Which external hard drive can I trust?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Caitlyn, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. Caitlyn macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
    #1
    Hi MacRumors. :)
    I'm in the market for a large external hard drive for backing up and storing some extra photos, etc.

    My question to you is what brand and model should I get? I have about $250 to spend. What is the best GB per dollar ratio?

    I am insanely strict on reliability. I once had an external hard drive that caused my loss of 2000 photos. Some of which were my grandfather's last Christmas before he died and they were never to be seen again. So, I do not want to deal with this type of failure again from an external hard drive.

    Thanks to anyone who suggests something. :)
    -Caitlyn
     
  2. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena/Hollywood
    #2
    hard drives are not a good archival medium... all hard drives fail. it is a matter of when, not if. For archiving photos, keeping a copy on a hard drive is fine, but for crucial stuff, you really need to keep a 2nd copy on a different medium like DVDs.

    that said, I always go with Seagate drives.
     
  3. speakerwizard macrumors 68000

    speakerwizard

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #3
    western digital mybook (pro) is great and looks nice next to a mac
     
  4. Caitlyn thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
    #4
    I'm really debating between Maxtor and Lacie at this time. Any opinions? It will be used for a lot of storage as well, so no worries, bigbossbmb.
     
  5. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #5
    Any hard drive of any brand can fail, so listen to BBBmb

    I would go for a nice external Firewire or Firewire/USB case (don't get USB only, even if the price is tempting) from MacAlly and put in your choice of drive. An advantage of going this route (besides being able to choose the components you want) is that you will get the full warranty on the drive mechanism, rather than a 1 year which is typical of a finished-goods external drive.

    Seagates have a 5 year warranty, as to the top of the line Western Digital and Maxtor drives (the consumer lines on the latter 2 are 3 year and occasionally 1 year. Check before you buy.) WD have their "RAID Edition" drives which are a bit more reliable than their regular line, as are the Maxtor MaxLine drives over their DiamondMax drives. Sometimes the same drive is available with a choice between a 2, 8 or 16 Mb cache, certainly take the 8 or 16 Mb if it is available, for $5 more or so.

    You will want an IDE drive to go in the case.
     
  6. Locatel macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2006
    #6
    Forget about Lacie, you never know wich HD brand is inside, they vary and are only covered by a 1 year warranty.
    Get a Mercury Elite Aluminum Pro from OWC, excellent case and chipset. They use the latest Seagate drives. The whole unit has a 2 year warranty + 3 years for the drive (total of 5 years for the drive alone). Getting a good case and a drive separately is not going to save you that much, I don't think it's worth it. You can get a 500GB unit for $220, that's $0.44 per GB!!! Check it out:

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/1394/USB/EliteAL/400+USB2/
     
  7. jotadeo macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2007
    Location:
    Wisconsin, EE.UU.
    #7
    Great thread! I'm especially interested since I'll soon be in the market to buy an external HD and so I'm keeping my eye out for stuff like this. I'd like to suggest that someone put together a MR guide for buying ext. HDs. The closest thing I've found here is a Drives and Filesystems guide, but it doesn't have the info pertinent to this discussion. Just a thought.

    I think the most important thing to consider is quality--especially when someone like the OP is "insanely strict on reliability" (btw, sad to hear you lost such invaluable photos, Caitlyn :(). Other things like USB 2.0 vs. Firewire are less significant, but important nonetheless. IMO, don't skimp on quality for a better price...it may end up being costly in other ways.

    I've heard that OWC has great customer service, but if you want it fast, go to newegg.com (no customer service??? Some have made comments alluding to something like that, but I've never had a problem with my purchases through them so I have no clue.)

    My $0.02.
    jdo
     
  8. sammich macrumors 601

    sammich

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Location:
    Sarcasmville.
    #8
    Western Digital My Book Pro II

    This is great timing. I'm looking into the WD My Book Pro II 1TB version. I was almost set to buy it (saw it for AUD$560 down here), until I read up on Amazon and every second comment was "noisy" or "sounds like a hairdryer" even when it wasn't under a heavy or long load, or one hdd died, or the chipset died.

    Macworld gave it 4 1/2 mice. Anyone else have problems with this one, cos it's mostly going to be backup and in my bedroom, so it can't be noisy (never going to turn it off).

    Thanks
     
  9. mrfrosty macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    #9
    If it's that important don't buy one...........buy two and mirror / backup between them...........I know it probably feels like wasted money (it totally does to me!) but you will pat yourself on the back when one fails.
     
  10. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #10
    Unfortunately it's true, all hard drives fail regardless of the brand and price paid. I had a LaCie d2 Triple Extreme 160GB, started to act up after 1yr. I would not buy again as I spoke to LaCie support who confirmed that you don't know what HD brand is being used. LaCie makes the nicest looking external hard drives and the d2 models were extremely quiet, but got very warm as they relied on case for cooling.

    I currently have a 120GB WD Passport, 300GB Maxtor OneTouch II, 1TB Maxtor OneTouch III and a 1TB WD My Book Pro II. I was one of the people on Amazon who posted about WD 1TB being noisy and failing. My favorite drive is the 300GB Maxtor OneTouchII, it's slim, cools well and fast and never given me trouble - if you can still find them, buy one. The WD 1TB gave me the most trouble but after exchange it's been ok, the noise still bothers me even after firmware update for fan. Best thing about my WD is the 3yr warranty and user-replaceable drives. Maxtor's are quieter and only 1yr warranty and not user-serviceable.

    Typically as you buy bigger drives the cost/MB drops. If you're tight on budget, I'd suggest the WD Passport dirves, they're only 5400RPM but have proven very reliable and speedy. I have about 10,000 RAW/JPG images that I access via Adobe Lightroom and the drive is quick enough. Finally, I'd signup with www.mozy.com ($5/month for unlimited storage) and www.protectmyphotos.com ($40/yr for 40GB). Protectmyphotos is similar to Mozy as both backup your files securely over the internet (with instant restore, also tracks version changes) but it allows you to view JPG files through web access. From my experience I'd never rely on HD backup alone for my digital photos - DVD's can also fail and they're tedious to burn (and keep track of) everytime you make updates. A combination of external HD and 2 offsite online backups is my preferred route.
     
  11. mfacey macrumors 65816

    mfacey

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2004
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #11
    Mozy looks quite interesting. I like their unlimited storage vision. However, I see that they are as of yet not mac compatible (although there is a mac version in the making). How do you deal with this problem?
     
  12. BornAgainMac macrumors 603

    BornAgainMac

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Florida Resident
    #12
    Always buy two drives. A master and an apprentice.
     
  13. rockstarjoe macrumors 6502a

    rockstarjoe

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Location:
    washington dc
    #13
    Firewire passthrough

    Awesome thread, great advice all around! Can someone recommend an external drive with firewire passthrough (preferably in the 500GB range)? I was looking at the Mybook Pro but I wasn't sure if you could daisychain it with another firewire drive. Thanks.

    Edit - just want to add that I have a Maxtor Onetouch and it is a great drive... has been chugging happily along for about 2 years now.
     
  14. BornAgainMac macrumors 603

    BornAgainMac

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Florida Resident
    #14
    I have (4) MyBook Pro 500GBs using the Firewire 800 interface and it doesn't me me daisy chain them on my Powermac G5 but it does with my Powerbook G4. My Powermac G5 does let me daisy chain them using Firewire 400.

    The would estimate the speed is more than double with Firewire 800. Something like 3.5x times the speed.

    [Edit] Yes. My bad.
     
  15. Caitlyn thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
  16. Kaiser Phoenix macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 12, 2005
    Location:
    London
    #16
    I use Lacie although they arent the most cost effective option, what sold me was their enclosure.

    Data is like a piece of treasure and you wouldnt put your treasure inside a plastic enclosure would u? I personally prefer something abit more durable like metal.

    Recently I tripped over my mac and hard-drive wires and although fortunately due to the new power cable of the apple notebooks, my mbp was ok but my lacie drive went crashing on to the floor.

    Now if it was a cheap plastic encloser, im sure it would have been broken.
     
  17. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #17
    I'm running the WinXP client, works perfectly. I'm eagerly anticipating their Mac client release.
     
  18. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #18
    Also check out ZipZoomFly.com They have great customer service. Price includes 2day FedEx. When my new 1TB WD MyBookPro arrived DOA they had be send back and immediately FedEx'd me a new one.
     
  19. chriscorbin macrumors 6502

    chriscorbin

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    #19
    not the cheapest option, but in my opinion the most reliable has been G-Drive disks, strong and sturdy, mine actually survived a fire. iuse it for basic backup as well as storeing all video for Final Cut and photos from Aperture. never let me down yet and it is wicked fast, but i recommend getting 2 and keeping one at another location like work or a friends house just in case there is a fire or something(just because mine survived doesn't mean your's will) or if the HDD gods forbid the drive fails you always have a backup
     
  20. mustard macrumors 6502a

    mustard

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2005
    Location:
    NJ
    #20
    If it is 100% mission critical / priceless get two drives and run a Raid 1 (mirrored - so you have two copies) and do additional back-ups to dvd or bite the bullet or save up to get a Raid 5 System.

    I have had over a half dozen LaCie drives with only one problem out of the entire lot (one bad power brick). I currently run a 2gb LaCie S1S running in Raid 5 and haven't looked back.
     
  21. cepler macrumors member

    cepler

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    #21
    Agreed! My digital photos are stored on a RAID1 array as well as copied by an automated utility whenever the main archive is updated to 2 seperate external drives and 1 network attached storage drive. In addition I also manually copy the images to my Powerbook's firewire external drive, import to Aperture AND export an archive. Paranoid? Yup. I should probably keep 1 drive rotated out to a safe deposit box...hmmm...
     
  22. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #22
    You're not paranoid. I had a B&E 2yrs ago and the thieves scooped my laptop and external hard drives. Luckily I had copies in a $50/yr bank safety deposit box that I rotated weekly. Insurance paid for the new hardware but my digital photos would have been SOL without my paranoia :)

    Regarding RAID1, Maxtor told me that if my 1TB OneTouchIII RAID1 drive fails I'd have to send to them and they may or may not be able to pull the data off the drive. The problem is that Maxtor 1TB drives don't have any warning indicators so if 1 drive dies under RAID1, you have no way of knowing until 2nd drive dies. A big design flaw!
     
  23. mustard macrumors 6502a

    mustard

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2005
    Location:
    NJ
    #23
    What?

    If you are doing a software Raid 1 with two drives and one fails, OSX will notify you of the problem prior to the possibility of additional failure unless you have the worst luck in the world.

    When I say Raid 1 I mean two independent enclosures/drives that will mirror each other as opposed to a Multiple HDD "Raid 1" system in a single enclosure.
     
  24. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #24
    OK, since these posts have been about which external hard drive to trust I wanted to alert people to the fact that not all RAID1 advertised external hard drives are created equal :)
     
  25. Jebaloo macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2006
    #25
    Having read this, I'm now very confused!

    I thought my littel Lacie hard Drive was doing its job.. but now I'm wondering what else I should be doing. All sounds rather expensive!
     

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