External storage - desktop or portable?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Tjmckay4, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. Tjmckay4 macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2014
    Perth, West Aus
    Now that I've ordered my base iMac with 512gb SSD, I need to buy a 3tb external hard drive for my data (mainly photos and videos; lots which are 4k).

    What are people getting? Desktop (which is faster but needs a power supply) or portable (can be conveniently velcroed on the back of the iMac but slower and slightly more expensive)?
  2. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Mar 10, 2011
    If both the portable and desktop is 7200RPM, I would think they would be equal in performance using the same connection type. I use both desktop and portable HDs. I use a desktop Raid1 over TB2 (for my movie rips) and 2 external USB3 HDs (one for Time Machine backups and the other to store media such pictures).
  3. JustSoWicked1 macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2013
    Nothing about a spinning external hard drive will be fast. I would look into a NAS if you are looking for speed and if you get one with cloud service you don't have to worry about taking it with you. Personally I love my Synology box.
  4. dsc888 macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2010
    Boston, MA USA
    That's how I setup my new 2017 iMac minus the NAS. I just took advantage of the current Western Digital easy store 8TB external USB3 drives on sale at Bestbuy for $160 and got 2 of them. One for TM and one for Media. That should last a while. They both came with WD's Red NAS drives with 256 MB cache and tests at 190+Mb/sec in Blackmagic. For non speed critical needs where reliability and cost are paramount, the dual external drive setup really hits the spot.
  5. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    I use a Synology NAS currently with 2 x 3tb WD RED HDDs in RAID 1. Plus an external USB HDD.

    A NAS is nice for several reasons.

    1. Its not just limited to the Mac. Any device can access it even game consoles like Xbox and Playstations, smart tvs, iPhone, iPad, etc.

    2. Use it for Time Machine or other back up services for Macs and Windows.

    3. Works as a convenient go between for Windows (NTFS) and Mac (HFS+ soon to be APFS).

    4. Easily upgradable for larger HDDs.

    5. Filled with tons of tools. Monthly drive health test are run and emailed to you. If you see a bad sector you can swap out the drive and allow the NAS to rebuild the RAID with no effort or data loss.

    6. A nice enough NAS can function as an awesome little media server (Plex for example) and transcode the data server side so you can through any and all media at it and play it to any an all devices.

    7. Easy RAID setup and management for data redundancy, speed or both (need more than a 2 bay NAS for both).

    8. Away from your computer making it less likely to be damaged if something affects your iMac or room its in i.e. theft, small fire or water damage, etc.

    9. Overall just a ton of flexibility and very few limitations.

    I guess some of the downsides could be speed, it will fluctuate depending on network settings and congestion. Ease of use, while they make it easy it will require some effort, learning and understanding on your part. While not necessary its helpful to learn all the basic terms like SMB, DHCP, FPS, AFP, etc and learning how Users, Groups, Shared Folders, Quotas on the folders etc and how to leverage them to your benefit. Needless to say its a powerful tool to have on the network.

    For example I have a Time Machine user specific password for a Time Machine folder with a 1tb data quota (limit). So effectively time machine only sees that 1tb and can't use anymore so it doesn't fill up the drives.

    I guess I should mention a NAS shouldn't be your ONLY back up even with RAID 1. A portable external drive is still nice to have. I use them for manual back ups (just drag and drop important data). I have 2 external portable HDDs, I keep one at a friends house in his safe (encrypted of course) and one in my safe at home. I'll update the one at my house and swap them out occasionally when I goto my buddies. He does the same. That way in the event one of our houses burns down, robbed, etc. we still have a our irreplaceable data. Online sources isn't a bad idea either but I haven't ventured into that yet.

    That said if you just need more space. I would look into a quality external USB SSD like Samsungs T3. Velco it to the back of the iMac and call it a day. You already have an internal SSD for booting and core apps, no reason to make it too complicated. The T3 will be lightning fast, silent, not overly expensive (depending on size), and small.

    Here is an Amazon link to the T3.
  6. Tjmckay4 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2014
    Perth, West Aus
    Thanks for your extensive reply cynics. I did once have a synology NAS and I found it over complicated my setup and it's just overkill for what I need. I do have a Nvidia Shield that could make use of it but I'm just going to use one of my existing hard drives for that.

    I'd love to get a Samsung T3 but the 1tb version is still a bit pricey.
  7. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    A 7200rpm 2.5" platter-based drive in a USB3 enclosure will do if the absolute speed of an SSD isn't necessary. Be aware that some larger-capacity 2.5" drives might still require an external power supply (not enough "bus power" from the laptop).

    SSD's are indeed faster, but you "pay for the speed".
  8. Danno86 macrumors newbie


    Jul 20, 2017
    SLC, UT
    +1 for a NAS. I recently got a Synology NAS as well and the apps and features it has is amazing. I love its OS and am glad I didn't build my own. Having all our photos from our iPhones automatically uploaded, having our Macs back up to it, using it as a Plex server (bought the 914+), and the amount of space it can provide you (I have 4 x 8TB drives, but using SHR 2, so have 16TBs of useable space).

    Although I do feel USB drives serve a purpose, I cannot go back to living in a household without a NAS to fulfill main storage.
  9. passingapple, Aug 1, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017

    passingapple macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2012
    Well, 9to5mac's Jeff Benjamin has an article that may interest OP. He has the 2017 base model (with 1TB fusion) and assuming that it's not a faux pas to mention that here at Macrumors:

    It's not available yet, it seems, but this Akitio Thunder3 Quad Mini he mentioned may work as well.
    His setup seems to be Akitio ($329 retail) + 3-4 SanDisk 1TB SSDs (around $250-270 each @ Amazon), RAID 0 being optional. Don't know if this setup is cheaper than the aforementioned Synology NAS. One would assume so since it's much more basic, but I am not familiar with NAS.

    However it still may be an overkill. So a still cheaper route is just buying one of those tiny portable USB SSDs and/or cheap 2-3 TB HD ($70-150) as needed and skip these drive enclosures. For really casual consumers who just want backup drives, it is good enough.

    I have a Samsung T1 500GB (older ver of T3) from a couple years ago. Those tiny SSD are quite nice - although it's probably not for a (sole) main backup and more like the secondary complimentary one.
  10. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    This Akitio T3 bay has been out of stock all through July. I heard they should be available again early August but we haven't seen them yet. It looks like a very good solution for external storage on the new iMac.
  11. passingapple, Aug 2, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017

    passingapple macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2012
    To add, 1 TB internal SSD route choices appear to be aforementioned SanDisk Ultra II, similarly priced Crucial MX300, or Samsung 850 EVO (ignoring the PRO version), at least on Amazon. Toshiba is only available through some random 3rd party sellers at the moment.

    Samsung is probably most reliable, but also cost a bit more (around $70-100). But based on Amazon pricing history, it was as low as $250 last November (during Black Friday/Cyber Monday week), so it could be had for a good deal. That's as low as ScanDisk 1TB ever was on Amazon.

    A (much) cheaper alternative for the Akitio T3 mini is perhaps getting something like "Sabrent 2.5-Inch SATA to USB 3.0 Tool-free External Hard Drive Enclosure" or similar cases that takes internal SSD. A few different brands to choose from, all very cheap, around $9-13. Yeah it will use USB 3.0 speed, but so do the most of cheap 2-3 TB hard drives (and the T3). If not going to do RAID and only going to use as a backup drive, it looks fine to me and seems to be an alternative to getting Samsung T3. Won't be as good looking as Akitio or as portable as T3, but it's an option. If timed right, one can get the Evo 850 and one of these enclosures for around $260 pre-tax.
  12. Tjmckay4 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2014
    Perth, West Aus
    I think at this stage I'll just use my old 2tb WD My book 3.5 hard drive to store my photo/videos and other data. I'll wait until 1tb SSD's come down in price.

    No sense spending ~ $100 - $200 on a 2-3tb portable HD when I'll be buying a SSD down the track.

    Thanks for all your comments.
  13. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    It seems uncertain if SSD prices will go down much in the near future. Except for rare sales - the general price for the 1TB 850 EVO is very stable and sort of going up - not down. ~$315 or so is the current low water near as I can tell. Very rarely going below $300.
  14. passingapple macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2012
  15. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    T3s and T5s all sound good but I find it a drag that we take one of only two 40Gbps ports and dead end it with a 6Gbps device (or even 10Gbps raid) with no way to now use the 75 to 85% of the available BW. I would find a Thunderbolt3 SSD with two TB3 ports hugely more attractive.
  16. jaybar macrumors 6502a


    Dec 11, 2008
    I have three Glyph Atom SSD drives. They take up very little room on my desk. They do not use an external power supply. I am very pleased with them. I use them with my late 2013 iMac 27 inch.
  17. passingapple, Aug 3, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017

    passingapple macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2012
    T3 only comes with a USB A connector, so it will take up one of the 4 USB ports, not the 2 thurderbot 3 (USB-C) ones. One will have to purchase a USB-C to USB-C cable separately. It's not really better than T1, but perhaps a bit more durable due to metal casing instead of plastic (but bulkier and heavier). I have heard some folks recommending T1 over T3 because of it.

    Don't know about T5's cable situation due to lack of info.

    But again, you're paying for the small form factor/portability. It goes well as a laptop companion, but for imac, it's not necessary to get T1/T3/T5 IMO. An internal SSD(s)+adapter/enclosure/bay should be a way to go (with additional cheap 2-3 TB HD as a secondary fail-safe backup) for a stationary setup like imac. Also 1TB T1/T3 are now hard to find as they've been discontinued and stocks are more or less depleted. Only available currently on some random 3rd party sites with a huge markup.

    Glyph Atom SSD appears to be an alternative option for T1/T3/T5, but also a bit more expensive.
  18. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    I didn't know that! So the published speeds though - aren't these for a usb-c to usb-c port connection? I thought if you went down to USB-A it is just USB3.0 (on the iMac) and does like 350 to 380MB/s. Rather cheap though to sell a $400 drive and not give the cable that every new MBP owner needs.
  19. PmgKeys macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2017

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