Choice of portable hard drive (or DIY hard drive)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by macstatic, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. macstatic macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2005
    #1
    I need a portable hard drive for my 15" Powerbook G4 (1.67GHz), and later a MacBook Pro. It has to have the following features (it will be used for storing photos during my time at photography school):

    - Bus-powered (so I can use it "in the field" where there's no access to AC power)
    - Firewire 800 (for faster speeds at home)
    - rugged (it won't be thrown around, but for photography use it will be taken in/out of my bag a lot, so it mustn't crack open because I handle it a lot etc.)
    - reliable
    - not too heavy or big

    Some other photographers recommended LaCie's rugged hard disk.
    It seems like a good candidate except for the following:

    - LaCie has (according to lots of postings I've read) a bad reputation for quality
    - the drives they use are by Hitachi. From what I've read many places this is a brand you want to stay away from if you're not fond of failing drives/lost data!
    - I don't particularly like the drive enclosure's design/color
    - the enclosure isn't really that small and portable

    Are there any good alternatives to this drive?
    I could live with the appearance of the enclosure, but of course LaCie only sells them with their crappy Hitachi drives.
    I'm also considering buying an external enclosure by itself, and choosing the hard drive which I want, but I can't find any suitable enclosure.
    Suggestions anyone?
     
  2. richard.mac macrumors 603

    richard.mac

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    #2
    i would personally recommend OWC. i use their Mercury Elite Pro desktop external hard drive thats AC powered but they also have the Mercury On-The-Go which is bus powered. it has firewire 800/400 and USB 2.0, supports up to 500 GB and has a see-thru case.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/MS8U5500SB8/

    the 500GB version uses a Samsung 2.5" SATA hard drive and you could probably buy this and then buy the On-The-Go case and assemble it yourself and save a lot of money. theres also the DIY kit from OWC which is a little bit less expensive http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/HM500JIMF8U2/.
     
  3. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Hardly what you'd called rugged though ;)
    I can imagine that plastic enclosure cracking easily.

    I have a couple of OWC enclosures myself (Mercury Elite Al) which are great, but it won't run on USB bus-power.
     
  4. richard.mac macrumors 603

    richard.mac

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    #4
    well the only 'rugged' one i can think of myself is funnily enough the Lacie rugged one. Lacie arent that bad as they use some of the same hard drives that other external drive manufaturers use. its just theyre a bit more expensive as theyre a more of a niche brand like Apple

    the OWC On-The-Go comes with a carry case if you want to protect it more.
     
  5. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    Singapore
    #5
    make it yourself.... SOOO much better and cheaper.


    if you HAVE to choose a LaCie (personal experience say noway hozay) get your own hard drive and put it in yourself and take the LaCie one out
     
  6. MowingDevil macrumors 68000

    MowingDevil

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    Jul 30, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC & Sydney, NSW
    #6
    End of story right here:
    http://www.glyphtech.com/products/portagig800.html

    I just picked one up myself for the same reason as you need it (moving around, portable, durable) only its for audio so I needed it fast (7200 & FW-800).
    A no brainer imo.
     
  7. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2005
    #7
    Wow! The Glyph Portagig does indeed seem very well built and reliable according to what I've read at various websites. They use Seagate drives, which I am under the impression are well known for being reliable.

    The cost for those Glyph drives on the other hand are pretty stiff compared to the LaCie Rugged drives.
    For example, using Amazon.com as a reference (assuming that the LaCie drives are 5400 RPM and not 7200, comparing them with 5400 drives from Glyph):


    - LaCie rugged (160 GB) $ 119
    - Glyph Portagig (160 GB) $ 219

    - LaCie rugged (250 GB) $ 131
    - Glyph Portagig (250 GB) $ 259

    - LaCie rugged (320 GB) $ 160
    - Glyph Portagig (320 GB) $ 319


    In addition, LaCie has a 500 GB drive for $ 239, which is less than what a Glyph Portagig costs with half the storage space.
    Are the Glyph drives really worth all that extra money? the hard drives inside surely can't differ that much in price, or can they?

    I do want a reliable drive, but not at twice the cost.
     
  8. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2005
    #8
    Too bad they don't sell empty enclosures, or someone else sells empty enclosures that can take a beating.
    I don't really feel like forking out the cash for a brand new LaCie rugged, only to throw out the drive and buy a new one to put inside. I don't think anyone would risk buying my brand "used" drive, even though in reality it would be brand new and unused.
     
  9. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #9
    im sure there is a simple search that google could bring up to find an awsomely made rugged external enclosure.

    e.g. a Rugged LaCie 320gb 5400rpm costs $199 AUD.

    i can find a 320gb 7200rpm (!!!!!) HD for $199 AUD, an external closure will cost me around $85-$100 AUD...

    yes they may not be as "rugged" as the LaCie (i dont even know if they perform as good as they say they do) but it would most certianly be a cheaper alternative.
     
  10. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2005
    #10
    Do you know of any good links for sites that sell enclosures like that? I've searched the usual sites, but all I find are the usual low quality enclosures which will most likely split in two after a while of travelling.

    I received an email from LaCie where I had asked about which drives they used in their "Rugged" series and they told me that it varies. Like many companies they probably choose the cheapest ones their suppliers have which in turn means you can be lucky or extremely unlucky if you buy something from them. That explains why you can read so many disappointed/bad experience posts from LaCie owners while you also read posts about very happy owners of the same drives.

    I'm going to take a closer look at the Glyph Portagig despite it hurting my wallet pretty badly.
    Maybe I can buy one with a smaller capacity drive, then put in a larger drive later. I assume they can easily be opened and the drive removed.

    MowingDevil: can you have a look at yours and see if there are screws holding it together which easily disassembles the unit?
     
  11. MowingDevil macrumors 68000

    MowingDevil

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    Vancouver, BC & Sydney, NSW
    #11
    I'm sure there's cheaper drives out there than what I paid for the Glyph but I'm a firm believer in you get what you paid for. Thats why I've been a Mac user since '96. I fully expect this drive to last while being portable. It all depends on how important your files are and what kind of dollar value you put on that. I opted for the 200gb version because the larger ones were a bit pricey. Not that the Glyph is perfect but the last thing I want is a hard drive failure because I cheaped out.
     
  12. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2005
    #12
    Yes, those Glyph drives seem like serious drives for people serious about not losing their files. But they still seem a little over-priced compared to the LaCie.
    Then again the drives inside are "you never know what you're gonna get" while the Glyph Portagig uses Seagate SATA II drives for sure (that's what it says at their site).
    I'd go for the 5400 RPM versions as that'll do for transferring photos and would save me a little cash.

    Where did you buy yours? I'll look into the 200 GB version.
    If you get the time, can you see if the enclosure seems to be easy to disassemble (to allow for drive replacements)?
     
  13. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

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    Oct 24, 2007
    #13
    My last Lacie (350 GB "F.A. Porsche") had a black western digital inside..
     
  14. MowingDevil macrumors 68000

    MowingDevil

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    #14
    K, I checked it out.
    Its not standard screws, but it looks like an allen-key will do the trick. If you look at the picture you'll see 4 silver circles on each corner. Thats them. Looks to me like the top & bottom covers will come apart from the middle housing section. My guess is it would be a piece of cake to swap drives.

    I went for the 7200 only because I'm using it for my audio drive & I need it fast but ya if I were you I'd just go w/ the 5400 for photos. Its bus powered and Firewire 800 so I think you'd have your bases covered if you go for it.

    Like you, the inner drive was VERY important to me as well and I've always had great luck w/ Seagates. Whenever I've had problems its because I didn't pay attention to details like that and simply went by the other specs & price. This thing just feels solid in my hands, I've had others that have felt like toys in comparison.

    I purchased mine in Vancouver at *the* digital audio place, Annex Pro.
     
  15. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2005
    #15
    I bought the Glyph PortaGig 800 (from here) and believe I've gotten my money's worth. It seems quality all the way with its metal enclosure and quality hard drive (I opened it up just like you described (very easy) and found a Seagate 160GB SATA Momentus 5400.3 (ST9160821AS) inside).
    I assume the Firewire/USB bridge board is the same for the 7200 and 5400 RPM versions from Glyph, so if I run out of space I'll probably replace the drive inside with a faster/bigger driver, using the same enclosure.

    Besides being a metal enclosure (which looks pretty cool) it also came with a leather (leather-like?) "wallet" which further protects it against shock and scratches. The wallet is partly open at each end allowing for USB/Firewire/power connectors to be attached and ventilation in the front without taking it out of the wallet.

    It connects to my Powerbook G4 via Firewire 800 without the need for an AC power adapter, but for USB it didn't work just via the cable. A special USB cable which has two USB connectors at one end is apparently supposed to draw power from two USB sockets for enough power, but as my Powerbook has its two USB sockets on each side of the computer the cable wasn't long enough to try this out. But I'll be using it with Firewire anyway.

    So there you have it: another happy Glyph owner! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction, MowingDevil. :)
     
  16. MowingDevil macrumors 68000

    MowingDevil

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    #16
    Hey, you're welcome - glad to hear you're happy! I was almost tempted by a cheaper alternative but really happy I went w/ Glyph. Which drive did you get (in GB) and how much did you pay if you don't mind me asking.

    I was wondering about those 2-pronged USB cables. So the idea is if you plug it into 2 USB slots it should power the drive like f/w? Not that I would or anything, I'll be going f/w but good to know.
     
  17. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    I'm happy I got mine as well.
    It's a 160 GB/5400 RPM drive. The eBay store sells them for $219, but has a "best offer" button, so I gave it a go with $190 and they accepted my offer!

    One minor letdown though (not Glyph's fault I might add) is that I tried connecting it to an iMac (which I was surprised to find only had Firewire 400 ports in addition to USB), so I wasn't able to transfer my files to that computer.
    I hadn't brought the USB cable with me either, but I don't think that would have helped as it needs two ports to get enough power, and I need to use one of the ports for something else, so bus-powered USB is most likely out of the question.

    The solution is probably to get a Firewire 800 to Firewire 400 adapter. Does anyone know if using such an adapter will still let me use the drive without the need of a power adapter, but use the Firewire port's bus-power?
     
  18. HiFiGuy528 macrumors 68000

    HiFiGuy528

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    Jul 24, 2008
    #18
    I am using a Lacie Firewire/USB 320GB Rugged portable. It can be upgraded to 500GB when I am ready. I love it!
     
  19. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2005
    #19
    MowingDevil: Yes, the idea behind the dual USB connectors to one cable is that you get twice as much juice out of the computer for the hard drive than by just using one USB port.
    I tried using a regular USB cable for the drive, but it sort of "hick up'd" trying to start, but failing and giving off a sort of beep sound (probably the drive motor trying to spin up).
    Then I tried it with the two USB connectors and it worked just fine.
    To my surprise the iMac in question has 3 USB ports, all the while I thought it only had two!

    But I'm going to try to find a Firewire 800 to 400 adapter so I can use it with Firewire.

    By the way, does your drive get very hot when having run a while? A while being something like 20-30 minutes I guess.
    I first thought it had overheated because I ran it while in its protective "leather" case, but after removing it from its case and experiencing the same thing I'm wondering if that's just the way hard drives behave.
    I can put my hand on the metal case of the Glyph drive without burning myself, but it is indeed very warm. Should I be worried?
     

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