Help! Need new external hard drive for backup

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by rmgrenley, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. rmgrenley macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    I have an iMac and my LAcie external hard drive just failed. I need to shop for another drive. My iMac has Firewire 800 and usb 2.0. I was hoping to find a RELIABLE external hard drive that has Firewire 800 for use now, and usb 3.0 in case I replace this iMac in a year or two and still can use the same external hard drive. Not worth extra premium to find a Thunderbolt and Firewire 800 (if such exist) as I may never use Thunderbolt, but at least the usb 3.0 would give me a fast connection SHOULD I continue to use this drive later. As I read reviews, almost every make (Western Digintal, Seagate, Lacie, G-tech, etc.) has it's critics who have had one failure after another, and having had this Lacie failure and another Lacie portable drive failure, I am shying away from that. I was leaning towards Western Digital, but it seems in its line of Desktop drives for Macs they have Firewire 800 and usb 2.0 (My book Studio for Mac) and they have Thunderbolt but apparently nothing that has Firewire 800 (for my use now) and usb 3.0 (in case it is still working when I upgrade this iMac). Any suggestions for a RELIABLE desktop external hard drive already formatted for Mac, compatible with Time Machine, with Firewire 800 and usb 3.0 (as opposed to 2.0)??
    Thank you!
  2. RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    That's exactly it--if you look around enough, almost everyone has a bad story with a drive from one manufacturer or another. Personally, I don't worry too much about it, but I'd stay away from no-name drives and to brands you know (by chance, all of my drives happen to be from Western Digital, but I'd gladly buy Seagate or any other brand name).

    That being said, have you heard of Seagate's GoFlex Desk drives? They have different "adapters" you can use to change the interface--I know there is, at least, Firewire 800, USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt adapters available. This may be helpful for you if they aren't too expensive.

    If they are, personally I'd just go with a USB 3.0 drive, which will be relatively future-proof and still work, albeit at USB 2.0 speeds, on your current Mac. If you can't tolerate that, I suggest the above, or buying your own external enclosure and your own drive and putting them together, then perhaps replacing the enclosure only if or when you decide to upgrade.

    Finally, there may be external drives manufactured that have both Firewire 800 and USB 3.0 built in, but I can't recommend any of the top of my head. Perhaps others can chime in with ideas here.
  3. rmgrenley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    It's interesting to me that Western Digital has a usb 3.0 2TB portable drive (my passport for mac)(recently bought one for my daughter), but hasn't yet upgraded their desktop units from usb 2.0 to 3.0. Maybe they feel that if you have Firewire 800 you don't need usb 3.0, but if you buy a new Mac you will find yourself depending on slow 2.0 (unless you buy a thumderbolt to firewire adaptor) or ditching your drive.
  4. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    Any idea what actually failed? The hard drive or the enclosure. Maybe you can buy a bare drive and swap it out, using the same enclosure.
  5. rmgrenley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    Not sure, but I am fine buying a new drive at this point...have had this a number of years. I noticed that OWC (Newertechnologies?) has a Ministack for Mac that has the USB 3.0 and FireWire, but a couple commented on a noisy fan and I am not sure about their reliability. Looked into the Seagate go flex which has FireWire and USB 2.0 now and you can buy a Thunderbolt expansion sleeve for it, though $180 for the drive now and $180 for the Thunderbolt expansion sleeve seems a bit much. Not out of my price range, necessarily, but seems high nonetheless. A reliable manufacturer's 2or 3 TB drive that has FireWire 800 and USB 3.0 would be perfect, but maybe they just don't make them...figuring that FireWire is "legacy" and if you have it, who needs USB 3.0, and if you have a newer computer you are either going to go with USB 3.0 or spring for Thunderbolt. Maybe my situation of having a machine for which FW 800 is the fastest best connection we have now, but we might like to use the drive after we upgrade to a new machine...maybe there are not enough consumers in my situation yet.
  6. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    You don't necessarily need a "for Mac" external from Western Digital.
    They are labeled that because they are pre-formatted to HFS.

    Most external drives are formatted FAT32 so that you can connect them to OS X or Windows and then just format it to HFS or NTFS depending on your need. It is a very painless less than 1 minute process. That being said depending on where you buy the drive from, you may pay an extra $10-$25 simply because the drive is labeled "for mac".

    All of my external drives are WD (2) 4YR old USB2 models, (1) 3yr old Firewire800, (2)1yr old Thunderbolt, (4) 2yr old USB3 models and (1) 3yr old Ethernet NAS which is the only one that I regret purchasing, it is probably the slowest drive I've owned in the last 10yrs it still works but painfully slow more so than USB2.
    None of them have failed yet.

    I will not be purchasing a new iMac but I am hoping a new Thunderbolt display is released soon with USB3 ports. I had high hopes for Belkin's expensive Thunderbolt Dock but they pulled it at the last minute when it was scheduled to be released.
  7. rmgrenley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    I should also note that the LaCie d2 Quadra USB 3.0 meets my criteria and has both Firewire 800 and USB 3.0, except that I have heard (and personally experienced) hard drive failures with Lacie and would be very hesitant to try them again.
  8. d.steve macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2012
    It seems that stuff you see on the shelves from Seagate/WD/etc generally has pretty awful airflow. I've had a couple like these die prematurely, but they were fairly cheap external drives.

    So far the only alternative for FW800+USB3 with good airflow that I've found is to roll your own. Get an enclosure that you like and add your own drive, whichever you want. It's the best-of-breed approach, but it costs a whole lot more.

    I haven't done a lot of research on enclosures, yet, but I'm in a similar thought pattern as you. I noticed that OWC has a Mecury Elite Pro that might have decent airflow, but the enclosure (fw800+usb3+esata) is $98 by itself. Add in, say, a 3TB green/etc drive for around $130 and it's clearly more expensive than buying off the shelf.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "I have an iMac and my LAcie external hard drive just failed"

    Stop right there.

    What PART of your external hard drive failed?
    - Was it the hard drive mechanism itself?
    - Was it the enclosure that the hard drive is in?
    - Was it just the power supply?

    LaCie drives have power supplies which have a reputation for failing. When they do, you might think the drive has "failed". But substitute the bad power supply with a good one, and the drive comes back to life.

    Same thing with the enclosure. If the enclosure (controller card, etc.) goes bad on you, the drive won't mount, and you think "failure", when the hard drive inside is still good and your data is still intact.

    Can you spend, say, $20-30?
    If so, get one of these gadgets:,k:usb3+sata+dock
    (many items shown, they all work the same, just pick one you like that's cheap)

    Then - open the LaCie enclosure, take the hard drive out, put it into the dock, connect the dock to the Mac, and turn it on. What happens next?

    If you ascertain that the hard drive mechanism itself has failed, I would recommend that you consider buying a usb3/SATA dock anyway, and then pick up a "bare" hard drive of your choice to go into it. These can be VERY handy devices to have around, especially if you need to swap out a drive now and then. You can boot from them, too.
  10. rmgrenley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    You are correct, I do not really understand how these things work, and in this case the unit is getting power (the light continuously blinks) but the computer does not recognize that the drive is connected. I am not sure whether this means the hard drive is the problem or the enclosure (?card controller) whatever. I am supposing that your suggestion of taking my Lacie apart makes sense and is easy as pie even for someone like me who might have trouble finding a screw to undo!,!!! But nevertheless having bare hard drives sitting in docks and swapping them out from time to time is more than I care to think about. I just want a reliable external hard drive with the right connectors that will last more than a year. If the only way to get this, realistically, is to put my own drive in my own enclosure...well, I may have to but I hope not. I am good at surgery and not at computers, some of you may be good at computers and not at surgery. I accept my limitations! OWC Ministack has the right connectors, I just don't know if their product is reliable and doesn't sound like a hair dryer.
  11. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    Most of the desktop My Book drives are USB 3.0 now.
  12. teohyc macrumors regular


    May 24, 2007
    I'm using Western Digital My Passport series, so far so good.

    My Passport Studio Firewire 800 & Usb 2
    My Passport For Mac USB 3
    My Passport USB 3
  13. rmgrenley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    Yes, but although they have USB 3.0, they do not appear to have FireWire, so with my current iMac I would be restricted to USB 2.0 speeds. If I went with the FireWire 800/USB 2.0 units available, then if I upgraded iMacs in a year or two I would be stuck with USB 2.0 or, I guess, buy a thunderbolt-to-FireWire adaptor, and since no one has yet suggested a ready-made unit with FireWire 800 AND USB 3.0 they may not be available and I may be forced to do just that.
    I really do appreciate all of your inputs! Thank you for taking the time.
  14. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I have 2 of the Seagate Goflex drives with FireWire 800 ports and they work well. Drives came with USB 2 and I added the FireWire adapters. Going that route gives you a lot of flexibility.
  15. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009

    I have 2 OWC external hard drive units, both have held up well.
  16. LaCieTech macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2012

    I think that all the various input is good and it seems like there is a lot to consider. In my opinion it boils down to just a couple factors. Your personal feelings on various brands and how much you'll like seeing the product on your desk. You can spend all day looking up good and bad reviews of the various companies and find probably more negative than positive for any company at all. People love to complain more than they love to praise. How many threads have you ever seen that started out "I just had to get on and rave about my Brand X thingy!!"?

    Our failure rate is about the same as any other premium brand. There will be product that fail quick and some that don't. We power on and connect every drive during production to ensure it connects, but that won't detect some types of errors that take weeks or months to develop. I can say that for every story I've heard of someone's drive failing within the warranty we have more people who call up with 5 to 7 year old drives that are just now starting to acting funny.

    That's because in addition to a certain luck factor, the way the drives are treated has a heavy impact on their lifespan. External drives can be knocked over, have stuff spilled on them, exposed to the elements, wild pet and children attacks or any number of other things that damage or kill an external. If you keep it safe and well treated, and barring undetected manufacturing defects, you can expect the drive to last long enough for you to /want/ to replace it rather than need to.

    The most important thing in all of this though, is how complete your backup is. A majority of hard disk failures that are properly backed up are no more inconvenient than a call to the company to arrange a replacement. If you have 2 disks with identical data (not a RAID) then one failing is no big deal.

    Whichever brand you choose to purchase it would be a primary interest to make sure you have a second, independent copy of the data to be prepared.

    ~mn, LaCie
  17. rmgrenley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    LaCie Tech,
    Your points are well taken.
    Question: If I bought 2 separate hard drives, such as the Lacie d2 quadra's, how do you set up to back up to each one separately in my current set up (iMac with Firewire 800 and usb 2.0 but no usb 3.0 or thunderbolt)?
    ? daisy chain in some way?
    Does it require some more complicated set up in Time Machine?
  18. Mr. Retrofire, Nov 16, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2012

    Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    I use WD Green drives within this enclosure:

    The Super S3 uses a standard 12 V power supply with a standard connector, and a more efficient power supply, compared to the Super S (previous generation). The Super S3 supports USB 3.0 and HDDs/SSDs larger than 2.2 TB (3 TB and 4 TB are no problem).

    Do not use 7200 RPM drives in this enclosure. 7200 RPM drives need active cooling and are not much faster than 5400 RPM drives.

    About InXtron/MacPower:



    In many cases the problem is a defective JENTEC power supply with a non standard connector. I can recommend power supplies by Asian Power Devices Inc. Very efficient (less heat) and less weight. InXtron uses them.
  19. lexvo macrumors 65816

    Nov 11, 2009
    The Netherlands
    Last month I was struggeling with the same problem as the OP: I wanted a backup drive, but found that
    - Thunderbolt is still too expensive
    - FireWire has speed, but future iMacs won't have FireWire anymore
    - drives with both FireWire and USB 3.0 are rare and (still) more expensive (the LaCie d2 Quadra USB 3.0 is an interesting model, but it costs almost twice as much as the WD I bought)

    In the end I ended up buying a WD 2TB drive with USB 3.0 (only slightly more expensive than a USB 2.0 model). My iMac has USB 2.0 which is fast enough for TimeMachine backup. In a few years when I upgrade to a new iMac I can enjoy USB 3.0 speed.
  20. LaCieTech macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2012

    Daisy Chain just allows you to connect multiple drives via FireWire but does not bind them into any kind of required setup.

    There are several ways to accomplish that kind of backup. You can try a software RAID 1 to automatically mirror the data.

    You can have Time Machine backup your computer to one drive and then also backup that drive to the second drive or just have it backup your computer to both drives.

    You can manually drag and drop the important data you want... again its down to preferences. If you want to talk to our techs to help figure out the best method for your particular setup, we can be reached at 503.844.4500 (USA) or

    You don't need to have a current product or be in warranty to talk to our techs, we will answer the phone regardless.

    ~mn, LaCie
  21. peixesloucos macrumors member


    Dec 1, 2012
    Returning to this topic, what have you decided?
    Or are you still searching?

    G-Technology has 1 TB G-DRIVE Mobile USB 3.0/FireWire Hard Drive
    It is not in size and a bit pricy.

  22. rmgrenley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    The problem is that, no sooner do I make a tentative decision, perhaps for the LAcie quadra 2 or the G-Drive, both of which have USB 3.0 and Firewire 800, than i read reviews that tell about the multiple problems with each of these, from power sources to shutting down and not awakening for backups to needing firmware updates to perform properly to unresponsive support when problems arise to having to shut the drive down at least once daily and restarting to having to pay shipping when the drive fails after only 2 weeks, etc. etc. etc. with warnings to NEVER BUY THIS DRIVE!!!! i am still confused. I do not want to assemble my own drive and enclosure, I do not want to deal with ongoing issues, I just want a reliable drive!! Help!
  23. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    I have mostly had better luck with Seagate drives than Western Digital myself. A couple of WD drives have died, plus one of the LaCie drives I had in my Mac Mini days. Knock on wood, but I'm so far batting 1.000 with my two Seagate drives.

    I'm guessing either of those two brands would be OK and I might've just had bad luck. My best recommendation would be to look at sale prices for a couple of weeks at different places plus whatever Amazon can do. I haven't had to buy a new one recently, nor have I needed any connection other than USB 2. So it's best to just look around and see what you can find until you literally must have it.
  24. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "i am still confused. I do not want to assemble my own drive and enclosure, I do not want to deal with ongoing issues, I just want a reliable drive!! Help!"

    I made a good (and CHEAP) recommendation to you in post #9, if you're not willing to learn a bit about "drive handling", and would rather spend your time on this thread wringing your hands instead, then I'm afraid not many other posters are going to be able to help, either....
  25. rmgrenley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    No, I do not want to learn about drive handling, opening my drive enclosure, buying docks, etc. I would rather buy a reliable unit. I would rather buy a TV as opposed to building one myself. I appreciate your suggestion, but the fact that you proposed what appears to a more experienced user to be a simple solution, but one that seems to a novice to be more involved and complex than I desire means that it is not a good solution FOR ME. My point is that when I find a unit with the proper connectors I read review after review about failing devices. If my frustration bugs you, stop reading this thread.

Share This Page