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Old 2006-01-08, 03:50   Link #1
grey_moon
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Join Date: Dec 2004
External HDD Storage

I'd like to hear everyones opinion on what they consider to be the best external HDD storage for archiving stuff.

Personally the things I look for are:
  1. Reliablitiy
  2. Value for money

I haven't included speed because I use the ones I have for archives. Even when I am running VMware or Ghost off them, I find it to be the software to be the bottleneck, athough since USB is processor based it would make a difference.

The ones I have currently are:

Maxtor OneTouch II 300GB - Gets very hot even though I have turned it's speed down. It's security feature is pony because you can bypass the password by formatting the disk and recovering the data. Cost if not so good either is 75p per GB.

Maxtor OneTouch 300GB - Also gets very hot and the cost is just about bad as the previous model.

Both Maxtors take their time (roughly 5 secs) to be reconised by Windows and their power save seems rather flakey. The backup software for it is very very slow and the free XP one performs far better then it.

Akasa Integral Case with a Maxtor DiamondMax 200GB HDD - At first it seemed cheap especially compared to the maxtors at 41p per GB. They don't get hot at all, but the flashing blue sides are very annoying and the blue LED cables just make it worse. I need ask people if they suffer from fits from flashing lights before I let them enter my room... They don't seem to powersave at all, but they are very quiet so maybe I just can't hear them spin down.

LaCie USB2 FA Porsche 250GB (various hdd makes in them) - Very cheap (35p per GB), looks good, is smallest of the lot and doesn't get hot at all. The only problems I have with it are the power switch is TINY (maybe I should have mini sized tiny instead of capping it) and the USB cable is very short (30cm). It's also stackable.

Currently due to the cost, looks, size and stackability the LaCie is my firm favorite, the thing is I haven't owned them long enough to comment on their reliability. I have had the other drives for quite a while now and no reliability issues, but I do power them off when I don't use them. Speed wise I get an average of 7MB/s writing random data to them.

I think I'm going for a network solution next time and aim towards a digital home. I have heard Bad Things (TM) about the NetGear network drive, but not tried it myself.

I'll cent my p's to make the costs easier, but these are UK prices and we get sc**ed....
Maxtor - 1.32787 USD /GB
Akasa - 0.725901 USD /GB
LaCie - 0.619672 USD /GB

Last edited by grey_moon; 2006-01-08 at 04:12.
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Old 2006-01-08, 09:13   Link #2
Sides
Senior Member
 
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Edinburgh
Age: 32
I personally recommend firewire (800) over a usb2.0, especially for external drive.
The advantage of a firewire is that you can build a rack with a lot
of external HDD in a chain (17), bear in mind that the bandwidth is
then shared, so 2-3 hdd in row would be fine.

Other than that i'll would say look for a seagate or samsung drive, inside the case.
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Old 2006-01-09, 00:29   Link #3
IRJustman
Founder, Sprocket Hole
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Fresno or Sacramento, CA
Age: 46
I'm a big fan of USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 (known to most as "Firewire"). I tend to prefer building my own cases and getting a drive I like.

The only problem I have with my current drive is simply an operational one that I caused myself. The drive is formatted using SGI's XFS which is readable only by Linux systems (my anime screening box fleet runs under Linux) and MAYBE IRIX if it knows how to parse PC partition tables. This drive was originally mounted inside one of those machines, but I want the ability to use it with any of my fleet, so an external drive was the best solution. Easily fixed, but I presently don't have the disk space or the time to commit to fix this "issue". However, once done (just needs to be redone as FAT32), I can use it with any OS which will recognize it.

--Ian.

P.S. Sides: The proper name for "800 megabit Firewire" is IEEE 1394B. IEEE 1394 (no letter suffix) is 400 megabits per second.
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Old 2006-01-09, 07:18   Link #4
TougeSil80
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I think buying an external HDD is not worth it. You should get an IDE to USB 2.0 cable, then you can just buy regular internal HDDs and use them as external, and you can easily switch HDDs.
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Old 2006-01-09, 12:02   Link #5
grey_moon
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by TougeSil80
I think buying an external HDD is not worth it. You should get an IDE to USB 2.0 cable, then you can just buy regular internal HDDs and use them as external, and you can easily switch HDDs.
I considered that since pound per gig this is the most efficient, but all them exposed electronics scares me... Also I've seen what happens when someone puts a HDD on the chasis of their PC and causes a short (was not me!). I suppose one method would be to keep them in their anti static bags as long as they can take the heat. In terms of physical durability even in cases 3.5" HDDs can't take their knocks at all, so there is no disadvantage in using a USB to IDE dongle in that sense...

*EDIT*
Sniffle I made a big edit to this earlier and basically replied to Sides and said something like, good point about fw800 and do you know of any drives to recommend. Also my Maxtors are fw400 so I could move them off my USB card freeing up a host for my LaCies

This is a bit off topic, but since some drives come with backup software I thought I would mention the Retrospect Dantz backup versus the built in XP one. Just talking about interface and speeds here. The interface for both are as yucky as each other (well Dantz is a bit more yucky), but XP lets you save different jobs. Speed is the biggest difference, when doing the incremental backup (after the initial one), Dantz takes over 30 mins to do compared to 3 mins for the XP backup (I copied some data into a dir that was being backed up). Then running a incremental with no data change XP took less then 5 secs and Dantz took 5 minutes.

*/EDIT*

Last edited by grey_moon; 2006-01-09 at 15:16.
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Old 2006-01-09, 22:38   Link #6
srb
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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I have the same LaCie and I've found it to be a very good and reliable drive so far, no problems at all, and since it's oh so very cheap that would be my recommendation, unless you think USB2 is far too slow for moving around large amounts of files.
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Old 2006-01-09, 23:11   Link #7
TougeSil80
I have enough, I'm gone.
 
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by grey_moon
I considered that since pound per gig this is the most efficient, but all them exposed electronics scares me... Also I've seen what happens when someone puts a HDD on the chasis of their PC and causes a short (was not me!). I suppose one method would be to keep them in their anti static bags as long as they can take the heat. In terms of physical durability even in cases 3.5" HDDs can't take their knocks at all, so there is no disadvantage in using a USB to IDE dongle in that sense...

*EDIT*
Sniffle I made a big edit to this earlier and basically replied to Sides and said something like, good point about fw800 and do you know of any drives to recommend. Also my Maxtors are fw400 so I could move them off my USB card freeing up a host for my LaCies

This is a bit off topic, but since some drives come with backup software I thought I would mention the Retrospect Dantz backup versus the built in XP one. Just talking about interface and speeds here. The interface for both are as yucky as each other (well Dantz is a bit more yucky), but XP lets you save different jobs. Speed is the biggest difference, when doing the incremental backup (after the initial one), Dantz takes over 30 mins to do compared to 3 mins for the XP backup (I copied some data into a dir that was being backed up). Then running a incremental with no data change XP took less then 5 secs and Dantz took 5 minutes.

*/EDIT*
I keep my unused HDDs in a seperate plastic drawer, where I live is pretty dry too, so far I have no problems with it.
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Old 2006-01-10, 07:32   Link #8
grey_moon
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by srb
I have the same LaCie and I've found it to be a very good and reliable drive so far, no problems at all, and since it's oh so very cheap that would be my recommendation, unless you think USB2 is far too slow for moving around large amounts of files.
It is good to hear that the LaCie is holding up in terms of reliability. It always worries me when I don't have the data backed up up to DVD yet and the drive is untested.

To be honest I don't think I have ever remotely reached the max speeds of USB2 when transferring a large amount of files. It took me about 7 hours to move 250GB from 1 USB HDD to another. If my maths is correct that gives me a speed of ~ 80Mb/s, no where near the 480 that USB2 is capable of. I wonder what could be causing the bottle neck. When I get a chance I'll try out my Maxtors over fw400 and see if I can get an improvement.
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Old 2006-01-10, 14:56   Link #9
necrosis
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Join Date: Dec 2005
External HDD's ARE NOT for backup. Extra space for frequently used files but NEVER call external drives a 'backup' location. The same things can go wrong with a external drive as a internal drive.

As for LaCie. Yeah, they are good. But LaCie dosent make the HDD's in those fancy cases. Who does?

Maxtors are hot. Why? They are 7200 RPM drives! Come on now. The only reason any other exernal drive is cooler is most likely because its a slower drive.

FW800. Not worth it. I mean if the drive supports it ok, but if it dosent don't spend extra money to get it. Unless the drives in the case are SATA-II going to FW800 is pointless.

Quote:
I have the same LaCie and I've found it to be a very good and reliable drive so far, no problems at all, and since it's oh so very cheap that would be my recommendation, unless you think USB2 is far too slow for moving around large amounts of files.
USB 2.0 to slow? Compared to what? SCSI Ultra Wide? USB 2.0 is on avarage the same speed as FW400.
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Old 2006-01-10, 15:05   Link #10
grey_moon
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by necrosis
External HDD's ARE NOT for backup. Extra space for frequently used files but NEVER call external drives a 'backup' location. The same things can go wrong with a external drive as a internal drive.

As for LaCie. Yeah, they are good. But LaCie dosent make the HDD's in those fancy cases. Who does?
Actually they can be used for backups, just in the same way that an enterprise system will backup the data to large but cheap storage SAN and then stream it off to tape in its own time, I backup all my data to an external HDD once a night and once a week I DVD off things I consider vital ( I have these backing up to a specific dir so its easy for me to automate). Every few months I archive off my whole backup to a bunch of DVDs. Sure external HDDs are not as durable as other forms of backup, but if my internal HDD decides to go on permanant leave I have a nightly copy on my external.

One thing is about the spin speeds of the Maxtors, they may spin fast, but currently my OneTouch II is only achieving a max write of 6MB/s, whilst my OneTouch and my other ones where hitting 7MB/s and above.... I'm going to move it over to my fw400 port to eliminate it being a USB/port/cable issue... This is really annoying coz I use this drive has my main external work drive.
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Old 2006-01-10, 17:52   Link #11
Kimura-sensei
Retired AOne Staff
 
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: NYC
If you want to do backup HD method, here's another suggestion.

Purchase a regular IDE mobile rack. Those things cost like $7-20, which is real cheap. I have many of the $7 ones for my firewire case. Works perfectly fine. The tradeoff is that it's not hot pullable. Meaning, you need to shutdown your PC, turn on the rack, then turn on the PC. You can turn off the rack only when the PC is off. If you turn it off by mistake, Windows will go nuts.

If you have a recent AMD mobo or Intel mobo that supports hot pullable SATA or SATAII, you could buy a SATA mobile rack with a SATA HD. Hot pullable means that you don't have to turn off your PC in order to turn off the rack. It'll cost about same price as a factory made external HD kit which you're considering.


If you still insist with an external case, it's a good idea to try to assemble your own. It's more cost effective. Also, if you transfer alot of gigs, it's a good idea to go with firewire. If you transfer a small amount of gigs, then go with USB2. Even though, on paper that USB2 is 480mbps and Firewire400 is 400mbps, Firewire400 runs 20-30% faster than USB2. If you transfer huge files (50-100gigs or more), and do it daily or so, it's even better idea to go with Firewire 800. I'm considering to upgrade my 1.6TB Firewire array to 800 speed, since I transfer 100-200gigs of video every week. Even firewire400 is starting to get too slow for me.

Oh. I only use Seagate HD's for mission critical stuff. After 20yrs of using HD's, I don't have a single WD or Maxor alive today. Haven't lost a single Seagate yet. You could also use Samsung. It's nice, quiet, and low temp. Also durable as well. I had 1 died on me after 4yrs in a RAID0 array (pure torture test for a HD).
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Old 2006-01-10, 18:24   Link #12
Sides
Senior Member
 
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Edinburgh
Age: 32
At the moment i got have 2 external firewire cases,
purchase without HDD and fited it with seagates.
But if you want to buy complete solutions, the only thing to do is check
what kind of HDD brand is inside the case and warrenty it offers.

A (mobile) rack is also a nice solution, as suggested by Kimura-sensei.
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Old 2006-01-12, 14:18   Link #13
grey_moon
Yummy, sweet and unyuu!!!
 
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
I'm such a monkey at times, I have FW400 on some of my drives and never thought to try it out

Using Fresh Diagnose on my Maxtor OneTouch 300GB I got

FW400
Write 13.68 MB/s
Read 12.18 MB/s

USB2
Write 8.04MB/s
Read 7.05MB/s

Thank you Sides for pointing me into that direction

@Kimura-sensei - Thank you thats exactly the info I'm looking for, especially the last part about your experiences of HDDs. Althrough it is slightly worrying since my app drive is a WD, and my main data drives are Maxtors . My house m8 swears by Samsung, but his interest is in low noise.

I generally try to keep my data drives in good care by not using them for anything that will access them constantly for a long period of time, which allows them to power save. I have an old 40GB HDD which I use as a buffer when I DL stuff (or other things that bangs away at a disk for hours on end) and when its finished I archive it off to my data drives.

Last edited by grey_moon; 2006-01-12 at 14:31.
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