Advice on External Hard Drives

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by nyycavo24, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. nyycavo24 macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2007
    I don't know if this should be in the buying advice or peripherals section, so I hope I picked the right one!

    My question is basic:

    There are more and more brands of external hard drives popping up online and in stores all over the place. I find myself doing a ton of video editing and I think after only a few weeks of it, its probably in my best interest to pick one of these drives up.

    I know that I am looking for something in the $100-$150 (tops) range and a firewire hookup.

    Which ones provide the best value? Will the cheaper ones carry an increased risk of my data being corrupted? Can anyone speak from experience on this?

    I would hate to transfer all of this data from my MBP to this drive only to lose it all at some point in the future!
  2. parrothead macrumors 6502a


    Sep 24, 2003
    Edmonds, WA
  3. evillageprowler macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2007
    NJ, USA
    nyycavo24: unless you plan to use FW-B, I would recommend you use USB2 external drives. Look for those that are silent, reliable and have sizable cache memory (to speed writes).

    Of course, eSata drives are best in terms of performance...

  4. nyycavo24 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2007

    Will my new MPB (bought two weeks ago) support FW-B?

    What is the advantage of that versus regular firewire or USB 2.0?

    Should I be concerned buying a cheaper hard drive that the drive itself may be unstable or more likely to corrupt or crash?
  5. evillageprowler macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2007
    NJ, USA
    I think the MBP does not support FW-B. (You can always go to and check.) FW-A has a rated throughput of 400Mbps, while USB2 is 480 Mbps.

    As for quality of drive, go to Newegg and read the reviews. Less price doesn't always mean lesser quality. My favorite HDD brands are Lacie (which don't actually make their own disks) and WD. But, there are others. Look for sales of the good stuff, and be sure to think about the cache size.

  6. steeler macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2008
    I bought an enclosure (Macally brand) and Seagate HD at Newegg over a year ago and it works great. I personally like that Seagate has a 5 year warranty. That won't get your data back, but it says something when a HD manufacturer stands behind their product for 5 years. That's a lifetime in the tech industry.
  7. slipper macrumors 68000


    Nov 19, 2003
    My Lacie Porsche drives have served me well. I've upgraded to a larger unit, the Western Digital My Book and hopefully its just as good (time will tell).

    Costco has these on sale, 500gb w/ FW400, USB2, eSata for $139.99
  8. Zeeinnm macrumors member

    Dec 11, 2007

    I am looking at a new Imac and wonder if getting a FW800 is enough better to be worth the extra money(for timeline). I had also been looking at those on sale at costco. :confused:
  9. pkoch1 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 3, 2007
    Yes, it will. That's the wider squarish port next to the FireWire 400 port.

    It is twice as fast as FireWire 400. I'd definitely recommend FireWire 400 over USB because even though USB is faster on paper, FireWire 400 is almost twice as fast, and FireWire 800 is even faster than that.
  10. KJdanReuben macrumors regular

    May 22, 2007
    Spending the extra for FW800 is definitely worth it. It is so much quicker.
  11. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    I would go FW 800 but it really won't matter after your initial Time Machine backup as the daily backups aren't that large and using a FW 800 vs 400 won't be noticable. However I have a FW 800 for Time Machine, but it is a RAID case with 2 independent drives in it, one for TM and one for video.
  12. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816


    Jan 11, 2008
    When purchasing a cheaper model external hard drive, one of the things I would look at is what actual drives are inside? Is it one that has gotten good reviews? Also, one of the biggest enemies to hard drives is heat. Make sure it has some sort of cooling options built into the design. You also might consider buying an enclosure and hard drive separately and installing it into the enclosure yourself. That gives you a few more options. Good luck!
  13. evillageprowler macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2007
    NJ, USA
    I have a Lacie Porsche as well as a WD My Book - usb-only versions. The Lacie uses its enclosure as a heat sink, so it will feel warm/hot to the touch but is much cooler inside.

    I am very happy with both models.

  14. aross99 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2006
    East Lansing, MI
    I agree that firewire 400 is faster then USB2. Obviously firewire 800 is even faster, but also more expensive.

    I say go with a combo Firewire 400/USB drive for the best combination of performance, low cost, and longevity, and spring for the triple Firewire 800/Firewire 400/USB if performance is important, or the cost differential is low enough.

    OWC ( sells nice combo drives, and also sells the enclosures separately where you can use your own drive. Not sure how cost effective that is though unless you already have a drive to use.

    My experience has been that the USB only drives are the cheapest, followed by comb Firewire 400/USB and then triple Firewire 800/400/USB...

    The larger drive capacities (over 500GB) are more likely to have Firewire 800, but are also probably out of your price range...

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