Which Portable hard drive is best for my MBP?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Jenko, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. Jenko macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2009
    Hi all,
    I am looking at buying a portable hard drive to back up my MBP 15" Arrandale i7 which I purchased a year ago in Ireland.
    I am not sure which one to go for but I know it would have to be at least 1tb as I have a 500gb hard drive in the MBP. A friend of mine has recommended an Iomega, but I am not sure.
    The other thing is should I be looking at usb3.0, usb2.0 or firewire. I can not get thundebolt as it is not available on this model.
    With regard to SSD or HDD I would obviously prefer SSD but I know SSD is pretty expensive and I have seen HDD for €120 euro (about $150). Also what is the deal with iCloud would this be a more suitable way of backing up my computer?
    I have thought about Time Capsule but I am not sold on the idea, plus because we live in a small house with two children it needs to be portable friendly. Any advice on the best 1tb portable hard drives out there would be great.
    Thanks Again.
  2. Sirus2400 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2008
    I know you said that you want it to be portable, but I would definitely consider a desktop backup drive since you're already running a 500GB internal drive. I really like the WD MyBook Studio that I use for backups/external storage. They come from 1-3TB so it should be plenty for backups for you and they're FW800 so it's all pretty fast. If you're worried about them getting knocked around then just unplug and hide the drive when you're not backing up. After the initial backup, the incremental backups generally only take a couple minutes at most.

    If you really can't live with a desktop solution, then there is the WD My Passport Studio. Those only come up to 640GB though. I personally prefer FW to USB, so I would stick with those. Also, USB 3.0 won't do you any good since you have USB 2.0 ports on your MBP.

    Hope this helps
  3. ChazB macrumors member

    Sep 29, 2008
    I second getting a WD, but if you're set on portable get a Passport. No need for USB 3.0 unless you plan on upgrading to a Windows machine that supports it any time soon. Take a look at the USB 2.0 one here and the faster Firewire 800 one here. Your other option is to buy one of these and put it in one of these.
  4. Brown Trout macrumors member

    Mar 6, 2011
  5. Jenko thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2009
    Thanks for the advice. I understand what your saying about the desktop option for HDD back up but I am unsure the portable version would surely be just as rugged if looked after and believe me when I say our house is tiny not much room, I have to keep the printer on top of the refrigerator. Does anyone else recommend anything, what about lacie or Iomega is WD really the best option. Would it better to look fro a portable hard drive with both firewire and USB 2.0?
    Thanks Again.
  6. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    An external USB hard disk is the safest, fastest, cheapest and most reliable way to back up locally. I use Time Machine but others prefer 3rd party utilities like SuperDuper.

    The extra speed of FireWire isn't really needed for backup after the first go-through. The connector on FireWire is easily dislodged, putting all the data on the drive at risk if that happens at the wrong moment. While I use FireWire external drives for bandwidth-intensive purposes, I'd advise sticking with USB 2 for backups.

    Next comes the issue of portability. You can get more capacious drives cheaper if they're powered by a wall-plug. Bus-powered units are a little more costly and tend to have not-as-much capacity. You need a backup drive that's at least twice as capacious as the drive(s) you're backing up.

    Ideally, you'd have two backup drives and would alternate between them. I learned that lesson once when I found my backup drive for my Windows machine had failed right when I needed to restore. Bummer.

    Having said all that, I have two Seagate 2TB USB 2 drives set up for Time Machine, reasonably small and portable but not so much so as my Western Digital Passport drives, which I use for utility purposes.
  7. ChrisNH macrumors member


    Jul 21, 2008
    southern New Hampshire
    LaCie v. WD

    I bought a new 13" MBP with the i7 processor and promptly hooked it up to my existing 320GB WD compact FireWire 800 drive. It froze soon after I tried a Time Machine backup.

    So I went on the assumption that it must be the WD drive. I contacted them and they kindly sent me a 500GB one as a replacement (the 320GB version having been put to pasture by WD).

    Wouldn't you know it: The exact same thing happened with the new drive, too!

    So now I was thinking it was the MacBook. I brought it into the Genius Bar and they saw what I saw: The thing froze.

    So, they sent me a new MacBook Pro and I thought I was all set. WRONG! Same bloody thing! It would go a few GB into the initial Time Machine backup and then freeze.

    So, now I'm in a panic. I decided to go with a LaCie HD instead of a WD one, and voila! It works like a champ.

    So...in MY situation, WD awful and LaCie terrific.
  8. annaks macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2011
    Northern Alberta, CAN, originally Auburn/Puyallup
    After Extensive Research

    After extensive research, I have found that most pros use OWC (One World Computing) which is a US internet company for Macs. I ordered mine from Canada, and they arrived promptly. They have a very rugged reliable and portable hard drive, OWC Mercury On-The-Go-Pro that has shock insulation, free backup software, and a three year warranty. A 1TB currently runs $168 USD.

    A second choice I have been using is Seagate Free Agent Go Flex, $100-120 USD. No problems so far after a year, and like the OWC, they can be USB 2 and 3 and Firewire at the same time. I really appreciate that flexibility for now and the future.

    I also use both with Mac and PC computers along with the Paragon software on my Mac for the NTFS format. Seagate Go Flex comes with Paragon for free, but it only works with Seagates. Otherwise Paragon is $20 online.

    If you find a hard drive for PC's that is cheaper than for Mac's, you can easily reformat it from NTFS for PCs to HTF+ for Macs. But first make sure the backup software is available online for Macs on the hard drive manufacture's site, or there are good free ones easily available online too.

    Amazon.com has the most user reviews on their site that I have found. (But not for any OWC, for which I have not found any poor reviews.) Western Digital My Passport gets many poor reviews compared to Seagate Go Flex.

    As for USB 2, 3, or FW, I agree with sjinsjca that FW is not needed for backups after the first time. USB 3 is in the future for Mac books I understand, but the future flexibility may be useful. Likewise, SSD is unnecessary for backups and ridiculously expensive now. I do use FW for my photos, which are stored off my Mac, for faster access for my programs.

    I believe portable hard drives are not only smaller, but some are more durable, like the OWC which has shock insulation.

    Now for cloud and Time Capsule. Like sjinsjca said and many, many others, if you highly value your data, 2 backups are necessary. This can be accomplished in several ways:
    - 2 portable hard drives with 1 stored offsite (neighbor, friend, work, etc) that you alternate perhaps weekly, depending on how much data you can afford to lose.
    - 1 hard drive PLUS either Time Machine with a second hard drive OR internet (cloud) storage.

    Advantages of Time Machine are frequent automatic backups and easy restore. I find it very convenient. A disadvantage is possible computer slow downs, and even freezes as your internal hard drive memory fills up, as mine has. Also both hard drives would probably need to be kept at the same place, depending on how often you backup.

    Offsite storage is especially important in case of fire, flood, theft, etc.

    Internet storage (cloud, online) can be very convenient, no offsite storage necessary, but pricey. Google it for prices. Many sites offer 2GB for free. Occasionally these sites do have troubles, hence the double backup strategy is still needed.

    One more bit: Consider a bootable backup. The other backups are usually for data backup only: pictures, documents, etc. When your computer fails, you will have to get a new computer before you can access your data with them.

    If you have a bootable backup you can just plug it in, USB but FW is better, and you have a useable computer again. I believe you can partition a portable backup drive to do both types of backup on the same drive if this is important to you, but double check that please.

    Remember to unplug your backup (except for Time Machine) from your computer when you are not backing up. If a virus or a power surge/interruption affects your computer it may affect any connected drives as well, which could be another disadvantage of Time Machine.

  9. 7thMac macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2010
    Great post. It's not really true that all drives and backups fail. Many are retired before that happens. But the point is that you should act as if that's the case because there is always a risk.
  10. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Speed: Firewire 800 > Firewire 400 > USB 2

    No, Firewire is NOT "easily dislodged." Maybe if you got a bad cable, but normally not.

    Good idea with using 2 drives though.
  11. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    It is indeed, at least on the MacBook Pros.

    My WD Passport came with both USB2 and FW800 cables. The FW800 cable goes into the drive with a "click" but not into the MBP, where it just sticks feebly through friction. I dislodged it accidentally several times before resolving to do something about it.

    At first, I blamed the cable too. I scoured the Internet to find a source that was recommended by IT and media pros as the very best FW800 cable. Their office turned out to be a 90 minute drive from my house in an area that I needed to visit for business reasons anyway, so I ordered the cable (wasn't cheap) and picked it up on-site. Took it home: same issue: clicks nicely into the drive, inserts insecurely into the MBP.

    So, suspecting a bad or damaged connector in my machine and a possible warranty issue, I went to the Apple Store and went from machine to machine, trying both cables. In all cases, the retention of the cable was weak, and identical to my own MBP's.

    My antics attracted the attention of a sales guy, who signaled a Genius, who came over to ask what I was doing. I showed him the weak retention of the connector, and he assured me that it's a widely known issue.

    Granted, I did not perform my tests on a desktop or Xserve machine. Perhaps they have better connectors? The one in the MBPs I tested is the most disappointing component of the machine. If Western Digital can spec a connector that clicks securely, it's a fail for Apple to not do likewise.

    Affordable, capacious Thunderbolt drives can't arrive too soon.
  12. Jenko thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2009
    Thanks to everyone for all the tips on hard drives and external back up. It is a lot to take in fro a beginner like myself. The OWC sounds great but it would be a nightmare getting it from the US and there are no suppliers here in Ireland. For what I can make out my best bet is one of the following, WD, Lacie, G-tech or Iomega. The lacie could be the winner, but it all depends on money and which is the most mac friendly and reliable as a 1tb storage device. Anyone else use any of these four with some advice?
    Thanks in advance.
  13. soLoredd macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2007
    I'm using a Seagate FreeAgent Go Flex 1TB for my MBP. Not using for Time Machine (I use a WD MyBook @ home) but I am using it for iMovie storage and to keep a backup of my Aperture vaults. Such a great drive - I was deciding between this and the WD Passport but the Seagate was $15 cheaper. Love it.
  14. wordsworth macrumors regular

    Apr 7, 2011
    I just bought an Iomega eGo 500GB Mac Edition portable drive from Amazon.co.uk at a good price. It came supplied with FW400, FW800 and USB2.0 ports and connectors. I bought it partly for the connection options (I'm using it via FW400 on my white MacBook and backing up using LaCie's (downloadable) SilverKeeper backup software, which I like very much. (I didn't get very far with Iomega's own downloadable software at all.)

    I also have LaCie's 'FC Porsche' hard drive (from about 2003 or so) plugged into my old G3 iMac (when I run it) and it's proven very reliable (like the iMac) though sometimes it wouldn't 'mount' on the iMac's desktop and all I could do was switch the drive off (yikes) and try again. I use SilverKeeper with it. Nice and simple and you can partition the drive and/or have a bootable drive

    I've only had the eGo a few weeks but it seems to be doing its job.
  15. Jenko thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2009
    I like the look of the Lacie rugged, but I am having second thoughts about a time capsule, does anyone have any advice on time capsule versus portable hard drive beside the obvious wireless advantage. I am not 100% convinced about spending the extra money and the lacie would be portable. Not sure decisions are wrecking my head a little.
    Help please.
  16. Fishman Dan macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2011
    I'll start with my summary: USB 2 will be plenty sufficient. The first backup may take longer, but from there it's hardly worth documenting any time saving using FW800 or other options.

    The best solution may be an external enclosure + drive purchased independently. FWIW my disk is a Hitachi - mass produced and used widely in the market. It might come down to your brand preference if you have one (there are many anti-Hitachi, personally I am anti-Western Digital ... it's a personal thing).

    Essentially any drive case will do. I bought a cheap 320 Gb Verbatim external disk - initially with the intention of removing the disk for my PS3. The sum total is that the 160 Gb from my PS3 is now in my external case, which is easily opened if/when I need to muck around with other drives (have had the need).

    The (Verbatim) drive case now sits pride-of-place next to my MBP or plugged into the USB port in my Airport Extreme. It has been re-branded with an Apple sticker from one of my many Apple purchases ;)
  17. Jenko thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Thanks Fishman Dan. Sounds like a useful idea but Unfortunately I would not be proficient enough to put my own HDD together. It will have to be something like a Lacie, Iomega or Time Capsule.
  18. ChrisNH macrumors member


    Jul 21, 2008
    southern New Hampshire
    I have to apologize!

    In my earlier post, I mentioned that it was a LaCie drive that gave me the most success after horrible Time Machine performance with a WD drive.

    In fact, it is an IOMEGA drive---the RED one---that I got and now works flawlessly. Somehow I had LaCie on the brain.

    Anyway, my IOMEGA red drive is 500GB and has Firewire 400/800 & USB connectivity. I absolutely LOVE it simply because it is doing the job that the WD wouldn't/couldn't.

    Sorry for my earlier mistake.
  19. Jenko thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Thanks to everyone for your advice. I have narrowed it down to either the Iomega ego 1tb or the Lacie rugged 1tb. It might come down to which is the better value for purchasing and which is the easiest to run with time machine. The Lacie seems to look like the stronger of the two but it is the most expensive. And the Iomega looks a lot lighter and cheaper. Still no firm decision made yet any ideas Lacie Rugged or Iomega ego. Thanks again.
  20. tbobmccoy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I too vouch or this drive; Iomega's quality is hands down the best I've had in HDDs ina while. I have this exact drive and love it. Since it's both usb2 and fw400/800, you can choose the connector you want. I prefer fw800 for speed, and I can assure you it smokes usb2 handily.
  21. glennsan macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2002
    San Diego
    Iomega HD Hot!

    I have had the same hard drive for a year or so. While it works it gets so hot when I transfer files that I have to unplug it the second it gets done. I am afraid I am going to burn something inside it. It is the last one of these that I buy.

  22. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    I have to suggest against a Western Digital drive. MyBooks have an extreme failure rate. I have a room full, literally of broken ones at work. Its not so much the drive that fails on most of them but the enclosure, and its a pain to open them and try and get the drive out.
  23. Shadow%20Mac macrumors 6502

    Dec 28, 2007
    Western Digital MyPassort SE Portable 1TB
    available in many colors, USB 2.0/3.0 compatible...
  24. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    If you can use a small Philips ("+") screwdriver (and have one) you can put your own HDD together. Nothing more than screwing and unscrewing is required. Unscrew 2-4 small screws, open the case, slide the drive into place, fasten it with 4 screws, reassemble the case and screw the case screws into place. That's it.

    So if you see a case you like, and a drive you like, don't fear the task.
  25. Jenko thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2009
    Thanks guys. Any thought s on the Lacie rugged? The Iomega seems to be getting some good feedback, but the idea of it getting too hot to handle does not sound good. Hmmmmmm... still not sure Lacie or Iomega, decisions, decisions.

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