Advice: Best enclosures for external HD's?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by OverSpun, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. OverSpun macrumors 6502a

    OverSpun

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    #1
    In years back, I have usually bought external drive kits; but my LaCie 500gb external's fans became fairly noisy after I cleaned it up, and blew out the fans, but it never got better.

    I have a 2.0TB 7200 Seagate Barracuda XT, but I've noticed that it is fairly difficult finding a decent priced enclosure w/ 1394 400/800 plugs, so I can daisy chain them, which was always helpful copying data over.

    I was browsing on newegg- but there were a a bunch enclosures offering USB/1394 400/800, esata, etc, but they have had a ton of awful reviews.

    TIA :D


    p.s. quick question- I thought i read before unless I'm wrong that SMART status does not work with external drives via 1394 or USB, right?
     
  2. Bengt77, Jun 10, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011

    Bengt77 macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #2
  3. THX1139 macrumors 68000

    THX1139

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    #3
    He said decently priced.
     
  4. Peteman100 macrumors 6502

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    #4
    The OWC enclosures are expensive, but they are one of the best. Another good company is Macally.
     
  5. Bengt77 macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #5
    He also said he didn't want an enclosure with bad reviews.
     
  6. OverSpun thread starter macrumors 6502a

    OverSpun

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    #6
    I was actually looking at OWC's enclosures, but they are definitely a bit expensive since they only have a 1 year warranty.

    I actually was thinking about decently priced ones after looking at the OWCs after just last week.

    I bought a macally years back, and it would randomly not loading up, or even showing the enclosure in disk utility, which was strange. Of course, it never ate the drive, but there was something weird when it happened every few months. The last time it did that, I pulled the drive out of it, and I bought a thermaltake max 5G just to copy the data over if my drive was failing.

    Back into the options though- Years back, I had always heard that LaCie was good until it morphed itself into a helicopter.

    I read a lot reviews, but it seems most of the enclosures are just YMMV type. My only issue is that many enclosures between $70-120 and then they break after 2 years, which isn't a very lifetime for them.
     
  7. OverSpun thread starter macrumors 6502a

    OverSpun

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    #7
    A short question where you all purchase your accessories & etc for your macs? I have mainly bought from newegg, but I still havent bought from OWC, or even macmall. Any recommendations besides those? :)
     
  8. Peteman100 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    I'm a fan of Amazon. I also use Newegg a bunch. I guess it depends on what I'm after. OWC is expensive but they carry high quality stuff.
     
  9. OverSpun thread starter macrumors 6502a

    OverSpun

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    #9
    It seems that your order to the same places that I have for a long while. I am likely giving one of the OWC enclosures since they took off $8 from a post towards the top of this page, but they dropped it to $79. That seems a pretty good deal then. thoughts?

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/MEP944FW8EU2/
     
  10. Bengt77 macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #10
    That's a pretty darn good price indeed! Did you get it? If so, how do you like it? By the way, I got my dual enclosure nearly three years ago and it's still running perfectly trouble-free.
     
  11. Tydog07 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    $80 just for an enclosure seems kind of expensive, although I haven't done terribly extensive research, where could I find a cheaper FW800 enclosure or drive? I wouldn't mind sticking in a drive myself, but I want my total cost to be around $100 for about 500-1000GB.
     
  12. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Firewire enclosures are more expensive than USB. You can find FW400 enclosires for ~$30. FW800 moves it up closer to $50, and the ones that I found quickly only have a single FW800 port - meaning it has to be the last device in the chain if you are going to Daisy chain it. By the way, the less expensive enclosures also tend to be 2.5", which will kick up the price of the drive itself (per GB).

    just search for "Firewire 800 enclosure" - you'll get hits for Amazon, Newegg and a bunch of vendors you've never heard of...
     
  13. Tydog07 macrumors 6502

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    #13
    How fast is FW400 in comparison to USB 2.0 and FW800, I have trouble finding data that matches on the internet. And why would I ever need to daisy chain them? What could I be moving simultaneously on my MBP?
     
  14. Bengt77, Jul 2, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011

    Bengt77 macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #14
    Here are some speed comparisons:

    FireWire vs USB: Which is faster? (Macworld)
    FireWire vs. USB 2.0 (CWOL.COM)
    USB 2.0 versus FireWire (Bare Feats)
    USB 2.0 vs. FireWire (iXBT Labs)
    USB 2.0 VS Firewire 400 (YouTube)

    The conclusion in all these tests is that while the theoretical maximum throughput of USB 2.0 is faster than that of FireWire 400, the latter outperforms the former in nearly all tests. This has much to do with the fact that for a FireWire connection, no CPU cycles are used. FireWire is a direct connection, as opposed to USB. Needless to say, FireWire 800 is even faster. Not 100% faster than FW400, but a lot faster nonetheless. (Roughly about 50% faster in some tests.)

    So for speedy throughput FireWire is the way to go. Although for the occasional backup USB 2.0 is fine, of course. But if you need a drive for constant access for – say – video editing, you'll definitely want FireWire.
     
  15. OverSpun thread starter macrumors 6502a

    OverSpun

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    #15
    It did look pretty dang with given that discount on OWC, but I just finally ordered it a couple days back, and I'll update the thread until I assemble it with my drive (which is sleeping in a drawer until next week. ;) )

    Thats very difficult building a decent one ~$100. Perhaps, you could buy a cheap 500gb drive + a cheap enclosure (such the Macally FW400 which theyre POSs and mine totally died. Sure, theyre only $40, but Its not worth bothering with it.)

    See, my point making my own enclosure+drive since I had awful issues with my 500gb external drive, and it sounded like a helicopter, and I decided it was better researching for the best possible enclosure reviews + the drives, and I do not want data loss, and I didnt want a noisy fan, or anything. Hope this thread helps you, like me since I've been tired of terrible setups before. Last thing- Most times, the cheapest parts never last unless youre interested buying for quality that'll last. This is why I bought OWC's this time, so it seems that the enclosures can be repaired, but I'll know more until it shows up to my house.

    Yup, thats exactly what I saw vendors that I NEVER heard of or even the products, so I ditched that plan. I'm even frustrated with the awful CS that Macally offers and they respond emails after weeks later, or never respond until I kept sending them again, and now they totally ignore me now. I wont be a macally customer, again.

    I daisychained mine many times, and it helped a lot, and thats mainly it for me.

    This is very helpful for me, too, since I always thought FW was way faster than USB2.0. Thanks. I always preferred FW400/FW800 so I could daisy chain when I bought a new/bigger drive, and, I suppose I could tap (only 2) on my UMBP, but I still need another enclosure, but I don't know if I want to spend $160 on enclosures if I bought 2 OWC enclosures. I definitely needed one for now.

    With given- do you have any recommendations for enclosures that you've used/read about?
     
  16. FredTheDeadHead macrumors member

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    #16
    In the last few weeks, I have bought three different 3 1/2" drive external HD cases, and all had firewire. A OWC Mercury Elite, a MacAlly, and and an Acomdata.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/MEFW924AL1K/

    http://www.amazon.com/Macally-G-S35...NAMO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1309652940&sr=8-2

    http://www.amazon.com/Acomdata-Fire...3QCU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1309652770&sr=8-3

    I actually got my AcomData case from Frys for less than is shown at Amazon.

    First of all, a warning. None of these cases work with 3 Tb drives. I tried. Getting a 3 Tb external was the main reason for buying these cases. Even though OWC sells an external HD with a 3 Tb drive, the case does not support it. So at the moment, 3 Tb drives are in uncharted territory for case vendors.

    What it comes down to if that you get what you pay for. It costs more, but the quality of the OWC is much better than the others. You also get real (and good!) tech support from OWC. Plus, OWC is a 'Mac only' vendor, so if they sell it, it has been confirmed to work with Macs.

    If you had to get one of the cheaper ones, I would go with the MacAlly, it seems to be somewhat better quality than the AcomData. This was the first 3 1/2" case that I had bought from MacAlly, but I have bought 3 or 4 of their 2 1/2" cases, and they have worked well.

    Just FYI, the same OWC external cases come with a three year warranty, IF you buy a complete external hard drive from them. They say that they only lower the warranty on the 0 Gb enclosures because they have no control over the hard drives that you use. Yeah, kind of a weird policy, but I'm sure that they have their reasons.
     
  17. Tydog07 macrumors 6502

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    #17


    It's interesting to see the the Macally drive received over 100 reviews and received about 4 stars. Just from the pictures alone, it does look better than the other low priced enclosure, did you ever have problems with noise? Will I save money by purchasing an all in one unit?
     
  18. FredTheDeadHead macrumors member

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    #18
    None of these cases have a fan in them (unfortunately), so any noise would most likely be from the hard drive that you put in them. I did not notice any noise from it when I was using it, but at the moment, it is the one case that doesn't have a drive in it. Others have reported problems with MacAlly support, but I have never needed it.

    As for prices, that would totally depend on how cheaply you can get hard drives. With some careful shopping, you can do quite well. I often get mine from Frys sales, or NewEgg, or sometimes Amazon. Whatever is the cheapest on a quality drive.

    If you are willing to settle for USB interfaces only, you can get 'ready to use' external drives quite cheaply online or from the warehouse stores. For example, the current Frys ad has a WD 2.5 Gig external USB for $100.

    I sure hope that someone comes out with a (reasonably priced) Thunderbolt to USB-3 adapter real soon.....
     
  19. OverSpun, Jul 2, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011

    OverSpun thread starter macrumors 6502a

    OverSpun

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    #19
    ^^^ I had this one that you bought and it totally died after roughly 1-1.5 years.

    Of course, it is fanless, but the FW400 ports felt a bit loose. I bought it because it looked cool, but wasn't worth the aesthetics. Plus, the stand(s) for it weren't good, and the minimal hard drive vibrations caused the whole enclosure even more than I expected.

    I ended have to swap the drive into another enclosure to figure if my drive failed, or if it was the enclosure.

    Macally had awful CS and they ignored my emails after 2-3 weeks until I finally got one, and they ignored my response. I'd recommend returning it.


    edit: After reading the 1 star reviews on amazon for that enclosure I had which is likely about its power since the button would pulse that looked that it was having problems. I was just afraid if it ate the whole disc, and I had a 1.5TB in it, but its too much data to lose. I'm lucky that the drive works. =/
     
  20. Tydog07 macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Well I know how to find the hard drive itself easily enough, but finding the FW800 enclosure to go with it will be tough, is there a bare way I can do it with a Sata to FW800 cable or something to the like, I know it will be ghetto, but I won't be using the drive all that often.

    I just realized that my 2011 MBP won't accept FW400 ports, so I'm stuck with USB 2.0 unless I can find a cheap enclosure for FW800.
     
  21. Jolly Jimmy macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

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    #21
    FW800 and FW400 are compatible with each other. You just need the correct cable/adapter.
     
  22. FredTheDeadHead macrumors member

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    #22
    >>>Well I know how to find the hard drive itself easily enough, but finding the FW800 enclosure to go with it will be tough, is there a bare way I can do it with a Sata to FW800 cable or something to the like, I know it will be ghetto, but I won't be using the drive all that often.<<<

    There are various 'drive docks' that you just slide the bare drive into. Not hot swappable, but handy nonetheless.

    The best for the Mac would probably be...

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Newer Technology/FWU3ES2HDK/

    There are not a lot of drive docks that have Firewire (of any speed), which is why I would go with the Newer dock. If you are willing to get a e-SATA connection on your Mac, your choices are much greater, and you still have a fast connection. If you are willing to live with USB speeds, there are dozens of cheap drive docks that work fine.

    >>> I just realized that my 2011 MBP won't accept FW400 ports, so I'm stuck with USB 2.0 unless I can find a cheap enclosure for FW800.<<<

    You can get a $10 cable with a FW 400 connector on one end and a FW 800 connector on the other end. Problem solved.
     
  23. OverSpun thread starter macrumors 6502a

    OverSpun

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  24. OverSpun thread starter macrumors 6502a

    OverSpun

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    #24
    Anyone with an OWC Mercury Elite Pro with the blue light-

    Mine came in and I assembled it but I noticed a few things that were a bit strange-

    I noticed that the light turns on before the switch is on, and for that matter, that the power cord wasnt even plugged in yet. I thought I totally remembered that FW400 couldnt power any peripherals (such older ipods), but its odd...

    So, I tried it on my macbook pro with FW800, same deal and the light will stay on even after the drive is ejected, and its just strange for me. Which is the point having a power switch if it doesnt actually turn it off?


    On top of this while I was assembling it, there is a small little white switch on the board while I was putting my drive into the enclosure, and I think it has a "1" on 1 side, and I think the other side was blank, is that little switch for anything? I talked to someone at OWC on chat today, and they didnt have any answer for that white switch.

    But, I suppose it is a bit interesting how the power switch doesnt actually turn it off, and they told me that the FW cord can give some passive power to lit the light, but what is the point for that? Am I missing something with this enclosure that maybe mine is defective? For me, if theres a light on, that means its on.... if the lights off, then its 'OFF'. ?? :confused:
     
  25. Tydog07 macrumors 6502

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    #25
    So I'm going to soon be in a position that I can buy a drive and an enclosure (or an all-in-one) that is FW800. I have a couple questions after re-reading this thread:


    1) I want to buy a FW800 drive that doesn't need a power adapter, I'm always moving place to place and I don't have a standard desk for my MBP so I don't want to lug around a power adapter. Is this possible?

    2) I will be storing media files, such as a lot of transcoded footage for FCPX and some other TV/Movies, should I get a Hybrid drive or just get a normal 7200RPM drive?

    3) If I just get a normal drive, can I get any size I want?
     

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