Advice on External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by kds786, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. kds786 macrumors regular


    Jun 25, 2010
    So, I've come to the point where I need to buy an external drive for my MBP. I'm running out of storage and would like to be able to store photos & possibly maybe movies from iTunes on it, and also possibly some documents I need to keep but don't use often. I'd want to store all of these current things on it as well as go ahead and store some new documents, movies, etc. on it, too. I've never, ever had to get a hard drive before and was thinking of a portable one in either 750 GB or 1 TB so that I'd always have plenty of extra storage. I have a mid-2010 MBP, 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3, 320 GB hard drive, running Lion & bootcamp with Windows XP. Don't know if you need all of that but there you go.

    Question 1
    Which hard drive would be recommended for what I want? I don't want to spend a crazy amount on it (between $100-150 if possible).

    Question 2
    I'm somewhat computer savvy but I have never ever had to use an external hard drive before. EVER. (don't laugh!) For what I want to use it for, would it work just to save stuff to it /transfer stuff to it similar to when you need to transfer stuff to a USB flash drive or is it more complicated?

    Like I said, I'm a newbie at external drives so please be kind!:eek:


    Okay, one more question...

    Would the size of the drive I want also be able to do backup or would I need 2nd drive for that?
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Brand doesn't matter - all platter based hard drives are the same. Buy the one with the best warranty for your budget, price range, and desired capacity.

    That's pretty much it. Once you format it, it's drag and drop.

    A 750 - 1 TB drive would be more than enough to keep a good number of backups with Time Machine as well as serve as "standard" storage.
  3. kds786 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 25, 2010
    Thanks so much! I felt stupid asking but I really needed to know! Thanks again!
  4. whsbuss macrumors 68040


    May 4, 2010
    SE Penna.
    I agree that a 750-1TB is sufficient but look for one that has both USB and Firewire. I know the Western Digital Studio has that.
  5. idunn macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    A few thoughts on storage

    1TB may not be enough capacity.

    This all depends, but if dealing with video, and particularly that in HD, then expect to quickly use space if adding much in the way of movies or TV series. Any doubt in that, check the files sizes on iTunes, and do the math.

    Another consideration in this, related directly to video, is how you anticipate watching this video, assuming it resides only on your external hard drive. That is not at all an unreasonable assumption, as at even 750GB your external storage will likely exceed that internal on a MBP, so most of it likely moved off-site, and no longer accessed from an internal drive. In such event you can be forever connecting an external drive to watch something, leaving it forever connected, or configuring some type of router to do this remotely via wi-fi. If something like this is the intent, then insure that the drive is suitable for audio/visual use, with a sufficient throughput, so as to avoid stuttering.

    Redundancy is also an issue. Since the capacity of your external drive probably far exceeds that of your internal, consider that most data on it will exist nowhere else, and therefore not backed up. The stark reality, right from the get-go, is that even if contemplating something modest in 750GB—you will need do that x2, for two individual drives of 750GB, or exactly matching whatever the capacity is. Another way to approach this is a RAID configuration which insures backup in one unit, although as safely configured it will half whatever the ultimate capacity is, from 2TB to 1TB, etc. Consider also that while this can be a safe method, that it still places all your data in one single unit. If really concerned with this data, then storing a full backup remotely, either in the cloud, or a separate drive stored safely, would be advisable.

    Beginning to sound like a pain? It can be. But if rather complex in some iterations, the basics can still be somewhat simple.

    There are any number of external hard drives available which are basically plug and play and, as suggested, not much different than using flash memory. SSD would be ideal, but due cost most will still have to put up with spinning platters for now, for storage of any appreciable size. I've yet to see reviews on any traditional external hard drives without someone bitching about how they had crashed, lost their data, or otherwise misbehaved. It seems the nature of the beast, so another good reason to always have all data backed up. Nevertheless, some brands and models within them seem more reliable than others, so with some research one might improve their odds of happy, long-term storage.

    This doesn't cover all the permutations of what is possible, or might be needed. One specific brand I might have recommended is no longer easily available in that configuration. Possibly as well, because if visiting the applicable forums on this site, as well as reading reviews from such sites as Amazon, one can learn a lot. Do that research prior to buying anything, and you may well be all the happier with the decision.

    With the increasing prevalence of SSD, anything bought today may be effectively obsolete in a few years. So that purchased now might be considered a stop-gap in the interim until really good storage is inexpensive enough. But for that duration, be realistic in the amount of storage you expect to use, and maybe increase your likely projections.

    1TB is a lot of storage, and possibly sooner than you expected, not enough.

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