DIY external hard drive for n00b

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by inlimbo, Jun 3, 2006.

  1. inlimbo macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2005
    Sydney, Australia

    I was looking to buy an external and a lot of people round here recommend that you should just build your own. It's cheaper that way and you can pick a good hard drive. So thats what I want to do.

    But I don't know anything about how to do it or what to buy? I figure I would go with a seagate drive. I have always used seagates with my PCs and havent had any problems. Seagates also come with a 5 year warranty. Is seagate the way to go?

    I also figured I would go for 250 GB - 300GB. Seems to have the sweet spot it terms of GBs per dollar.

    What do I want to use the drive for? Well Im down to 34 GB free (100 GB disk). I want to do a regular clone my whole HD (in case the PB's HD fails etc) and also want to use it to hold data that I don't really need on my PB. e.g. old assignments, mp3s, dvds etc...

    I want to have a FW drive. As my PB has FW800 I thought that would be the way to go. But I understand that FW800 does not = FW400 * 2 in terms of speed.

    Here are the drives i was thinking of getting

    Seagate ST3250824AS 3.5INC Barracuda7200.9,250GB,7200RPM,8MB CACHE,SATA2 3Gb/s NCQ
    $147.84 AUD

    Seagate ST3300622AS 3.5INC Barracuda7200.9,300GB,7200RPM,16MB CACHE,SATA 2 3Gb/s NCQ
    $189.75 AUD

    The cases:
    I think these macpower cases are the best looking. But I don't understand the difference between them. Some have different Bridge Chipsets - i don't even know what that means.

    IceCube II Pleiades FireWire 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure
    FW 400 2 port (6 pin)
    $119 AUD

    IceCube II Pleiades FireWire/USB2.0 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure
    FW 400 * 2 port (6 pin), USB2.0 * 1 Port
    $135 AUD

    IceCube II Pleiades FireWire 800/400 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure
    FW 800 (2 ports), FW 400 (1 port)
    $169 AUD

    IceCube 3.5" FireWire 800/400/USB2.0 Hard Drive Enclosure
    FW 800 (IEEE1394b) 2 ports (9pin), FW 400 (1394a) 1 port (6pin), USB2.0 1 port
    $189 AUD

    MacPower M9-DX Mac mini FireWire/USB2.0 Hard Drive Enclosure
    FireWire 400 3 ports (6pin), USB 2.0 High Speed 3 Ports (Type A) 1 Port (Tybe B downstream)
    $179 AUD

    Help... Please guide me o wise ones
  2. khisayruou macrumors 6502a


    Aug 21, 2004
    Seagate is popular due to their long reputation of bringing out quality drives and of course their great warranty. Seagate is a fine choice.

    Don't worry about bridge chipsets, its just the electronics that allows the external to interface with your computer.

    Alright, you provided a link for almost every possible combination for external drives. So you need to choose how you want to connect and if you will ever be using the external device on other computers.

    For example, I have a firewire + usb external, reason being, almost all other computers have a usb, so if I ever need to transfer data, I will have that option available. For fast speeds, I just use the firewire on the PB.

    Firewire 800 seems like overkill and not very many computers have this connection, its also pricey, but I have no usage experience so I can't really comment on it.

    The Maxpower mini was designed to sit under a mac mini, you could use it, but its a bit larger. It does however have extra ports should you ever need it.

    Shop around a bit more, those prices seem really high. A good 3.5" firewire + usb external should be around $40 US. Current rates are 1 AU = 0.75 US correct?
  3. tristan macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2003
    high-rise in beautiful bethesda
    "Build your own" is the way to go, though I wouldn't exactly call it "building", more just plugging it in. :p But are you sure you want an external drive? Sounds like a hassle with a notebook, plugging, unplugging, etc. I wonder if there's anything you can buy that will hang off your wireless network.
  4. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus


    Mar 10, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    One thing though, with those prices there isn't too much of a difference in just buying a Seagate combo drive:

    300 GB, from $326 or a 400GB from $439.
  5. inlimbo thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Im just about to order one of these cases but I have a problem. My PB is quickly running out of ports. It only has 2 USB, 1 FW400 and 1 FW800.
    My 2 USB's are already used up and my iPod uses the FW400 port to charge off.

    IceCube II Pleiades FireWire/USB2.0 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure
    FW 400 * 2 port (6 pin), USB2.0 * 1 Port
    $135 AUD

    The above drive comes with 2 FW400 ports. So does that mean I can plug the case into my PB's FW 400 port and stick my iPod into the FW400 port on the back of the external case and charge off that?
  6. DZ/015 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 23, 2003
    New England
    Yes, you can daisy chain your firewire devices.

    Also, take a look at Other World Computing's Mercury Elite cases. They are cheaper and pretty reliable. I have used one for 2 years now without issue.

    I noticed you linked to SATA drives. I have yet to see an SATA drive enclosure. I have only seen ATA/IDE interfaces for the drives.

    And definitely stick with enclosures that use the oxford 911 chipset. You'll have less compatibility issues.
  7. inlimbo thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks DZ/015!!! You champ - you just answered all my problems! I only just realised that those cases probably don't support SATA drives. Unfortunately I can't get OWC drives here in Oz and I don't want to have to muck around getting one from the states and then have to get a transformer to change the voltage etc...

    I will stick to 911 chipset and an Ultra-ATA drive. Thanks again!
  8. inlimbo thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks everyone for your help!

    I bought the icecube case with the 2 x FW400 ports and 1 x USB port. I stuck a 300GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache Seagate drive in there. Following DZ/015's suggestion Im daisy-chaining my iPod off the second FW400 port.

    Im just at this moment using SuperDuper to do a clone of my PB HD onto my new external.

    It was so easy! And SuperDuper is such a simple little program (though it does cost $40.11 AUD - but im not complaining).

    Thanks again


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