Best external hard drive?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by kinkster, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. kinkster macrumors 6502a

    Sep 15, 2008
    I'm looking into buying an external hard drive for the first time and don't really know where to start. Seems they're all pretty similar and have similar pricing.

    I need 750GB-1TB of space. I'll just be using it for time machine backups and to store some other random stuff.

    Which model should i get or which features should I look for?
  2. MacMini2009 macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
    Western Digital 1TB External Hard Drive

    Look for it on or
  3. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    There are no real features except connection type and portability. The portable drives are powered via USB or Firewire as opposed to AC. However, they are generally more expensive for the storage space and much more limited in size and speed. There is no best, rather what fits ones needs. If you are doing back-ups only you don't really need to worry about speed, but it's nice to have it.

    After Taking Part in Numerous Threads and Purchasing Numerous Drives after Research, I have come to a couple of suggestions and a massive "guide."

    There are three (basic/main) parts to the speed of your external drive:
    1. Connection Type – This is the one most people will know about, if they know one. Things like Firewire 800, Firewire 400, USB 2.0, eSata, etc. It comes to how your drive connects to the computer, in general (fastest to slowest) eSata, Firewire 800, Firewire 400, USB 2.0. Firewire is preferable because it is not only faster then USB, but it transfers at a constant speed, whereas USB is variable. eSata is the fastest but it requires a port that is not available without an adaptor, and those adaptors are hit and miss in terms of quality. Chances are most users will do fine with Firewire 800 and have no need for eSata.
    2. Hard Drive Speed – For some reason people seem to forget that if you have 4200 RPM Drive inside your enclosure, it's going to be slow. This depends on the physical drives inside your enclosure. Speed from fastest to slowest: SSD, 7200 RPM, 5400 RPM, 4200 RPM. The higher the revolutions per minute, the faster, unless there are no revolutions at all ;).
    3. Cache – The one people forget. The cache is just like your computer stores the information temporarily. It is important that if you look at this, especially if you are going to try to play files from your drive. Even if you are using it is a back-up, you don't want a 4MB Cache. Higher the cache the better; 64MB is the general highest speed for most stock drives.

    Or you could be OCD, anal and paranoid like me and have two back-up drives...

    Other User's Recommendation's:
    Build Your Own: uberamd, kufford, SaSaSushi, nanofrog, Ti_Poussin, Caveman
    Drobo: gatepc recommends it, further mixed discussion here.
    EZQuest: LizKat has owned a variety of Monsoons
    G-Tech: RebornKillah recommends the G-Drive Quad 500GB, but it's currently out of production; Digital Skunk notes the great warranty; jaysmith recommend G-Tech
    Hitachi: Trag (SimpleTech Signature Mini 500GB); Thedesolateone also recommends Hitachi.
    Iomega: mc3s (Ultramax 34495 1.5 TB); Justin Lee (eGo 500GB Portable Mac).
    ioSafe: Tterb recommends.
    LaCie: Note: there is an entire thread dedicated to LaCie, I have summed up support from users below, but simply a tally
    jrotunda85, (d2 Quadra 1 TB); RedTomato, gatepc & eVolcre, {although eVolcre owns the one with eSata and Firewire 400}(Hard Disk, Design by Neil Poulton 1 TB); iGary (LaCie Rugged); Gymnut (F.A. Porsche, out of production); VanMac (BigDiskExtreme, out of production); Digital Skunk (2Big Triple, out of production)
    Users expressing general support: cmcbridejr, dpaanlka, LethalWolfe, mpsrig, UltraNeo*, iPhoneNYC, chocolate632, Hellhammer, romanaz
    Users not so happy with LaCie: surfmadison (not a big fan), accacc57, dave12345 (Little Disk), jaysmith, Jerkfish, auero, mperkins37, dfs & jessica.
    Maxtor: adamvk purchased a OneTouch 4 1TB (not sure what version)
    Seagate: steeler (FreeAgent Desk 1.5 TB); MacMini2009, rick3000 (Seagate FreeAgent Desk 1 TB USB Mac); Acid303 does not recommend the (new) Seagate FreeAgent Desk series
    SimpleTech: J&JPolangin (SimpleTech 2TB SimpleDrive Pro Duo); BlizzardBomb recommends the Go; suekitch recommends Seagate because of its warranty
    Western Digital: MacMini2009, xpress1 & MacDawg (MyBook Studio 1TB); Thiol notes purchasing an incredible seven Western Digital MyBook Studio drives all working flawlessly; Acid303 also notes a positive experience with a non-Studio Edition Western Digital drive; terp2007 & matthewscott661 recommend the Passport Series; munkees notes a failure with one of the drives purchased, but a positive experience overall; rikdiddy, RebornKillah & Jerkfish also recommend Western Digital. chrono1081 does not recommend Western Digital & romanaz was also not happy.

    Other Threads:

    1TB is prbly a good size to start at it, I would say most people looking for non-mobile externals start at that size, here is a (not-so) recent thread about that...
    More literature found here.
    Here, is another thread on 1TB Hard Drives
    This one is about LaCie...
    Here is another, there is some more discussion about LaCie in there...
    Here is one on USB 1TB, I'd stick to Firewire...
    And if all else fails, MRoogle
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Seriously dude, you need to add Cave Man to this list. I'll never buy another canned drive so long as I live. ;)
  5. kinkster thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 15, 2008
    Thanks to everyone and especially goldenmackid for the advice, that's just what I was looking for. =)

    Looks most like I'll be going with the Western Digital 1TB Mybook for Mac. Anyone know if it's matte? I'd rather not have finger prints all over it.
  6. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    The Mac editions are glossy. The My Book Studio editions are aluminum.
  7. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Gracious, jefe.

    The biggest problem with buying a canned drive is that if it fails inside the warranty period you cannot disassemble it to determine if it's the drive that's failed or if it's the controller that's failed. Because of this, you have to send the entire thing in to have it examined - and risk losing or compromising any data you may have on that drive. If you assemble your own (i.e., buy a drive and enclosure separately) you can isolate the problem to either. In my experience, controllers fail more often than drives do. Unless you have no problem sending in a drive for someone else to examine (e.g., tax records, social security numbers, bank accounts, or even surreptitious information), you'd be better off assembling your own.

    And always have a backup of your drive.
  8. kinkster thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 15, 2008
    Yeah I think I'll look into that. Any recommendation on an affordable enclosure that would look pretty nice on my desk?

    Also, the reason I'm getting this is partly because of this (copying my post from another thread):

    "I first heard this about a month ago and in total Iv heard it about 4 times.

    It's a strange scratching noise lasting about a second that comes out from my 13 inch MBP. It seems to be coming from whatever part is under the top, center part of the keyborad, around the F7 key.

    It definitly sounds like something going a little wrong, not a sound Iv ever heard a hard drive make."

    anyone think that suggests a dieing drive? i heard it about once a week before, but now today Iv heard it about 8 times.
  9. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    I have this drive in this enclosure. But for a Time Machine volume, this drive would work as well and save you a few bucks (up front and in electricity). I'm also a fan of Seagate drives, but not so much of WD drives.
  10. kinkster thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 15, 2008
    Heh right before seeing your post I was also looking at that enclosure on amazon. Looks pretty nice, how's it been for you?
  11. chkdg8 macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2007
    So a slower drive in its own enclosure would be ideal for Time Machine backups?
  12. steve2112 macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2009
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    It would be fine. You really don't need super fast transfers for a backup that is running in the background. If you were importing data, for example, I would say get a faster drive. For backups, however, a slower drive will work.

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