewire800 enclosures any more.

    If you don't mind using USB2, I'd suggest this:

    Note: the above is a USB-c USB3.1 drive, but it should work just fine with a USB-c/USB-a connecting cable.
    And... you'll have a USB3.1 compatible enclosure for that time in the future when your wife "moves up" from the old iMac to something newer.

    Personal experience:
    I have a slightly older Oyendigital USB3 enclosure, and it's a solid enclosure -- excellent hardware.
  9. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    I'm going to use the same G-drive enclosure as she already has, just swapping the drive.
    A new USB 3 enclosure will just mean more outlay, but if I was to get a new enclosure then USB-3 would of course be the right choice these days.

    So I popped up the drive to look inside and found a Hitachi/HGST Travelstar 5K320 (HTS543232L9A300) and looked up the specs here. It's a SATA 3Gb/s 5400 RPM 320GB drive with a physical height of 9.5mm. I assume I have to look out for the same height and the same (or better SATA specs) and since I'm powering it off the iMac I probably need to figure out how much power I can take from the computer. I found info on this for the USB ports, but not for Firewire. It's an early 2008 iMac (iMac 8,1) 2.4GHz core duo. Does anyone know how much Firewire power it can supply to whatever's connected to it?

    I figure if it can supply enough power I can opt for a 7200 RPM drive (assuming the physical size is the same) because the price for one of those is more or less the same as a replacement 5400 RPM drive.
  10. MSastre, Nov 13, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017

    MSastre macrumors regular


    Aug 18, 2014
    I've also had a Seagate and and couple of WD drives fail on me, but no HGSTs. OWC has some bus powered drive enclosures that feature backwards compatible usb 3 and firewire connections. You can get them with or without the drive inside. You should be able to replace the one in the G-Tech with a 7200rpm drive and I know they work with the enclosures from OWC, which is also a great source for bare drives.
  11. ZapNZs macrumors 68000


    Jan 23, 2017
    That's a solid enclosure - no reason not to reuse it. That enclosure should work with 7200 RPM drives, because HGST sold several 7200 RPM models in the same enclosure (plus IIRC, doesn't FW800 provide dramatically more power than USB 2 or 3 over a type-A-to-mini or micro connector?)

    I'm a fan of HGST and their TravelStar line I feel is well-proven. However, I've recently been using the Western Digital WD10JPLX primarily because it comes with a 5 year warranty, where as most others are only 2-3 years, and it's not really priced all that differently from comparative 7200 RPM HDDs with shorter warranty periods.
  12. HDFan macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2007
    For selecting drives you might want to check the latest Backblaze failure rate report:


    There are numerous discussions about whether this data suggests possible failure rates in a home environment, but it is the only large scale disk failure analysis that I know.

    Yes, for Time Machine backups I wouldn't worry about the speed of the disk. Although I vaguely remember just reading a review of a drive that was so slow that it was almost unusable.

    I am not sure why you want to use the current enclosure when you can buy a 2 TB drive for $69.99 and a 4 TB for $109.99 at Costco both with enclosure:



    That way you have warranty coverage both for the drive and enclosure, assuming that their interface meets your needs.

    Having an an extended warranty is definitely helpful, and may justify the additional cost. It's a trade-off between the initial higher cost vs lower cost and just replacing the drive when it fails. Backblaze I believe has chosen the lower cost choice, as they generally don't purchase the higher priced enterprise drives. I purchased a very expensive helium drive from HGST and it failed. Got a free replacement, but won't do that again.
  13. kohlson macrumors 6502a

    Apr 23, 2010
    Just to clarify, HGST is a wholly-owned subsidiary of WD. FWIW I've used a 1TB WD 2.5 (USB3) for 3 years now. It's often banging around in my backpack. It was $50 at B&H on a Black Friday deal.
  14. ZapNZs macrumors 68000


    Jan 23, 2017
    I wouldnt personally pay much more for a longer warranty, but since its pricing is relatively consistent with comparable Seagate and HGST models, I figure I might as well take the extra two years given that means the drive should be under warranty for its entire lifespan. That said I use the HGST Ultrastars more than anything else, and, as you noted, even they sometimes fail prematurely (although they are generally consistent performers, for the most part, IMO).
  15. macstatic, Nov 19, 2017 at 12:48 PM
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017 at 7:58 AM

    macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    HDFan makes a good point about getting an external 2.5" drive which makes more sense pricewise. But with this particular Mac we're talking USB 2.0, so Firewire 800 surely would be considerably faster and not keep Time Machine running endlessly because of the rather slow speed. I've personally bought an external 2.5" Seagate USB 3.0 drive, but that was for a Macbook Pro which actually has USB 3.0 ports, so another story entirely.

    So a 5400 or 7200 RPM drive wouldn't make much difference for TM backups in terms for each hourly backup to complete? It occured to me that perhaps a 7200 RPM drive would make more noise than a 5400 type, which in the long run will make a difference. I should probably compare spec sheets for this, but can anyone confirm or deny this?

    Does anyone have the specifics on how many mA a Firewire port on this particular iMac (early 2008 iMac (iMac 8,1) 2.4GHz core duo) can supply for a 2.5" external drive which doesn't have its own power supply?

    UPDATE: Found it! By going to the above iMac 8,1 link I found out that I could click on "USB ports/Firewire ports" where it says the two Firewire ports can supply 7W each (!!!???):
    7W sounds like an awful lot. Can someone confirm that this is correct or not?

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