College student looking to build an external backup drive.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by nehas91, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. nehas91 macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2008
    I'm hoping I can get some advice on what would be the best configuration in terms of speed and price on building an external hard drive.
    I currently have a bulky WD MyBook 500Gb external HD but it's a pain in the rear to have to put it in my backpack & carry it home on the weekends(occasionally carry it around campus too). It takes up a lot of space, is heavy and I just don't want to deal with that anymore. I basically need it to backup my music, pictures and college work if that makes a difference.

    So I was looking on sites like newegg and tigerdirect to buy separate hard drive and an enclosure for it. I have a MacBook Pro Unibody(mid 2009) so I wanted to utilize the Firewire 800 & Usb 2.0 features but I haven't had much luck finding drives and enclosures that fit my requirements.
    Also, is there a significant difference between SATA 3.0 and 6.0? Which one do I need? I would prefer a small physical disk size, 2.5 but are they better than the 3.5 ones?

    Any pointers would be appreciated, and links would be very helpful too. I'm looking for around a $120-150 budget, but if I can get some for less that would be awesome too.
  2. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    just get one of theose passport drives

    they are nice and compact
  3. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    So you want a portable drive, which only works with 2.5" drives.

    TONS of portable USB 2 drives out there, heres a 640 gig one for $100.

    Now, if you want Firewire, thats gonna cost you a bit more

    FW800 even more than that:

    Building one isnt a bad idea, but you wont anything.

    A crappy bare USB 2 case is $15ish, but a 640 gig drive is $120, $35 more than the deal above...

    FW 400 case is about $35, and if you were to say drop in a smaller 320 gig drive -- then you start to save...

    320 for $55

    $32 case:
  4. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    The Seagate Freeagent series is pretty good. Nowadays building your own drive doesn't save you much, especially with portable drives.
  5. MacUser09 macrumors regular

    Sep 26, 2009
  6. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    You can put together a Macally 250CC PHRS-250CC firewire 400/USB 2 case (about $32) and a Seagate 500 gig 5400 RPM drive (about $85) and a FW400/FW800 cable or converter ($10-$15 or so).

    There are other vendors and options, but if you shop you can do it for $120-$130. If you want FW800 all the way it's going to cost more, but if you go FW400 via adapter, the enclosure's going to cost much less.

    I've made up and distributed several 500GB backup solutions of the kind I've described, and they are all functioning perfectly and are great TM backup drives. Needless to say, with 2.5" drives they are all cable-powered.

    Installing the drive in the enclosure is trivially easy.
  7. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
  8. nehas91 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2008
    Okay so Firewire 800 is out of the question. Right now I'm trying to decide between Firewire 400/USB 2.0 or just USB 2.0. Is Firewire 400 really considerably faster than usb 2.0 or would 2.0 work just fine for a college student?

    Would this work with this Enclosure

    So it being cable-powered, does that mean that it doesn't a AC power thing that plugs in an outlet?
  9. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    Correct you don't need a power adapter for truly portability
  10. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    Firewire really is faster, but that depends on what you plan on doing with this drive.

    Heres a recent test:

    Since its just for backup and iTunes, then firewire isnt really necessary IMHO, USB 2 is more than enough for those.

    But if you plan on doing more with it, then firewire would be preferred.

    So if you are going to spend $100, get the 640 gig one I linked to.

    If you think you want firewire, get the macally case monok and I linked to.

    FWIW, I think the clear OWC cases are so-so, they havent changed the design in 8+ years, and I just dont find the quality all that great, certainly not $15 better than the macally case...
  11. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I just thought I'd suggest that you (also) consider an online backup. Mozy, Carbonite, Jungledisk - as long as you have access to a reasonably fast connection these make great, automated backup solutions, and you don't have to concern yourself with loss, theft, damage, etc. Prices are low and are finally getting competitive with doing it yourself on your own drive.
  12. xlii macrumors 68000


    Sep 19, 2006
    Millis, Massachusetts
    If you have a FW800 port, get an enclosure that also has FW800 as an option. It will be so much faster... hours faster... when doing a large backup than usb. You can check newegg, amazon and this site:
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Now, if you want Firewire, thats gonna cost you a bit more"

    For a 2.5" form factor, this is what I'd get. Check the connections on the back, to see why it's worth paying just a bit more for this one.

    They come as "empty enclosures", too - $89. Very handy if you can find a bare 2.5" SATA drive on the cheap...

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