Best firewire external harddrive???

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mikesweber, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. mikesweber macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2009
    I am trying to buy a new external hard drive. My current 500gb WD is about to die. I currently use usb 2.0, but I am interested in firewire since I transfer large image file often. I was interested in WD my studio with firewire, I purchased a WD passport my studio and experienced problems with it unmounting/shutting off while transferring, so I returned it.

    After some research it appears that EVERY hard drive that uses firewire randomly unmounts/shuts off?! I have read a lot of reviews on WD, Seagate, and Lacie drives and all have some complaints of this same problem. Does anyone actually have a firewire drive that works and is reliable. If the drive randomly unmounts, I do not consider this reliable.

    Any help/recommendations would be great. Thanks!
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    If the unmounting is truly random the no drive is better than any other. You're not going to ever find a drive with a 100% guarantee that it will always remain mounted. You should also consider that a lot of times the only people that bother leaving a review are the ones that have had a problem.
  3. Aboo macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2008
    WD Mybook Studio is a great drive, and they are being clearanced at many locations, so you could pick up a 1 TB version for about 150 bucks.
  4. mikesweber thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2009
    Thanks for the info. That is a great point about people leaving reviews. Thanks
  5. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    Only some of this will be applicable:

    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:
    Buffalo: techfreak85 (DriveStation Combo4 1TB)
    Build Your Own: uberamd, kufford, SaSaSushi, nanofrog, Ti_Poussin, bigdaddyp; Cave Man, chkdg8, kdp.slider, mahen, alphaod
    Drobo: gatepc recommends it, further mixed discussion here. A Drobo v. alternative discussion was had 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; Bill Gates (500GB Mini); Digital Skunk notes the great warranty; jaysmith & tcphoto recommend G-Tech
    Hitachi: Trag (SimpleTech Signature Mini 500GB); J&JPolangin (SimpleTech 2TB SimpleDrive Pro Duo); BlizzardBomb recommends the Go; bigdaddyp recommends the Signature Mini. Thedesolateone also recommends Hitachi. Also of note is that Hitachi acquired G-Tech recently.
    Iomega: mc3s (Ultramax 34495 1.5 TB); Justin Lee & quantum003 (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 & Kronie (d2 Quadra 1 TB); RedTomato, gatepc & eVolcre, Cousin Dirk {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.
    cluthz has mixed reactions regarding the (d2 and Neil Poulton)
    Maxtor: adamvk purchased a OneTouch 4 1TB (not sure what version)
    OWC: GGJstudios (1TB Mercury Elite-AL Pro) & (On-The-Go 200GB)
    Seagate: steeler (FreeAgent Desk 1.5 TB); MacMini2009, rick3000, cluthz & soo (Seagate FreeAgent Desk 1 TB USB Mac); suekitch recommends Seagate because of its warranty; Acid303 does not recommend the (new) Seagate FreeAgent Desk series
    Western Digital: MacMini2009, xpress1, patrickdunn, iphonematt & MacDawg (MyBook Studio 1TB); Thiol notes purchasing an incredible seven Western Digital MyBook Studio drives all working flawlessly; pprior (MyBook Studio Edition 2TB) Acid303 also notes a positive experience with a non-Studio Edition Western Digital drive; terp2007, odinsride, Samuriajackon, cluthz & 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. NT1440 is also not a big fan.

    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...
    Just for kicks, we had a random thread.
    And if all else fails, MRoogle
    If you wish to have your name added to the list, PM Me.​
  6. King Mook Mook macrumors 6502

    MyBook Studio!

    Wow, good job Golden Mac Kid! Personally I use MyBook Studio 640GB which I got on clearance here in Australia and I find that it works really, really, really well! I would recommend it! The only problem that I have is that the LEDs on the device and bit annoying but apart from that it is perfect!

    King Mook Mook
  7. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Personally I'd recommend DYI, but that's also because I upgrade drives so quickly, buying OEM externals would mean voiding warranties. I'm also very specific with build quality and chipset usage. Oxford chips are the best and I think it's been proven (not by me). I usually look for OEM version of name-brand drives. If you like RAID drives, Macpower sells OEM version of the ones that OWC sell for about twice as much. In these cases I'm not sure how the warranty would work, but that's also because I've never had any enclosures with quality chipsets go bad on me *knock on wood*.

    The Drobo is terribly slow and it uses their own algorithm. The good part is the mix-and-match, but the drawback to that if the enclosure were to fail, you could lose your data (since the storage method is proprietary). If you end up buying the biggest disks anyways, the Drobo wouldn't be a good choice either since the point is to mix.

    All-in-all, I wouldn't get the Drobo. I should also mention with something like RAID-5, you get about 75% to of the space; with the Drobo you get around 66% which isn't really efficient at all. You also get about the a quarter the speed. That's not the mention you have to spend about $400 up-front for just the enclosure.
  8. jayhawk11 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 19, 2007
    Holy God in Heaven....epic post dude. Great info. You really should save that as a text file on your computer and just paste it in as need be (if you aren't already)
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Do you need "transportability" (i.e., moving the drive from location to location), or, will it be pretty much used in a single location?

    If you don't need easy transportability, why not consider a "bare" (no enclosure) SATA drive and one of these:

    There are also a few versions (more $$) with firewire, too.

    With one of these, you're not tied to a single drive in a single external enclosure. You can swap drives out as needed.
  10. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    He's posted that particular guide numerous times as people ask this question just about every day. I wouldn't be surprised if it were hot-keyed.
  11. maconservative macrumors regular


    May 1, 2006
    Republic of Texas
    After much research I decided to go with either the G-Technology G-DRIVE High-Performance Hard Drive or the G-Technology G-DRIVE mini Portable Hard Drive. These seem to have the best reviews and the specifications look solid. Just not sure on the size yet. My MBP has the 320GB hard drive and wasn't sure if the 500GB external would be sufficient for the Time Machine backups. The 1 TB isn't that much more. :D
  12. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007

    I hope you have better luck than I did. I've had a power supply faliure on my G-Tech Quad and I had to send my G-Raid mini in for an entire month (several "we are sending it out tommorow promise!"'s later) after they promised 5-7 day turn around after the drive broke down three months after purchase (total usage about one month lightly) and took my data along with it. The drives work OK so far but it'll be a very long time before I buy another g-tech product. I bought them because Apple uses them in alot of their print advertising and the genius bar also uses them (plus they look great), but is your data worth it? Make sure you read here to look at products which may give you the most trouble :
  13. maconservative macrumors regular


    May 1, 2006
    Republic of Texas

    I appreciate this info. I guess I will be doing a little more research before I make this purchase. :eek:
  14. Lloyd Christmas macrumors regular

    May 12, 2009
    I just got the 1 TB G-drive for my time machine back ups. I love it so far. The only negative I can say about it is the light that goes on when the drive is on and it flashes when it is reading/writing. For the couple extra dollars, I would buy the biggest one you could buy. Lloyd
  15. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    I have two posts that I constantly copy and paste. I got frustrated after see these threads on a daily basis and decided to take a couple hours and go through a couple of the larger discussions to formulate a large post. It's constantly being updated and I think it's somewhat helpful.
  16. NT1440 macrumors G5


    May 18, 2008

    Their drives are sound, but the controllers in their passport series are complete **** and the reason for the random unmountings. Its well known in the industry but WD has done nothing to fix the problem.
  17. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    I have had no problems with any of my Western Digital drives including my Passport Essential Mac Edition drive. The debate is mixed with any of the big brands.
  18. ChefJayPeek macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2008
    Suburban Texas
    thegoldenmackid, Your guide is very helpful. Here is another data point for you to take into consideration. I got an Iomega MiniMax 1 TB a few weeks ago. Other than the flashing LED when accessing the drive (annoying at night when Time Machine goes off) it is great. It has Firewire 400 and USB 2, with a USB hub built in. It is also the same form factor as a Mini, and includes a Firewire patch cable, a USB patch cable and a really short Firewire cable for use if you are stacking it with a Mini. I got it d at Fry's for 118, a bit higher than USB only externals, a bit cheaper than most of the combo drives there. Probably higher than mail order, but I needed a 2nd backup drive, and the Firewire was nice for the initial Time Machine backup, then I switched it over to USB to utilize the built in hub for my camera, and iPhone.

    Just food for thought.

    Chef Jay
  19. NT1440 macrumors G5


    May 18, 2008
    I've had problems with three of them now, though not the mac branded version (no need to pay more when you can just reformat yourself). I took them apart and it is indeed the controller in each of them that was faulty, as the drives had no problem when I connected via another barebones controller we had in the office.

    I've lost trust in WD, two of those drives were refurbished and passed inspection. Every time I hit anywhere from 9GB to 15GB transferred, they just unexpectantly disconnected. I get that I may just have bad luck, but why not go with another much more trusted option for roughly the same price?
  20. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    If you just accept that ALL drives fail. no matter who makes it

    Realize that only WD, Seagate and Maxtor make external drives with their drives inside.

    iomega, lacie, fantom, etc use whatever drive they can buy the cheapest -- thats why many people build their own. You choose the case and the drive with best performance/warranty/price.

    Pick your budget and buy a drive you like.

    Then buy a second USB2 drive to backup the first one.
  21. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
  22. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    They don't (necessarily) buy the cheapest. G-Tech is also in a weird place in terms of this given their ownership.
  23. jamesdmc macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2007
    I'm in total agreement with Badger on this one. Not just with going the DIY route, but also from whom to buy the enclosure: OWC. It gives me peace of mind knowing what type of drive I'm using because I've put in some research before selecting it.
  24. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    I've had many drives.
    I have WD something for Time Machine using USB2 . OK for that.
    I just bought a Buffalo quad interface 1T drive. I like it. I've seen transfer rates of about 80 meg bytes per second (FW800). Fast for video transfer.
    I recommend FW 800 and big.

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