Portable External Drive / Storage Recommendations

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by macguy78, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. macguy78 macrumors member

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    #1
    I was hoping to get some advice on external hard drive recommendations. I've read the mac rumors hard drive guide which is really helpful, but was hoping for some direct input. So here is the scoop...

    Currently, I have two WD passport portable external hard drives - one for storing music (100GB) and the other for time machine (250GB) which i use to backup my old but still working Power Mac G4 and music drive. I just purchased a new 15" MBP (320 GB) and am looking to expand my storage capability (either for adding more music capacity or time machining my MBP or both). I just purchased a new Seagate Free Agent Go today (320 GB for $90), but I'm rethinking that purchase.

    I really like the portability, proven track record, and price point of the WD passports and Seagate FreeAgent Go external drives. However, my primary concern is that they don't have an ac adapter which can cause problems when macs goes to sleep. Does anyone consider this an important feature to have? If so, I would appreciate hearing rationale/philosophy around this and any alternative recommendations.

    Plus, it would be nice but not required if there was a firewire option.
    I find that USB 2.0 is relatively slow, especially when doing lots of reads/writes in itunes.

    Any and all advice is really appreciated.
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #2
    I hate HDs with external PSU, power through USB FTW! I've never had problems with my externals and haven't heard others have had, it depends on drive and its drivers.

    FW is nice but you pay pretty nice premium for it and if I recall correctly, it can't transmit power so you need external PSU
     
  3. macguy78 thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Hellhammer - Thanks for your input. Do you configure your mac for sleep mode? I know if I let my mac go to sleep, the hard drive will lose power and unexpectedly shut off - probably not good for data integrity. Here is what the mac rumors hard drive buying guide says about this:

    "Portable enclosures: These are external enclosures for 2.5" hard drives, either IDE or SATA, with USB or Firewire connections. Most USB external 2.5" enclosures do not have AC power supplies, but rely on the 5V/500 mA power available on the USB port. Unfortunately, some of these enclosures draw more than 500 mA, and Apple strictly limits the power available from the USB ports, which sometimes causes USB powered drives to not work properly on Macs. When you have a choice, pick a drive or enclosure with its own AC power. "

    I'm with you on not wanting a PSU, but this read suggests that it is a necessary evil.
     
  4. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #4
    Hmmm, did not know that. Still haven't heard people having any problems really, and nor have I had.

    Have your WDs work fine?
     
  5. macguy78 thread starter macrumors member

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    #5
    They have worked great for me outside of sleep mode issue. By disabling sleep mode (which I don't like doing), this keeps the power flowing to the WD. Other than that, they have been very reliable.
     
  6. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #6
    It doesn't hurt if they shut down. The HD inside your Mac powers off when you sleep your Mac so it's the same for externals. I've never had issues with my 4 externals and they all power off like babies when I sleep my iMac
     
  7. macguy78 thread starter macrumors member

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    #7
    Interesting. I used to get an error message when mine went to sleep - something like "your hard drive was unexpectedly disconnected. Always eject your hard drive before disconnecting". That's not the exact error message, but that's the idea.
     
  8. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #8
    Ahh, it powers off the USB before sleeping! Does the WD have a power switch? Does it show up in desktop normally when you wake up your Mac?
     
  9. macguy78 thread starter macrumors member

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    #9
    The WD passports I own do not have a power switch. When I wake up my mac, it shows up normally in the desktop but get that error message about "Eject before disconnecting".
     
  10. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #10
    It's not that big deal IMO. It just warns you but unless you were using it, it's harmless. I get that sometimes and I usually just unplug them without ejecting, no issues so far
     
  11. macguy78 thread starter macrumors member

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    #11
    Does anyone else find have an external drive with external power supply? The "Remember to eject before disconnecting" message seems like a message I'd want to avoid for the reasons previously stated.
     
  12. iPostpone macrumors member

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    Nov 13, 2007
    #12
    I'm a little late to the party, but the OWC Mercury On-The-Go portable hard drives are bus-powered, but can also use an optional power supply. They are available with multiple interfaces, including FW800/400+USB2, FW400+USB2, USB2, and USB3.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/on-the-go

    My daughter has the triple interface model in 640GB size and uses it over FW800 with no power supply. I do think she gets the error message you mention quite frequently. After a few months of use, her TimeMachine backup failed, and it turned out that partition on the hard drive was corrupted and had be be reformatted. I don't know if that was caused by the error message cited above, but it hasn't happened since.

    I was considering getting her two of these hard drives to be daisy-chained over FW800, and that's when OWC recommended the use of the external power supply. Now I'm thinking of getting that power supply anyway to see if it prevents a recurrence of the corrupted partition. They only cost $8, so it's worth a try.
     

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