External storage solution for my MBA: dilemma.

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by macmba, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. macmba macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    #1
    Well, I have a dilemma.

    I want a small and light 2.5"-sized external HDD for my time machine backups and external data. Problem is, on the MBA at least, there are no thunderbolt devices yet, and the one from Lacie seems to need its own power source, and it looks like it was from 20 years ago!

    I got a 500 GB, USB 3.0-2.0 GoFlex 2.5" HDD from Seagate, its nice and light, but its 5400 RPM, and my MBA only supports USB 2.0, so it took a long time to do my 50GB backup. We are talking more than 1 hour.

    I wish there are thunderbolt to USB 3.0 converters.

    Sooo, all that said, what is the currently best solution for an external storage solution that would be fast and light?
     
  2. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

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    #2
    As of today, USB 2.0. So you already got it. :D
     
  3. urkel macrumors 68030

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    Nov 3, 2008
    #3
    There's a lot of appealing stuff when you hear someone give the sales pitch for Thunderbolt but in the end it may be all promise and no product. Its been 10mo and theres really nothing in the consumer class market so it looks like we're stuck with USB2 since "Mother knows best" and Apple wont give us USB3 (either ports or TB dongles).

    So, if looking for the best solution for RIGHT NOW then I'd say its the Seagate GoFlex Portable. Its not going to be able to use the included USB3 speeds and its still 5400rpm but the GoFlex series has replaceable interface ports and Seagate claims they will offer a Thunderbolt version this year. They had these on sale at Best Buy last week for $119 + $10 gift card but I didn't buy it because I really have no faith in anyone regarding Thunderbolt so I'm simply going to wait and see.

    BTW. My current external is the old WD Black 500GB 7200 drive from my old Macbook Pro and put inside an old portable case. Its a fast drive but its limited by USB2 so I understand how frustrated you are with all these unnecessary bottlenecks. My hopes is for a USB 3 Thunderbolt dongle so I can utilize all these USB3 drives I own.
     
  4. mac jones macrumors 68040

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    Apr 6, 2006
    #4
    It's perhaps unwise to wait for Thunderbolt. The previous poster is right.

    It's been 10 months, and really i'm not hearing a lot of buzz. Barely a whisper really.

    Doesn't look good at all for the short term.

    I have a go-flex 1TB and it's ok. It's plastic, which makes me nervous about heat, but that's probably not much of an issue. After all, Seagate sells these (doesn't really add up does it :D ).

    Anyway, the Go-flex is a good candidate for the elusive Thunderbolt, as pointed out, they have 'promised' an adapter that 'supposedly' you could use on a drive you buy today.
     
  5. macmba thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 10, 2011
    #5
    I agree.

    I was thinking about external SSD drives, but those are $$$$$

    Currently a backup of everything I have (about 50GB) on an external HDD 7200 RPM takes exactly 40 minutes (USB 2.0).

    The 2.5" GoFlex I have is 5400 RPM and that takes exactly 40 minutes as well. That means, the difference of RPM is not making any differences on USB 2.0. Maybe it will if USB 3.0 is used, I don't know, and I cannot test it.

    Whats worse is I don't think those thunderbolt external drives will be cheap. We are talking probably $200-$300 when they come out, and who knows how long b4 we grab one at $80.

    I really think the best bet right now is a thunderbolt to USB 3.0 converter. Even at $20 or $30 I would grab it, and then add another $20 or so for a thunderbolt cable.

    So ya the Flex is so far the only option at the moment, and it takes 40 minutes to backup my 50GB data. Thanks to THUNDERBOLT!!!
     
  6. mac jones macrumors 68040

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    #6
    Yeah, a TB to USB3 adapter would be great. So would a cheap thunderbolt enclosure form China (were are the Chinese when you need them? :D ).

    But i haven't heard much about any of this.
     
  7. deeddawg macrumors 604

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    #7
  8. macmba thread starter macrumors member

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    #8
    What I really wonder now is: would a 7200 RPM HDD be faster than 5400 one, under USB 3.0? So far under 2.0 it makes 0 difference.

    One hint is that if the manufacture makes it USB 3.0 under 5400 RPM, that tells you something.
     
  9. mac jones macrumors 68040

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    Apr 6, 2006
    #9
    Yes it will be faster. USB 2 is at this point 'very old and tired'. You move to FW800, USB3 (better), and hopefully TB (best), and the differences in the drives will make a difference, as they are approaching internal functionality.
     
  10. alecgold macrumors 65816

    alecgold

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    #10
    Of only i could get a tb 2,5" enclosure. I have an 256gb ssd laying around that I would like to put to good use!
    At this moment I have the ssd in a FireWire enclosure. When the thunderbolt cinema display comes out I can connect it through the display. That would be an expensive solution :D
     
  11. Stein357 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    It only has to do one backup of the whole drive for TM, then it just does the changes. Or am I missing something here and you do 50GB backups frequently?
     
  12. macmba thread starter macrumors member

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    #12
    Where is that from, or is it your personal opinion? I am asking because if Seagate makes a 5400 RPM drive which is USB 3.0 compatible, AND it is supposed to achieve the USB 3.0 rates, then honestly at this point USB 3.0 does NOT need a drive faster than 5400 RPM, in which case buying a 7200 RPM drive is useless, unless there is other benefits, such as for example accessing the drive from different programs at the same time, etc etc.

    The way I think about it is this: if my MBA is 128GB, I would need that much on an external HDD + some extra space, in other words, a 320 GB external HDD is totally fine. Now am not an expert on RPM speed and how that affects functionality, but so far a 50GB backup took the same time with a 5400 and a 7200 RPM, and the HDD drive is 5400 on a USB 3.0.

    Anyone tested 2 USB 3.0 drives one with 7200 and one with 5400 RPM and calculated any speed differences?
     
  13. eckthroi macrumors regular

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    Mar 10, 2011
    #13
    Ummm I got the same thing for my Air and when I did a 64GB backup to my TimeMachine it only took 37 minutes. I wonder why the big difference? Anyways I dont think this should continue to be a problem for you unless you back up this much data frequently. If you dont why not just keep what you have until better TB options become available.
     
  14. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

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    #14
    My first backup took a couple of hours over WiFi. Now it just takes a couple of minutes every time. No big deal.

    I had to do a restore, and that took HOURS. That was painful... But, I left it cooking and went outside and played with the dog.

    The dog appreciates the Time Machine restore over WiFi... :cool:
     
  15. bobr1952 macrumors 68020

    bobr1952

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    #15
    I think speed is overrated for simple file transfers. I really like the Seagate GoFlex drives and use one for my iTunes and another just for backup purposes. Sure it takes time by so what, its not like you have to watch it backup. I just made a backup of a 500GB drive to a GoFlex and it took a long time--most of the day--but it didn't impact me in any way.
     
  16. macmba thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 10, 2011
    #16
    Am just not happy they did not put USB 3.0 in there, and less happy that they put a thunderbolt port of no use. I will probably not bother with a thunderbolt external storage device until they are under $100, and they are the same size that of a Flex drive, in a 2.5" format.


    eckthroi: I believe it has to do how many files/folders, because when data is copied, it might take more time depending on the structure of the data: for example, One file of 10GB won't take the same time as 10,000 files of 10GB in size, at least on a HDD this seems to be the case, not sure about SSDs.
     
  17. mac jones macrumors 68040

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    Apr 6, 2006
    #17
    I was a assuming that USB3 would make full use of the faster drive. There's a lot of specks, and it's complicated (for me). Compounded by the fact that some 5400 drives are about as fast as the 7200 ones. It all gives me a headache frankly :D

    I don't know
     
  18. richpjr macrumors 68030

    richpjr

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    #18
    A side question as I am interested in a GoFlex drive to back up my MBA - do they come with NTFS drivers like the desktop versions do?
     
  19. eckthroi macrumors regular

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    Mar 10, 2011
    #19
    Oh ok, I am new to the technical world. I am doing everything for the first time and learning the ins and outs. This was the first time I ever used an external. Thus being said maybe thats why I didnt have so many files to be transferred.
     
  20. macmba thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 10, 2011
    #20
    They have included MAC drivers. But for the TM backups, it would have to be formatted with MAC's partition anyhow, use Disk Utility to do so. Note that if you partition the HDD, you won't be able to make encrypted backups.
     

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