Are there ANY reliable external HDDs??

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by 8thMan, Jul 29, 2007.

  1. 8thMan macrumors regular


    Feb 17, 2006
    I've been doing some research online for an external HDD for my SR MBP and have discovered that reliability appears to vary widely, and not necessarily by product. The same HDD will receive soaring reviews alongside curses and condemnations. Everybody has their favorite, but there seems to be little objective reporting on which external HDDs are ACTUALLY most reliable. Lacie? Maxtor? WD? Seagate? It depends on who you ask.

    I would really like an external HDD I could count on. Certainly there must be some manufacturer with a solid reputation, or is it all simply a matter of opinion? Help!
  2. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Aug 7, 2006
    I had a maxtor 1touch for 2 years I killed with static, so i replaced it with a maxtor 1touch 2, which I've had for about another 1.5 years. Worked fine, except for when it failed because of the static shock.

    I also have 2 OWC Mercury Elite's, which are FW800. Only had those a few weeks, but the come highly recommended.

    I've heard bad things about Maxtor and WD, and yet I've had good experiences with both. Same with seagate.

    So, to answer your question: yes, there are plenty of reliable external hdd's, but each brand has their lemons. I recommend having more than 1 backup solution, because ALL brands have failures.
  3. techlover828 macrumors 68020


    Jun 28, 2007
    I have a western digital mybook premium that has served me well for a whole two weeks.
  4. Spikeanator6982 macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2007
  5. 8thMan thread starter macrumors regular


    Feb 17, 2006
  6. spjonesi macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2006
    I've had a ton of drives over the years, all internal. But I can give my totally untrained opinion on them

    I've had pretty bad luck with Maxtor. I think I'm 3 for 3 with them failing. Other people swear by them.

    WD...mixed bag for me. I'm rough on these drives as they are put into commission in my tivos and made to record copious amounts of data without ever shutting off. I've killed 2 drives out of maybe was a tivo drive.

    Seagate...also tivo drives. Rock my socks off stable. Not one bad drive out of 4 or 5.

    Samsung. I've only had one. Still working away in a Tivo for my parents after about 3 years of nonstop use.

    My comments are one guys observations from use of way too many tivos and computers over an unspecified period of time. Do what you will, but as others have said, I'd go with an internal drive and make my own external drive with an OWC enclosure. I prefer seagate or wd drives for this. But that is just me.

    good luck,
  7. looking4anotebo macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2007
    I am in the same exact position and have found similar findings in my research.

    I have been especially looking at wd and seagate drives. From years of experience and talking to other people, I feel safe saying that seagate is the best, and they do stand by their product with a 5 year warranty on most drives. Downside here is that a lot of their drives do not have firewire interface, and that is something I want.

    WD, the mybook drives look pretty good, and have the triple interface, both firewire 400 and 800 and USB 2.0. The downside to WD is the 1 year warranty. And I have read several reviews where the user stated that the warranty starts from the date the drive is actually manufactured. Meaning it could sit in storage or on a shelf, and by the time you get it, have only 6 or 7 months of warranty left. In general, WD is more mixed, imo. You will see plenty of satisfied customers, but also a long list of users who swear to never buy another WD drive again.
  8. 8thMan thread starter macrumors regular


    Feb 17, 2006
    Yeah, I keep getting drawn back to Mybook drives but again, those mixed reviews make me uncomfortable. I'd really like a Lacie unit just because they look great with MBPs, but I need to keep my priorities straight. I'm also tempted to go FW800 simply because I've got the port.

    The Buddhists are right: desire is a terrible thing!
  9. kusanagi macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2007
    ive got 5 WD MyBooks, 4x 500gig mybook premiums and 1x 250gig mybook basic.

    They all work great, i use the 4x500 gig drives for my media box. They also have firewire which is handy as i daisy chain them togehter.

    I'm sure other manufactuers have it, but the mybooks have a great power saving feature which means you can always have them powered on, but when not in use, or in idle after x minutes they automatically spin down. so they're not running 24x7.

    The other great thing is they look really cool too!
  10. Millwood macrumors regular

    Jul 15, 2006
    I got 2 WD Mybook's. Can't say I've ever had a problem with them. Work great.
  11. a456 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 5, 2005
    I have a Lacie mobile firewire/USB2 drive. It works great and I take it everywhere in my pocket. No fuss or bother. I also have an external desktop Iomega drive and that works great too.
  12. c.greene914 macrumors regular


    Jun 3, 2007
    I have two Seagate external drives and they both work fine. I had the same dilemma you are having when I was getting ready to purchase. I figured any brand is going to have great reviews and terrible reviews so I let other aspects help me make my decision.

    The [main] reason I chose Seagate was because of their 5-year warranty. It does not cover data recovery but they will replace your hard drive for free. The next best warranty is 3-years, I believe from WD. In 5 years I will probably have already sold it to buy a bigger one anyway...

    If you back up your data on disc or some other form, you won't have to worry about losing it, and the warranty will give you a new HDD in case of faliure. IMHO, you can't beat that.
  13. 8thMan thread starter macrumors regular


    Feb 17, 2006
    What are the most likely sources of failure? The enclosure or the drive itself? It would seem to me that a failed enclosure would be less of a disaster than a failed drive -- at least you could recover your data.

    Like I said before, I find myself partial to the look of LaCie enclosures. Perhaps with a Seagate drive?
  14. spjonesi macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2006
    <Puts hand in air> Ohhhhh!!!!Ohhhh!!!! I know this one. I just read it!!! YES! I'm helpful. :D

    Ok, so I'm in Spain for the summer, and to get better at speaking Spanish, I've been reading up on computer mags in Spanish. They say that -HEAT- is the #1 enemy of hard drives at 30% and caused most drive failure. This was some sort of report by some drive manufacturer consortium or something. I'll find it if you want more info.

    Point is that the drive should be well ventilated and/or cooled properly in said enclosure.

  15. motulist macrumors 601


    Dec 2, 2003
    If by reliable you mean a hard disk that you can be almost certain will not fail, then the answer is no, there are no reliable HDDs. All hard disks fail sooner or later because they are mechanical devices. If 99% reliability is really mission critical to you, then plunk down the dough for an expensive SSD (solid state drive).
  16. neven macrumors 6502a

    Oct 10, 2006
    Portland, OR
    Here's why ALL HDDs by ALL manufacturers get a mix of ok and horrible reviews:

    If your mouse fails, you buy a new one. If your fan fails, you grumble and buy a new one. If your power supply fails, you curse and buy a new one. If your 6-year old HDD fails, you lose all your data and curse the manufacturer like the CEO drove over and personally kicked you in the gut.

    I've been using externals for years, both for scheduled backups and for day-to-day storage, and here's my record:

    - I've put together two internal+enclosure setups with WD and Maxtor drives because I was told that only suckers bought pre-built external drives. Both of these were ugly, noisy, ran hot, and both failed within a year.
    - LaCie - tiny, sleek, no problems in 2 years of use.
    - Seagate 160 & 250 - classy, stackable, runs cool, no problems in 3 years of use.
    - MyBook - simple, classy, no problems in 6 months of use
    - Maxtor 320 - simple, cheap, crappy enclosure, no problems in 18 months of use.

    Outside of that, I've only ever had one internal drive (a WD 80, I think) fail after 5 years of use. My policy now is to back data up to at least two locations. After about 18 months of use of a particular drive, I scale down my use of it. That's about how often I run out of space anyway, so that's my HDD buying cycle.

    Of course, other people will have other experiences.
  17. superleccy macrumors 6502a


    Oct 31, 2004
    That there big London
    8thMan, I can't answer your question. But, if you want to get closer 100% reliability, keep (at least) two copies of all your data.

    For example, when you have chosen your external hard drive, buy two of them: one to work with, and one to clone to. Then use a program like SuperDuper or Silver Keeper to clone your working hard drive to the clone hard drive on a regular basis.

    Or, perhaps look at using some kind of RAID1 setup.

    You'd have to come up with the best strategy for your needs.

  18. klharper macrumors member

    May 2, 2007
    Slightly off topic, but for categorizing purposes:

    I hear OWC uses Seagate drives in their Mercury Elite Pro line - can anyone confirm? A factor in their high ratings, perhaps.
  19. applehero macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2007
    29º 25' 26"N, 95º 29' 36"W
    I've heard that Buffalo drives are about the best for reliability. I am also in the market for an external set up and I will be going with either LaCie or Buffalo.
  20. StealthRider macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2002
    Yokosuka, Japan
    I've heard nothing about Buffalo drives, but I've heard that LaCie makes some seriously hot-running pieces of crap.
  21. iW00t macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    Thousands of seething customer reviews on for mysteriously dud Sandisk devices disagrees with you.

    If you want reliability redundancy and backup is the key. Raid-1 and regular backups offsite!

    It is so nice to make things sound more buff when they really are. Who in the world uses a SSD drive for "mission critical" stuff? I don't think the leading financial institutions can even afford to do it.
  22. bobber205 macrumors 68020


    Nov 15, 2005
    If you need an external HD, buy an internal one and then a good case. You'll probably save money and be better off to boot. :cool:
  23. moez macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2007
    I have been using WD MyBook Premium 500GB for couple of months now and it seems to be working perfectly.

    Just one thing though, ppl say that with the auto-off feature in MyBook, the chances of hard drive failure increases because MTBF would go up. Can anyone confirm this?
  24. ~J~ macrumors 6502

    Jul 27, 2007
    3rd Rock from the sun
    I have 3 Seagate 160GB "travel" drives (2.5") that I've had for over 9 months, no errors or problems. One of them gets written to several times a day (its my mobile backup drive). The other 2 house my media library and personal data. I also have a 750GB Seagate (3.5") in my home office that has served me well for about 4 months now, same story - no errors or problems. BTW, I check my disks once a month with Tech Tools Pro. Seagate isnt the only one that makes good discs, WD has some good stuff from my experience as well. Hope that helps!

    If you would like the model numbers to the drives, let me know, I'd be glad to get them to you.
  25. DesignerOnMac macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2007
    I too recommend OWC Drives

    I have had Western Digital, and Seagate Drives, both SUCKED BIG TIME!!!!!
    IBN/Now Hitachi Drives have been good for me.

    Just bought a Firewire portable HD from OWC and I can not ay enough about the drive. Mounts fast and writes fast!

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