CLUELESS on what External HDD to buy ..

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Khryz, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. Khryz macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    #1
    I want to apologize off the bat because I know this is a popular topic but I seriously did search these forums for about 4 hours yesterday for external HDD related threads.

    As soon as I found a drive that most people here like I'll search for it on NewEgg or Amazon and while it might get decent reviews the negative reviews are terrible - being dead upon arrival, poor customer support, losing so much valuable data, etc.

    Let me tell you what I need. 1 TB drive with USB and Firewire 800. I was looking at Seagates and MyBook's and they both have their share of haters.

    This is the first time where searching for some technological piece of equipment that I have no idea what direction to go in and I need help.

    Any comments I'd appreciate.
     
  2. zelmo macrumors 603

    zelmo

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Mac since 7.5
    #2
    While I don't have any stats or links to back this up, I think that people with something negative to say about a product are at least twice as likely to post a review as people who are happy with their purchase. Take everything you read on the web, including this post, with several grains of salt.

    That being said, I recently purchased a MyBook 1TB drive with USB/FW800/eSATA and am very pleased with it so far. I use it to store media files I don't want to clog up my MBP with.
    I also have a G-Tech G-Drive Q 500GB drive to use for Time Machine. It's a little quieter than the MyBook and it looks a lot nicer with my MBP, but I have no idea which one will last longer or perform better over the long haul.

    You pays your money and you takes your chances.:)
     
  3. dubhe macrumors 65816

    dubhe

    Joined:
    May 1, 2007
    Location:
    Norwich, UK
    #3
    It's all very much opinion, not fact. For everyone who has a DOA product 100 received theirs in perfect condition. Most people stick to 'their' brand they have always used until one goes wrong.

    My advice, don't buy the cheapest, buy one that does the job you want and buy it from a reputable reseller. For example, I buy from John Lewis in the UK because they deal with all warranties in-house, so it doesn't matter what the actual manufacturers technical support is like. Apple support for third party products is c**p, they just tell you to contact the manufacturer.

    Personally I use a WD Elements drive and a Lacie d2, the latter has usb and FW800 which I bought five years ago, I have had no problems but I am sure others will disagree, but then someone always will.
     
  4. bdj33ranch macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    #4
    I previously ran a Lacie d2 for a couple of years and had no problems with it. I passed it on to my nephew when I gave him my eMac. It is still working fine. I currently have an aluminum iMac and running a Quad Interface 1Tb OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro. I liked the quad interface option, warranty, software package and rebate offer that came with the drive. I see they are now even offering an 'Enterprise' version.
     
  5. Khryz thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    #5
    Thanks for the replies everyone, and the theory that people who have a negative experience are more likely to post reviews make a lot of sense.

    I'm in the US so which retailer do you think would be the best choice? I've always gone to Newegg for electronics stuff but have never had to RMA something so not sure of their process ..

    I'm also leaning more towards the WD MyBook Studio 1 TB.

    Also, is it pretty common to have an external HDD back-up your main external HDD? Lol.
     
  6. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    Location:
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    #6
    Newegg is the most reliable in terms of Customer Service, speed of shipping, and general ease of use.

    Whatever drive you get, make sure it has a good warranty (5 years is pretty standard). If you can do without a combo USB/Firewire enclosure you can save money building your own (internal + enclosure).
     
  7. Khryz thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    #7
    If I build my own, what sort of enclosures and HDD's do you recommend? And with no combo USB/Firewire, which do you usually get, one or the other?

    And these tend to be more reliable than popular HDD's like WD and Lacie?
     
  8. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #8
    I like the Bytecc enclosures; mainly because they use standard 3-prong female power plugs instead of the stupid proprietary ones that usually come with custom externals. I usually go with USB.

    I don't know if they're "more reliable" but I certainly consider Seagate and WD a cut above the rest. The main advantage to building your own is you get to control what kind of drive you have; with LaCie I think they use crappy Maxtors (still). Plus you're paying a premium for a design that doesn't really make a difference in performance. Why bother?
     
  9. liquidtrend macrumors 6502

    liquidtrend

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2008
    Location:
    HOUSTON, TX
    #9
    i havent had an problems with any of my wd mybooks.
    i recently picked up a 1tb off of amazon for under a hundred.
     
  10. Horst Guest

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #10
    Most Firewire drives have USB as well, I'd go FW for speed and convenience.

    I have some of those enclosures, very happy with them.

    A custom solution has the advantage of choosing your own harddrive, and easy access to it if you want to replace it.

    It's not more or less reliable per se, but I assume many of the issues with WD and Lacie drives you hear about are due to interface related tweaks for extra features, like sleep modes, backup functions etc..
     
  11. SHIVERINGGOAT macrumors member

    SHIVERINGGOAT

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    #11
    If your budget stretches the Drobo is a great tool - I have 4 x 1TB Western Digital Drives in mine - I know it could always fail but it make me feel a lot better about all the stuff I have.
    :)
     
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #12
    Even when I don'tt set out to build (no "assemble") my on external drive I end up doing just that. What happens is that I'll buy a (say) 120GB drive and then in a few years it becomes to small so I replace the hard drive and re-cycle the enclosure. I must have four external encloses re-used this way.

    WHat to shop for? Get the interfaces you need and then look for aluminum enclosures that don't have/need a fan. The better boxes use the enclosure itself as a heat sink.
     
  13. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #13
    I recently bought the IcyDock MB559UEB1-S and put in a Seagate 1.5TB HDD. It runs very cool, quietly and fast. It uses the Oxford 924 Firewire 800 chipset. It also matches very well in design with the aluminum iMac.

    It was $99 at Newegg but has gone back to $149. It is still $99 through this vendor on Amazon though.
     
  14. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #14
    There are only a handful of large hard drive manufacturers left: WD, Seagate (owns Maxtor), Hitachi, Samsung, etc. Most of the hard drive manufacturers make their own enclosures as well. Then there are the enclosure makers like LaCie who make pretty cases (and Mac friendly), but you have no idea what hard drive spec is used.

    As long as you're buying a hard drive from a major manufacturer you're going to find good and bad stories. It's true that people with negative experiences are more likely to share, but people who are more opinionated are more likely to post online ;) You can search under my postings to see my 8+ drive setup.

    The best place to look is their own support forums to see how they treat their customers. Some like WD have apparently closed their forum due to the number of negative postings. That doesn't mean that all WD hard drives are bad, just that you shouldn't make your purchase based on the 3 or 5yr warranty offered. 3 years is a long time for a hard drive so expect to replace it during that period. I've had a few warranty hard drive replacements and found what you're getting is a refurbished model anyway that usually doesn't last as long as a new unit.

    Do you want a unit that's guaranteed to work with Mac? There are numerous WD MyBook Home problems posted where the FW400 port doesn't mount if directly connected to iMac Al models - FW enumeration problem so must be daisy chained first. How techy are you, do you care about sustained transfer speeds (video editing) vs random access time (apps). Nothing wrong with the MyBook Studio - but it has a 5400RPM hard drive NOT a 7200RPM hard drive - not very noticeable unless you care about every ounce of performance.

    Some models don't work daisy chained unless the device before it is powered on. This is important when you have several units and don't want all of them powered on.

    If you want complete control (ability to upgrade to larger HD in the future) and care about speeds/specs/RAID then you're much better off buying your own enclosure and HD - very easy to assemble.

    If you want an easy solution then any assembled unit marked "for Mac" is a good bet - just find the best price for a 1TB FW800 - and don't worry if it is WD, LaCie, Seagate etc.
     
  15. Khryz thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    #15
    Thank you for the great post.

    I am not very technie, which is why a lot of the above people who's posted messages kinda have gone over my head. In this situation I need to be spoonfed everything to get and/if how to put everything together.

    I want to be able to use a HDD with Time Machine and I'd also like to be able to save all my music and videos on it and yes, run off of the external HDD for editing in iMovie and Final Cut Express. Everything else can stay on my Mac.

    I seem to notice a lot of you techie guys on here though recommending building my own HDD with enclosure. Now I am all for that but I'd definitely want to buy everything from a reputable vendor like Newegg which has great customer service and return policies. Can you find everything you recommend on that site or another great retailer site? Firewire 800, 1 TB, and reliability is all that I need. I don't care if it is Seagate, WD, or Honda. :D

    This definitely isn't an impulse buy for me as I so want to order something now but I need to do more research with everyone's help!

    Thank you all for replying I could definitely use more links to enclosures and reliable harddrives that I could assemble together!!
     
  16. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a

    cosmokanga2

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    Canada, where we live in igloos.
    #16
    I purchased a WD Mybook Studio 1 terebyte last week and it works great. Haven't had any problems using with a unibody Macbook Pro as a Time Machine Back Up and storage solution. I got it from Apple's site for $256 but for the firewire 800 and capacity is worth it. It is fan-less, but not silent. I can hear it read/writing to the disk in a very quite room, but it doesn't bother me. About the same sound level as my Mac. Doesn't get very hot and it self sleeps when inactive or the computer shuts down. I would highly recommend it.
     
  17. EB66 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    #17
    I personally enjoy the mybook, not sure what model it, i think studio, it has firewire 400, e-sata, and usb....i really like the way it looks which is half the reason i bought it, no problems with it
     
  18. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #18
    You'll need to partition whatever drive you wind up buying into a time machine partition and a normal partition for your music/videos/imovie/FCE files. It's not hard though.
    For example;
    Hard drive
    Enclosure

    Assembly takes 5 minutes if you take your time- all you need is a phillips head screw driver and somewhere that is relatively low-risk with regard to static electricity (read: not a carpet).
     
  19. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #19
    On any HD you can create one partition to run Time Machine and another one for separate storage. I noticed your profile states you have a Macbook? You realize that MB's only have FW400?

    OWC is well respected in the Mac community so you can either buy their enclosures or enclosure+HD. The single drive OWC Mercury Elite-Al Pro is a good unit. These instructions show how simple it is to install yourself. $179 gets you a 1TB drive with FW800 - ignore cache size as it makes little difference at this drive size. Always check what FW chipset is used, this enclosure uses the Oxford 924 (max 1TB drive?) - determines maximum size of hard drive. You can also buy the enclosure with the latest FW Oxford 934 chipset (supports up to 2TB drives) for $74.99 and add on a Hitachi Deskstar 1TB model 7K1000.B

    Currently in the 1TB drives, the Hitachi 7K1000.B, Samsung Spinpoint F1 and WD Caviar Black are well respected. Check this article and just focus on getting the best price. Any local computer store can probably sell you one of those listed HD's at a Newegg competitive price so you can just buy the enclosure by itself.

    There's nothing wrong with the WD MyBook series - the ones labelled Mac are more likely to be well tested with any Mac. The Studio is the only single drive unit with FW800, the Home edition is FW400. ALL WD external units use 5400RPM drives now which is why the box lists 30% energy savings (they're going after the Green market). The slower the drive spins, the less power required - transfer rate is also slightly slower but unless you're doing lots of video editing on that drive you probably won't notice. I owned 2 WD MyBook Home and 1 MyBook Pro II dual drive units. I won't buy them again because the cases don't allow you to upgrade to larger hard drives in the future and I do a lot of video and photography so 7200RPM speed drives over FW800 are important to me.
     
  20. wvuwhat macrumors 65816

    wvuwhat

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    Sep 26, 2007
    #20
    I've got a few MyBooks, no problems other than the time it takes for them to spin up.
     
  21. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #21
    As I said above I am using a 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda in an IcyDock MB559UEB1-S enclosure which uses the Oxford 924 chipset and it has no problems whatsoever recognizing the full capacity of the drive. Additionally, IcyDock says there currently is no max drive size limit for the enclosure.
     
  22. DarthTreydor macrumors 6502

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    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    #22
    i just had my 3 year old wd mybook die on me, fwiw...
     
  23. danielhayter macrumors member

    danielhayter

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Paris
    #23
    I picked up a 1tb Western Digital MyBook on amazon a few weeks ago for 120 Euro and it's been working great. Definitely go for big, the price between a 500 gb drive a 1 tb is small, and you get so much more use out of it. It's USB which is good enough for me, although from what I've read some prefer firewire. I would have preferred a drive that doesn't need a seperate cable for power, but from what i can tell most larger capacity drives have an AC cable. Go for big capacity from one of the big brands and you'll be fine.
     
  24. Khryz thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    #24
    Wow! LOL. It never crossed my mind that my older Macbook wouldn't have FW 800. I have a 2.16 GHz Macbook C2D I bought August 07.

    So I suppose I don't want just FW 800 then huh, that wouldn't work very well. ;)

    Okay so I'm going to look into building my own HDD. I will take everyone's suggestions and look into this more tonight when I get home from work. I'd easily put it together and take my time if it means the end result will be more reliable than a big name brand.
     
  25. Sehnsucht macrumors 65816

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    Sep 21, 2008
    #25
    Personally, Seagate is my preference. At the moment I've got a 250GB FireWire 800 HDD that I've had for about 6 months now...I thought I'd never use up 250GB until I started using Time Machine to back up to it. :D A few weeks after I got it, the internal HD in my mom's Dell took a s**t, so I got her a Seagate 500GB SATA and it's been great (now the only part of the computer that functions normally.) :D Also, I like how the external Seagates for Mac have the sleek "Mac look". :cool:
     

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