Most Stable, Dependable External Hard Drive Options

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by neal1984, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. neal1984 macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2008
    Just had a WD 500gb hard drive crash which contained about 300gb of music. Going to do my best to recover all the files, but to do so I need to get another external HD set up first. After this experience, I want to find another 500gb hard drive that is the most dependable one possible so that this does not happen to me again.

    I have been researching and many people seem to think the best way to go is to buy an internal HD and an external enclosure and put them together myself. Is that really better than buying a pre-made external HD? If so, which components do you recommend, and if not, what external HDs are the most dependable?

    I would prefer to get something with both Firewire and USB so I can be flexible with how I use it.
  2. mgridgaway macrumors 6502


    Feb 25, 2006
    When you start to have that much data, it's crucial to have it backed up at least twice. I would recommend something like the Maximus Guardian over at OWC. It's a bit pricey, but you can buy it and the drives seperately to save on the some of the cost, and it's a true Hardware Raid, unlike some other options out there. Of course, you could always go for NAS or a fileserver, but they are probably a bit more expensive.

    If you're also questioning what drives to buy, I still think WD make the best. Buy a couple from Newegg, the 640GB's are a great bang for your buck right now.
  3. stomer macrumors 6502a

    Apr 2, 2007
    Leeds, UK
    Hard disks do fail from time to time. I'd also recommend sticking with Western Digital, they've been very reliable for me.
    I'd also recommend against getting 3rd party enclosures. A lot of them are just cheap garbage. I've had a few of them and not a single one of them would spin down the hard disk when it's not being used. Unlike my WD My Book, which does spin down the drive.
    Also, you don't really save any money if you get the enclosure separately.

    I don't think there was anything wrong with your setup except that you just needed to have backup system in place.
  4. Bengt77 macrumors 68000


    Jun 7, 2002

    Definitely the way to go. The Maximus Guardian is awesome. I bought its little brother, though, the OWC Mercury Elite dual drive enclosure. Its hardware RAID options are limited to span, 0 and JBOD, but using JBOD, you can actually set it up as RAID1 using Disk Utility. Not a hardware setup, but still a good option. Also, it's cheaper than the Maximus Guardian.

    But still, the OWC enclosures are awesome. And 640GB and 750GB drives definitely do offer the best bang for your buck today. No reason to settle for 500GB drives now. Also, use the same sized drives in your Mac as you put in your enclosure. That way, using a clone tool to backup the internal drive, you could just swap them, if/when your internal fails. I'm more a Seagate guy myself, but WD drives are really good too.
  5. neal1984 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2008
    Thanks for these tips, I'll research these ones you mentioned a little bit and then make a purchase.

    Then the next step is to install Recover My Files on a PC and hope that I can grab all the data from my busted WD!
  6. Jack Flash macrumors 65816

    May 8, 2007
    Just burn a couple dual-layer DVDs to accompany your external drive and you're fine.
  7. shen macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2003
    nice, i was just in the market

    that guardian drive at OWC looks great! now i just have to wait for my check and i am grabbing one.... thanks!


    actually, can you tell me if these are ok in a laying on their side position? i can't see why not, but maybe i am missing a heat vent or something....
  8. Heb1228 macrumors 68020


    Feb 3, 2004
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Any brand of hard drive can fail as easily as any other. All the major manufacturers make great drives and they all have a few fail. You just have to have two copies of everything (three, with one off-site of things you REALLY can't afford to lose).

    Keep in mind the hardware RAID solution ideally protects you against a drive failure, but not against software corruption or power surges.

    Anyone telling you that one brand or another is better is just telling you his/her personal preferences. Just buy big and cheap and make multiple copies.
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Believe me it WILL happen again. Plan for it.

    One good indicator of quality is the warranty period. Seagate drives have a 5 year warranty period most other 3 years.

    Are you sure the drive itself failed. If you are very lucky it is just the power supply or the interface inside the box and the drive itself is good. If so then all your data is there are all you need is a new enclosure for about $20.

    You need a few external drives, one for normal use, one for Time Machine and then at least one to rotate to an off-site location
  10. rpaloalto macrumors 6502a


    Sep 19, 2005
    Palo Alto CA.
    Yes buying and building your own external is always much cheaper and guarantees you a high quality hard drive. Most prebuilt external drives will use cheap outdated drives to increase their profit.
    the suggestion above are very good, but on the expensive side.

    I have built one of these for my self and my father just open the enclosure and plug the drive in.

    enclosure World Computing/MEFW924AL1K/

    HD Digital/WD6400AAKS/

    The wd 6400aaks is a very fast quiet and reliable drive. Lots of positive review from users here and others reliable sights.
    It uses only two 320GB platters. Less moving parts then most drives of comparable capacity

    total is about 185 +tax
  11. phuong macrumors 6502a

    Aug 16, 2006
    i keep wondering how do people end up having 300GB worth of music.
    if every single song is in lossless format and is 10MB then he has over 30,000 songs.
    if each song costs $1 then that's over $30,000 worth of music
    and then, if each song is roughly 5 minutes, that's 150,000 minutes of music.
    that means if one listens to them 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, it would take a year to finish them all, by when the library will probably have increased to 1TB
    oh im not sure why i'm writing these nonsense at 4:00 in the morning
  12. Bengt77 macrumors 68000


    Jun 7, 2002
    My thought exactly. I regularly keep 'house cleanings', where I throw away any and all music I haven't listened to since I ripped, copied or downloaded it. My iTunes library has been around 60GB for at least 2 years now, with this cleaning tactic. Takes some time, every once in a while, but at least the library stays a bit organized this way.
  13. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    300 GB isn't that hard to get to, especially for someone who listens to classical music where tracks are longer and you can actually tell the difference between a lossless rip and a lower-quality mp3 rip. One movement of a symphony can run into the hundreds of megabytes depending on how long it is.
  14. windowpain macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2008
    I think hard drives are a bit of a lottery, They all fail.. just a matter of when and how much of your data you lose.

    As the price of them has dropped significantly over the last year I'd probably get a 1TB to start with.. and then another to back it up.

    You might want to look at the Drobo, It's a little pricey, but it does the job.

    I'd personally go with a WD, and maybe a seagate to back that up.
  15. shen macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2003

    step one: buy an appletv
    step two: let the kids and wife get a few movies and TV shows
    step three: rip a few movies
    Step four: realize that in another year a terrabyte is going to look like it won't be enough
  16. neal1984 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2008
    Ok, so I'm kind of liking the idea of getting that Guardian Maximus enclosure. And I found this Seagate hard drive that looks like a good deal:

    I'm thinking maybe get a pair of these guys and pop em in the Guardian. Is that easy to set up? Is it just a matter of plugging them in and the rest takes care of itself as far as the mirroring and everything?

    And what happens if one of the drives fails... how do I reformat and clone the bad disk from the good one? Never had a RAID 1 setup before.

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