USB 2.0 drive good enough for backup

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by satchmo, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. satchmo macrumors 68000

    Aug 6, 2008
    Need an external backup drive of somewhere between 2-4TB.

    I have older hardware with FW 400/800 and USB 2.0 ports. But I'd love to future proof myself for when I upgrade and buy an external with FW800/USB 3.0.

    Of course this costs $200 vs $130 for 2tb.

    Is USB 2.0 good enough for simple backup or will FW800 make a big difference in real world usage?
  2. xraydoc macrumors 604


    Oct 9, 2005
    FW800 is noticibly faster than USB 2.0. Obviously USB 3.0 is faster than those, so if you want to future proof, then something with USB 3.0 is the best bet.

    That said, if it's just for backups (Time Machine or otherwise), it's speed may not make that much of a difference.

    Also, I suspect you can find a USB 3.0/FW800 unit that isn't $70 more than it's USB 2.0 counterpart.
  3. RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    As xraydoc said, obviously USB 2.0 is the slowest of the three standards under consideration here. However, people have been using USB 2.0 external hard drivers for years, myself included. You will not suffer using it for backup, by which I assume the typical use is frequent writes, rare reads, and no time-critical operations. For these reasons, I think you'll be fine with USB 2.0.

    Personally, I'm making sure any new enclosures I buy are USB 3.0, but only because I don't know if I'll always use them as backup drives. (I haven't done a price comparison, but you probably can and then decide for yourself if the difference is worth it.) I avoid FireWire because some of my machines don't have it, and I avoid Thunderbolt for the same reasons plus the even greater expense, but again, that's just me.
  4. Larsonator macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2013
    Get yourself and External Enclosure for $77

    and an Internal Drive for $150

    Connect it via FireWire800 for now then USB 3.0 in the future when you get a new Mac.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Here's a low-cost and quick-n-easy solution.

    Warning: it may not be the most elegant item on your desktop, but it will perform as well as any of them.

    Get yourself a USB3/SATA docking station. They cost less than $25. To see what these are, go to amazon and enter "usb3 sata dock" into the search box. You'll get many choices.

    Then, get yourself a couple of "bare" 2tb drives. I recommend TWO 2tb instead of 1 4tb. Remember the old saying, "don't keep all your eggs in one basket" ??

    With the dock, you can swap drives around as necessary. One dock, many drives. Or use two docks for "duping". There are also 2-drive and 4-drive docking bays.

    An advantage of having a dock/drive, is that you have some insulation against hardware failure. If a drive shows evidence of problems, just pop it out and drop in a good one. If the -dock- is having problems, get another dock and keep using the same drives. As easy as it gets.

    Again, this isn't going to look as snazzy sitting on your desk as some silvery smooth external drive enclosure. But it will make up for form, in function !
  6. satchmo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aug 6, 2008
    Thanks but this works out to over $200. I can get a ready to go 2tb g-tech drive for $200.

    Thank for all the advice. I think getting separate 2tb drives vs one 4tb is smart.

    I'll likely just suck it up and spend more for a drive with FW and USB 3. I also realize that the future may be TB and not USB, but it's too pricey for me right now.

  7. Larsonator macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2013
    I narrowed my list down to the G-Drive Mini, the setup I described earlier, and a Seagate Barracuda with the same enclosure.

    Since my last setup (WD and Macally) has been going strong for almost 3 years, I went with their upgraded products because I trust them. The WD Black's 5-year warranty is better than the ones from G-Technology and Seagate as well.

    The G-Drive you mentioned got harsh reviews but I'm sure it's just as good as it's relatives. G-Tech uses HGST 7K2000 drives, owned by WD, and have been proven to match right up against the "popular" brands. Can't go wrong especially since you'll be sticking to your budget!
  8. dictoresno macrumors 601


    Apr 30, 2012
    when i replaced my 2007 iMacs internal 250GB seagate for a 2 TB seagate, i purchased a cheap SATA enclosure to install the 250 in. i know have this plugged in 24/7 via USB 2.0 as my time machine backup drive and it just sits on my desk. i never timed the initial backup, which is about 80 GB, but it was like 10-15 mins. now each new backup is like 1 minute or so when it syncs. i would day USB 2.0 is fine.

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