External USB Drive enclosures? Drives? Intel iMac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by netdog, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    Hi There,

    I am trying to find a good storage solution for my music collection and plan to get two external drives and mirror them. People seem very unhappy with the reliability of the all-in-one external drives, so I thought I would just get two good enclosures and two good 3.5" drives.

    Can anyone tell me if an external enclosure such such as the SATA-cases by Icy Box will work with my Intel-based iMac? Can anyone recommend any other cases? Are SATA boxes compatible with ATA and S-ATA drives? I will be connecting to the box via USB.

    Also what drives or enclosures do you recommend? I like the Icy Box because, by all accounts, it cools the drive well without a fan, and I do want to keep noise to a minimum.

    A friend has advised not to go above 250GB per drive for reliability, though I would like to go higher. Any differing thoughts? I would prefer 400 or 500GB drives.

    As for the current raid 1 options, I have had bad luck with Lacie reliability and the others seem very expensive. Your thoughts?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. Jon'sLightBulbs macrumors 6502a

    Jan 31, 2005
    Mad Dog USB + Firewire enclosure. Very cheap, and works very well. I'm using it with a 200 mb Maxtor hd connected to a powerbook. No problems at all. You don't need to get anything premium, because there isn't much differentiating enclosures. The Mad Dog doesn't have the Oxford chipset, which most people here will swear by. But no problems here.
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    In general, and enclosure will be Either SATA OR IDE (Parallel ATA) not both.

    Go with a Firewire enclosure rather than USB. Since the MBP has Firewire 400, there is no real reason to pay extra for a SATA-FW case. Go with an IDE 7200 RPM drive and a Firewire 400 or FW/USB combo enclosure.

    The case will limit the size of drive its power supply will support. Definitely check with the case mfg. for compatibility on 400 and 500 Gb,

    Why RAID1 for a music collection? RAID1 is only for when you have to mirror 2 drives and have the up-to-the-second identical. RAID1 over Firewire, unless the case itself has a hardware RAID controller, will bog the Firewire buss down.

    You would be better off not RAIDing at all, and use SuperDuper or a similar utility to make periodic backups - maybe once per night - betwen two separate drive.
  4. netdog thread starter macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    Thank your for your great answers! Two FW/USB ICY Box enclosures and two WD 320GBs on the way.

    FWIW, I am told that there is a nice Unix app that will keep drives mirrored via schedule that will also keeping beating on the drives to a minimum, going so far as to even only update modified sectors of a given file as opposed to copying the whole file again. It sounds quite promising.
  5. tivoboy macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2005
    nice deal

    there is a nice deal right now at buy.com

    149$ AR for a 300GB external mac mini type enclosure with three additional usb 2.0 ports.

    for drive and enclosure, I think this is a nice deal.

  6. munckee macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    I thought I read here a while ago that a FW drive was a much better choice than a USB drive. Can't remember the reasoning behind it now though. Can anyone shed some light on this?
  7. tivoboy macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2005

    supposedly, on MACS the FW throughput it better, at least closer to the rated maximum which I think is something like 400mbs.
    Whereas the USB2.0 throughput is at 400mbs as well.

    on pcs', I don't think the 1394 protocol is as well incorporated and the throughput can sometimes suffer, not matching the 400mbs that the macs have, but certainly the usb2.0 is at 400mbs.

    FW800, which is only available on a FEW machines, is much faster, but most external devices don't offer it. There are a FEW but they are $$$.

    personally, if I had an extra usb2.0 port, I wouldn't spend the extra $$ to buy a FW version.

    The other thing though that some will mention is the ability to BOOT from a FW drive with a backup and fully installed OS, but I think this is throughput and not FW dependant, so I THINK that a usb2.0 device will allow one to still BOOT from an external enclosure, I am sure someone will comment in about, oh 30 seconds
  8. ScubaDuc macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2003
    I have a LaCie USB/firewire and I can boot only with firewire. Generally, the problem I have encountered with USB ports is that they share the same controller, so if you have more then the HD pluggend in (keyboard, mouse, etc) the 400 Mb/sec gets shared amongst all USB ports. With firewire, since there are only generally one or two ports and people use them for one HD, the thouroghput is not shared, hence the full speed.

    No problems mounting ieee1394 WinXP and OSX but it was Apple tech support to tell me to use an Oxford chipset for my external DVD. Yes, because only Pro users with a PowerPC can use an 8cm CD...
  9. munckee macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    Thanks guys. I think what I read was something about allowing the drive to run all the time. Maybe to do with heat, or with how the drive reacted when the computer was put into sleep mode. I don't remember exactly.

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