Recommend me an external HDD!

Discussion in 'iMac' started by maskingtape123, Nov 27, 2014.

  1. maskingtape123 macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2012
    Hey guys I need some advice and recommendation for an external HDD.

    Here's my requirement:

    (1) Compatible with iMac (May 2011)
    (2) Able to run on OSX 10.9.3
    (3) Since current iMac has got no USB 3.0 port, however prefer HDD to have USB 3.0 as standby.
    (4) Budget < US$120
    (5) Portability not a big issue since it serve as back-up + extra storage for my iMac, so will be parking at home most of the time.
    (6) Transfer speed not a major issue too, but I assume most HDD nowadays have decent speed?

    With different brands having supporters each, it is hard to decide especially when I have little knowledge in external HDD.

    After some read up and research, I have filter down to the following:

    (1) WD My Passport for Mac 2TB - $89

    (2) WD My Book Hard Drive for Mac 3 TB $119

    (3) Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2 TB Portable External Hard Drive for Mac - $106

    (4) Seagate Backup Plus 3TB Desktop External Hard Drive for Mac - $119

    (5) G-Technology G-Drive 2TB (but overshot my budget, however if performance beats WD and SG, will be willing to pay more - $149)

    The reason why I consider desktop HDD compared to portable ones because of more storage for cheaper price. However there is a need for external adapter, therefore not sure if will have any implications (e.g. if adapter spoilt, will I have a dead drive too?)
  2. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    With USB 2.0 it'll be slow (~30MB R/W) regardless of your HDD choice. FW800 will have an edge as it's full duplex and less CPU overhead than USB 2.0. If you're using it as your boot partition it's going to feel a little slow.

    The full size 3.5" drive enclosures are 7200RPM vs 5200 or 4800 2.5" drives, the 3.5" are faster all around but require more power hence the AC adapter.

    That said: FW800 isn't a future technology and USB 3.0 is.
  3. maskingtape123 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2012
    I was just reading some reviews on setting up an external HDD using SATA + enclosure. Have you tried before? Any recommendation which brand/model is recommended and how to set-up?
  4. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    No matter what enclosure you choose your USB 2.0 is the limiting factor, it's much slower than an HDD's SATA interface.

    There are oodles of USB to SATA enclosures, they're all about the same. It's easy to install an HDD into an external enclosure, then format it to HSF+ using disk utility.

    Unlike WD, Seagate or Lacie you'll never see firmware updates for them.
  5. Fatboy71 macrumors 65816


    Dec 21, 2010
    I have the 4TB version of the G-Technology G-Drive. I use this on my Late 2012 iMac, but this uses USB 3. I use this drive for Time Machine backups and I find it performs the backups quickly, even when the backups are several GB's in size. However, the transfer speeds will be slower on your machine with it having USB 2.

    Not sure if your machine has Thunderbolt ports, but that would give you faster transfer speeds, but Thunderbolt external HD's are pricey. I'd considered a Thunderbolt external hard drive when I was getting the G-Drive, but I couldn't justify the price for what would have given me less storage for a higher price.
  6. ZVH macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    Assuming most external drives nowadays have decent speed is an error. It's common sense, but it's an error. A lot of drive manufacturers are assuming the external drive's don't need to be fast because they're assuming the user is only going to use them for backups, which typically don't need high speed.

    Take a look at this post:

    The drive that guy is talking about, which I assume was an oddity, had basically been using firmware to park it's heads every so often which causes a delay. I believe it also had a variable drive speed which means it can go very slow or as fast as it possibly can. For drives like that, it's all about energy saving.

    Some of the WDs apparently won't work 100% unless you put their drivers and their driver software in. For example, on one of the WDs I've seen, if the drivers aren't loaded the power switch doesn't work and the drive has to be powered on and off by unplugging the power. Unfortunately, if the drivers aren't updated with the OS, they too can be problematic. I know some of the WDs were actually erasing drive information on the backups when Mavericks came out, but this problem is apparently now fixed.

    There's also a post on this site somewhere about a Toshiba Convio that apparently, deliberately, runs slow by design.

    All of this seems to be done to save energy and make the drive as low power as possible.

    There are a more than a few problems with USB drives, especially USB 3 drives on Macs. The drives eject when the computer goes to sleep and in some cases don't wake up when the power comes back on.

    If it was me I'd get a drive with a dual interface, like FireWire/USB combined but that will drive the price of the unit up. I would definitely do some web searches for information on specific candidates for use on all Mac related web sites and see if problems are being reported.

    Well, I hope that helps. All isn't lost, I'm just trying to point out some of the problems I've seen over the past few years.
  7. TheBSDGuy macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2012
    I'd second the notion of building your own. No third party drivers usually means less problems.
  8. Joelburman macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2014

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