Best External HD?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by iMatt., Nov 18, 2010.

  1. iMatt. macrumors 6502

    Sep 1, 2010
    London, England
    I'm looking for a decent external hard drive for use with time machine. It does not need to be portable as it will b e staying on my desktop with my iMac. I need 500gb max...and preferably FireWire interface.

    Any recommendations?
  2. Cox Orange, Nov 18, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010

    Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    someone asked a similar question:

    things you might want to consider:
    1. how relevant is speed for me
    2. do you want an enclosure with a HDD already present or buy both seperately?
    a) most available enclosures with HDD have Seagate drives in it, unless it is from a specific HDD-manufacturer itself (e.g. WD Mybook, Hitachi simple drive, etc.).
    b) Also, they have 5400rpm drives, if you want one with 7200rpm, buy HDD+enclosure seperately

    3. Do I want to swap the HDD in the future, for another HDD?
    - some enclosures with HDD already present, are internally wired not via SATA/IDE, but with a fix cabling, so that customers can not change the HDD (e.g. WD does this with most newer enclosures that are sold with HDD. you can find this out: if the enclosure is not supposed to be opened, than it most likely will not have a usable wiring/connection-port inside).

    4. only backup or special operation purpose (e.g. media-server) or also diagnosis.
    - if diagnosis: if you want to test the SMART status on several Drives, buy a HDD from InXtron/Macpower, that comes with SMART AP, Raidsonic had these, too. (this is only if you do not have the possibility to connect your HDD internally via SATA/IDE or via an added eSATA-Card, like you could in an Mac Pro/PowerMac. Because SMART Status can only read via SATA on Macs, not USB/firewire ---> exceptions are the InXtron etc. enclosures that came with SMART AP. Some enclosures with Oxford Chipset from other manufacturers do support external SMART read out, too, but only via firewire/eSATA.
    If you can connect via eSATA or internally via SATA/IDE you do not need these enclosures you can use the freeware SMART Reporter, which does only give an overall status report, saying "SMART verified" or "neutral" or "failed" and there is "SMART Utility" which has a few days trial and can then be bought for 19,99EUR. it gives very detailed info, what exactly failed in all the parameters that SMART includes. e.g. defected sectors, operating temperatures, power-on hours (how long this drive was allready used). SMART can warn you early of disk failures or dead.

    5. quality
    - Oxford chipsets are also said to be of high quality (products confirm a set standard called Oxford)
    - but there are others of good quality, too, I'd bet ;)

    WARNING: the above written can be full of wrong information, so no guarantee :)
  3. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    Your sig indicates your iMac has a 500GB drive. If cost doesn't rule it out, perhaps you should consider a larger drive for Time Machine. Even if your iMac's drive isn't full yet, it probably won't be too long before it is close, and then you'll have only the very latest version of each file on the backup disk. The more backup space you have, the farther "back in time" you can go to recover an older version of a file.

    (That said, it's still important to know that Time Machine is not intended to be a file archival system. Older files will get overwritten eventually, after the backup drive fills up.)

    I've seen recommendations for 20%, 50% and 200% more than the data to be backed up. I'd suggest you get at least a 750GB external drive, but (the one place I looked) it was only $11 more for a 1TB, so I'd go with that, but if cost is a big issue, a 500 GB should be OK, especially if you've not filled up your iMac's drive yet.

    As far as the drive itself, I can only offer that I've had great experience with a 1TB Seagate FreeAgent Desk for Mac , using Firewire 800 connection, but judging from, they may be discontinuing them.

    I would add one more point to Cox Orange's list:

    6. Buy it somewhere that it's easy to return it, like Amazon.

    I say this because one aspect of a drive I could never determine before purchase is whether its energy-saving/spin-down/sleep behavior is what I want. For a backup drive, you probably want one like my Seagate for Mac drive that spins itself down (even turns off the light) when it's not being used. It's great. However, when you do use it, it introduces a few seconds delay while it spins up. Not a problem for Time Machine, but I've seen posts describing some drives that seemed to spin down too early or spin up too often, like whenever a finder window was opened! (Mine doesn't do that.)

    My point is, for this behavior it would be best to try it out and be able to return the drive if it doesn't work the way you want with OS X and your usage patterns.

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