New External HD: Questions and Concerns

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jamesixgun, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. jamesixgun macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2009
    Ok. So it's time for a new external drive. I'm beginning to get a bit paranoid about my current setup, largely due to the age of most of the components.

    Current setup:
    OWC Mercury Elite 500GB (5+ years old), used for iTunes library and occasional scratch disk (photoshop, mostly, no video editing or anything like that just yet).
    OWC Mercury Elite 250GB (~7 years old), used for TimeMachine.
    WD Passport 160GB (~3 years old), used for monthly cloning of the 250GB drive in my 13" UBMBP


    1) Quad, Dual, or USB interface? I would love to take advantage of the FW800 on the mbp, but do I really need it? (The 500 and 250 are currently daisy-chained to the mpb via a FW800->400 cable.) Given my needs, will USB be enough? I could save quite a bit of $ and get a bigger drive if USB will be sufficient.

    2) PreBuilt or DIY? I would like to build my own (OWC Mercury Elite enclosure with WD Black HD@1TB), but I could save a bit of cash buying a pre-built WD MyBook or LaCie or Seagate, though I would like to stay away from LaCie (who knows what they're putting in their externals) and Seagate (since I have no experience with their products). I also don't particularly trust Hitachi drives (in the prebuilt OWC externals), since I had a Hitachi drive die on me after less than one year, and have been unable to get a reply from Hitachi despite the three year warranty, though I've had no problems with the two OWC drives, even after 5+ and 7 years.

    3) Are 3.5" external drives any better for long term usage than 2.5" drives? I'm just curious here, since I really want to get up in the 1TB range (or maybe even 1.5TB), even though my current storage needs are in the 500GB range. But if I could use a couple of 2.5" drives instead of my current setup, I could save a bit of desk space and more easily move my setup.

    Have I forgotten anything?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
  2. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    thegoldenmackid will be along shortly to provide you with his exhaustive HD guide. Just be patient. ;)

    In the meantime I've had a good experience with prebuilt 3.5 external drives from Seagate and LaCie. Many will advocate building your own and I think that is also a good option. If you want larger capacity drives and cost is key than you will need to stick with 3.5 as 2.5 is much more expensive. I always use multiple interface because I like the speed that firewire offers, but if speed is not a top priority than USB will get the job done. However, as you already know with USB you will not be able to daisy chain like you can with firewire. OWC offers a variety of case options and you could always purchase a multiple drive case and grow with it as your needs change over time.
  3. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    I bought the LaCie Quattra D2 (whatever they sell in the Apple Store) and I have had no problems with it, despite all the problems i hear people have with LaCie. Every manufacturer is going to have bad and good reviews. Just the nature of the beast.

    I personally like having all the interfaces, just because you never know what you may encounter. My LaCie has FW800/400 USB SATA and something else as well.

    I am in search of an external enclosure for my stock internal drive i am going to replace...
  4. jamesixgun thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2009

    I took a look at thegoldenmackid's guide and some of the links and whatnot. That's a fairly nice resource, for sure.

    On the 2.5" front, I'm just curious if portable drives are robust enough to stand up to constant use. I mean, my desktop OWCs have been in fairly constant use for at least 5 years. Anyway.

    Thanks again.
  5. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    thegoldenmackid was taking a break from teh internets :D

    As to the OP's concerns about portable drives - it really depends how you treat them. As you can see, LaCie has a lot of opposition, what should be noted is that near none of it is to their portable drives. That's because a lot of LaCie's problems seem to be related to the desktop enclosure's build quality and parts, whereas there are no complaints about the portable ones. If the drives sit on your desk - there will be no more risk of problems. I use my portable Western Digital daily without any problem, I would have gotten an OWC except I needed the drive that day and Best Buy (unfortunately) doesn't carry OWC.
  6. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    Im sure these deals are close to dead if not dead already:

    500 gigs for $50

    1.5TB for $99

    Too bad your old OWC cases are IDE rather than SATA, or you could just drop some new drives in --- however --- if those are the Elite AL cases, they are pretty big inside, Im sure something like this would work just fine:

    buy a new bare 1TB drives for under $100, plug that sucker on and keep using your OWC cases...

    Maybe less room in one of the older plastic Elites, but I only own the AL versions, so Im not sure.

    Yea, you take a small speed hit, but nothing huge.

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