Need New RELIABLE External HD

Caitlyn

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 30, 2005
842
0
Hi guys!
I am in need of an external hard drive. Reliability is the most important thing here. I was hoping to stay under $200.

So, here's the story. I had a 300GB Fantom Drive which I bought from NewEgg. Thing worked great for the 3 weeks I've owned it. Then, just this past Friday, I backed up my entire Home folder (1300 photos, 300 songs, 50 serial numbers, 3 term papers, etc.) and the HD just fried. It's dead. The hard drive won't turn on and I can't here it spin anymore. So, after I got over my devestation and my newfound determination to backup once a month onto CDs or DVDs only (no more HDs for back up), I have decided that once I return the thing and get my money back, I will need another external hard drive. Not for back up but for extended space. I really do need more than 40GB on my iBook.

So, do any of you know of some external HDs that are RELIABLE and can be purchased for under $200? Thanks a bunch! :) Also, I was hoping to get at least 160GB.
 

CanadaRAM

macrumors G5
Every hard drive will die -- it's on a Bell curve whether you get 3 weeks or 7 years is the luck of the draw - most will last about 5 years, but highly dependant on use and environment. You got unlucky and drew the short end of the curve. But p'rhaps a tad luckier than if you had even more data on it and it failed at the 13 month point out of warranty?

That is to say, there is not a lot to choose between drives in terms of reliability - the main manufacturers Seagate, Maxtor, Western Digital, Hitachi and Samsung - have roughly equal manufacturing quality (although you will get people with definite opinions one way or another based on personal experience) -- the quality of the external case and its power supply is one variable.

I would go for a Seagate IDE drive (parallel ATA) with a 5 year warranty, and put it in a MacAlly aluminum case (one year warranty) myself.
 

yellow

Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
16,033
1
Portland, OR
CanadaRAM said:
I would go for a Seagate IDE drive (parallel ATA) with a 5 year warranty, and put it in a MacAlly aluminum case (one year warranty) myself.
I second this.. though I'm sure people have contrary feelings, Seagates have always been exceedingly reliable.
 

Caitlyn

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 30, 2005
842
0
CanadaRAM said:
I would go for a Seagate IDE drive (parallel ATA) with a 5 year warranty, and put it in a MacAlly aluminum case (one year warranty) myself.
You made some good points, CanadaRAM. Thanks. Do you happen to have a link to where I might be able to find these things?

Also, I've heard many mixed things about Lacies. Anyone got an opinion there? :p
 

SLCentral

macrumors regular
Jan 18, 2004
170
0
Princeton, NJ/Ithaca, NY
If you want real reliability, you can't go with a single drive solution. You need RAID 1. Yes, it's more expensive (it's actually two drives), but this way your data is in two hard drives, so if one fails, you still have it all on the other. The chance of one drive failing is high, but two at the same time is slim to none.
 

Caitlyn

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 30, 2005
842
0
good point, daniel. do you have any links to where i could just browse around some RAID options?
 

9Charms

macrumors regular
May 19, 2006
206
0
Vancouver, BC
Failures in external hard drives isn't caused by the drive itself in most cases, it's usually the external enclosure. And even there, it's almost always the power supply. That's what happened with the LaCie Big Disk series. People were up in arms about the unsual high failure rates of these drives. Turns out the device and the hard drive were fine, but the power supplies went bad. Replace the power supply and it all works again. Your Fantom drive might not actually be dead itself. Pull apart the case and stick the actual drive into a PowerMac and have a look.

For your price range, just grab a Seagate w 5 yr warranty and any old external enclosure that has a fan. Should run you $120.

If you want to spend stupid amounts more money because reliability is a huge issue, pickup an old G4 tower, get a SATA RAID card, and plug in 4 hard drives in a RAID 5 configuration. If one drive fails, you just replace it and it rebuilds the failed drive with info from the other 3.

You could also get a RAID card with RAID 1 support for substantially less money, so that's another option.
 

CanadaRAM

macrumors G5
9Charms said:
Failures in external hard drives isn't caused by the drive itself in most cases, it's usually the external enclosure. And even there, it's almost always the power supply. That's what happened with the LaCie Big Disk series. People were up in arms about the unsual high failure rates of these drives. Turns out the device and the hard drive were fine, but the power supplies went bad. Replace the power supply and it all works again. Your Fantom drive might not actually be dead itself. Pull apart the case and stick the actual drive into a PowerMac and have a look.
Problem: Open the case, void the warranty (remember it's practically new)

Remember that most if not all of the packaged external drives (RAID or not) are limited to a 1 year warranty and you CAN'T remove or replace the mechanisms yourself, even if only to scavenge data from a Maxtor that was being RMA'ed anyway (ask me how I know...)

A packaged external RAID 1 is still subject to single points of failure in the powersupply, firewire bridge board, and cooling system.

MacAlly (check their Where to Buy link for sources) I like this drive because it is well built, and the company is stable, and a Mac-knowledgeable company. There are faaaar too many companies that import generic Chinese-built cases for 3 - 6 months and then disappear forever.

The Seagate drives are available at almost any PC component supplier. There is no difference between a PC drive and a Mac drive. Just make sure you are getting
1) an IDE drive (Parallel ATA -- NOT SATA)
2) the original Seagate 5 year warranty in writing. You do not want a "pull", "OEM" or "recertified" drive with less than 5 years warranty.
 

9Charms

macrumors regular
May 19, 2006
206
0
Vancouver, BC
CanadaRAM said:
Problem: Open the case, void the warranty (remember it's practically new)
Depends on how much that data is worth to you. If you send it back, you lose all the data. If it's just a backup, ya don't bother. If it has the ONLY copy of something important... you decide.


CanadaRAM said:
A packaged external RAID 1 is still subject to single points of failure in the powersupply, firewire bridge board, and cooling system.
I agree 100%. Buy your case and HD separately, so you don't trip over warranty issues.
 

FragTek

macrumors 6502
May 29, 2006
377
0
Fredericksburg, VA
My favorite external hard drive so far is my 100gb FireLite portable drive. It fits comfortably in the palm of my hand and does not require a secondary power source which makes for maximum portability.

Other than that I've been using a PPA ioconnect external enclosure with a 500gb WD drive in it for quite some time now and it runs flawlessly and very cooly w/o any fans. Highly recommended setup which can be put together fairly inexpensive (you could opt for a bit smaller hd, say a 300gb and be well under your $200 mark).
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
Buy a case and a drive individually, at least this way you can make sure you are getting a decent case and a quality drive.

The near line drives (enterprise class) and a long life case won't look as good, will likely sound like a hoover with a penny in the mechanism.

But sometimes the long life drive mechanisms and fans aren't always silent.

The decent HDs (aka designed for reliability) aren't usually the desktop drives, they are off in another section.
 

Macky-Mac

macrumors 68030
May 18, 2004
2,599
1,170
iGary said:
I'd go to www.macsales.com and get one of their externals, which use Seagate Drives...
I've had good experience with their drives too

I use both CDs and a hard drive for my backups....the CDs are fine for photos, music and completed work projects (ummm, just make two compies in case one gets damaged) and the hard drive for ongoing work and things that change on a day to day basis as it creates too many CDs to try to keep all of that on CDs
 

sw1tcher

macrumors 68000
Jan 6, 2004
1,620
1,964
Caitlyn said:
You made some good points, CanadaRAM. Thanks. Do you happen to have a link to where I might be able to find these things?

Also, I've heard many mixed things about Lacies. Anyone got an opinion there? :p
As for the enclosure, best price I've seen is $42.99 + $4.99 shipping for the USB/Firewire model, or $32.99 + $4.99 shipping for the USB 2.0 only model.

A 500GB Seagate HDD can be had at Outpost.com for $189.99 if you're looking for something with a lot of capacity, or for $90.95 shipped you can get a Seagate 250GB drive at Buy.com, or for $99.99 shipped a 300GB Seagate at Newegg.com, or....
 

Macer

macrumors regular
May 2, 2006
116
0
Get an external firewire drive enclosure with an oxford chipset, then you can upgrade the hard drive if needed.
 

Macer

macrumors regular
May 2, 2006
116
0
Get an external firewire drive enclosure since it is twice as quick as usb 2 with an oxford chipset, then you can upgrade the hard drive if needed.
 

iHeartTheApple

macrumors 6502
Feb 13, 2006
338
0
Boston, MA
Macer said:
Get an external firewire drive enclosure since it is twice as quick as usb 2 with an oxford chipset, then you can upgrade the hard drive if needed.
But this is only if you have FW800 (800Mbps). FW400 (400Mbps) is actually a tad slower than USB2.0 (460Mbps?). Someone correct me if I'm wrong...I'm pretty sure that's the case. So this would only work for you if you have a 17" PB or MBP (and maybe a PowerMac? not sure...). :)
 

gloss

macrumors 601
May 9, 2006
4,811
0
around/about
iHeartTheApple said:
But this is only if you have FW800 (800Mbps). FW400 (400Mbps) is actually a tad slower than USB2.0 (460Mbps?). Someone correct me if I'm wrong...I'm pretty sure that's the case. So this would only work for you if you have a 17" PB or MBP (and maybe a PowerMac? not sure...). :)
Well, the connection speed only matters if it's less than the max thoroughput speed of the hard drive itself. Does anyone know what the raw speed on these things is?
 

yellow

Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
16,033
1
Portland, OR
iHeartTheApple said:
But this is only if you have FW800 (800Mbps). FW400 (400Mbps) is actually a tad slower than USB2.0 (460Mbps?). Someone correct me if I'm wrong...I'm pretty sure that's the case.
Actually it's not the case. FW400 is overall faster than USB 2.0.

There's plenty of threads and links around backing this up.

Just to save you time, here's one:

http://www.barefeats.com/fire26.html

gloss said:
Well, the connection speed only matters if it's less than the max thoroughput speed of the hard drive itself. Does anyone know what the raw speed on these things is?
I didn't think the drives were typically the bottlenecks in these cases.
 

Macer

macrumors regular
May 2, 2006
116
0
I thought i was going to have to find one of those articles myself, thanks.