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A Review of the Top Four External Hard Drives

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the nothing-like-a-good-backup dept.

Data Storage 180

Lucas123 writes "There's a really good, detailed review at the Computerworld site on the top four external hard drives with more than 500GB of capacity. The story reveals some big flaws in the external drives, like malfunctioning one-touch backup buttons, USB 2.0 ports that don't recognize the drives, and drives coming out of the boxes unformatted. It's also an eye opener with regard to actual backup speeds. 'Broadband connections, peer-to-peer networks and larger media files coupled with new regulations that require diligence in backing up files have clearly affected the external hard drive market as drive capacities expand to 1TB and beyond. Meanwhile, the prices of those drives continue to drop, making them ever more attractive, particularly with the ease of deployment -- literally a two-minute installation, and you're ready to go. We put four of the leading external hard drives to the test. Our criteria were simple: The drives had to have multiple connection technologies (USB 2.0 plus FireWire 400 or FireWire 800 or both), include backup software and have a capacity of at least 500GB.'"

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TFA: one page, less advertising (5, Informative)

choongiri (840652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18706835)

TFA: one page, no advertising: (0)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18706899)

The cheaper, the better

FTA:

In the end, we find that our favorite drive wins over the runner-up based on price and a couple of nice-to-have but by no means critical features.

Re:TFA: one page, less advertising (4, Funny)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 7 years ago | (#18706995)

Now why did you go ahead and do that? Lucas123 was just trying to use a Slashdot Submission to drive traffic to his site in the hopes he could get some additional advertising revenue. It's not like he's Roland Piquapalle.......Oh, wait. Never mind.

Re:TFA: one page, less advertising (1)

choongiri (840652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707755)

There are still two prominent flash advertisements on the print page. IMO, that is more than a reasonable amount of advertising to be viewing when reading a relatively short article. OTOH, TFA had 3 prominent advertisements per page, a substantial "partnered content" section and "featured links", on every single page of the article chopped up into 5-pages. I presume the 2 popups per page view the site attempted to spawn (that firefox blocked) would also have been advertisements, totaling 25+ advertisements, 4 additional clicks, plus substantial crud I am required to wade through just to read the relatively short amount of content. No thanks, I clicked on TFA and immediately looked for the "print" button.

Re:TFA: one page, less advertising (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708059)

I was trying to be sarcastic. You did the right thing.

Re:TFA: one page, less advertising (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708065)

Use Opera, turn off javascript and plugins and graphics until you actually want it. I generally don't see any ads except the google text ads.

here is my favorite external hard drive (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18706839)

here you go, enjoy! [goatse.ca]

Re:here is my favorite external hard drive (2, Insightful)

Doctor-Optimal (975263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707117)

Sure, the I/O speed is great but the retention? Not so good...

Re:here is my favorite external hard drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708707)

EWwWwWwWwWwWwWWwWwWwWwWwWWwWwWWwWwWWwWwWwW!!!

Why wasn't the LaCie rated higher? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18706873)

I've never heard of this brand, and for the price and all of the tests it spanked the pants off of all the rest of the drives.. I see he didn't like the quirks but it smoked the rest of them.

Re:Why wasn't the LaCie rated higher? (1)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18706993)

They were mad that some of the features didn't work as advertised. I'm sure if they work the kinks out they'll have a strong product.

Re:Why wasn't the LaCie rated higher? (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707097)

Lacie has been around in the Mac world for a long time, which may explain the nice Firewire performance. It may also explain why it "wasn't formatted"... I'm speculating, but it is conceivable that it was Mac-formatted. Or not. I'm not sure who would back up to a drive without first doing a format anyway, if only to check for integrity.

Regarding the inoperable button, which is their main complaint about the drive, I'm surprised that they didn't contact Lacie support and report back... it's conceivable that it is a know issue or a bum unit. Then again, I'm rarely impressed by the reporting at Computerworld.

Valid reasons for not preformatting. (4, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707377)

Well, if it's designed for a Mac, it's possible that it's not formatted on purpose: first, because it's trivial to format a drive when you connect it up the first time (plug drive in, dialog comes up saying that it's not formatted, would you like to format it, click yes ... etc.), and also because there are a few filesystems that people might want.

Apple's Disk Utility offers six options to format a disk into: Mac OS Extended (HFS+), Mac OS Extended (HFS+) Journaled, Mac OS Extended (HFS+) Case-Sensitive, Mac OS Extended (HFS+) Case-Sensitive Journaled, MS-DOS File System (FAT32), UNIX File System (EXT2?).

I guess I would assume that a "high end" HW manufacturer like Lacie would pre-format the drives to Mac OS Extended Journaled, because that's what Apple recommends as a default these days, but particularly if it's a product that's being aimed at non-clueless users, they might have just decided it wasn't worth it.

Re:Valid reasons for not preformatting. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707725)

It's also a tech-support nightmare if they format it to FAT32 (for wide compatibility) and then users complain because their backups from NTFS or HFS are unusable. Better to just leave it to the system that they plug it into. If they format it as NTFS it will mount as read-only on Macs... not a good option for a Mac vendor.

Re:Valid reasons for not preformatting. (1)

dadragon (177695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707987)

UNIX File System (EXT2?)

Nope, it's actually very similar to FFS, the default filesystem of {Free,Net,Open}BSD. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] will tell you more.

Re:Valid reasons for not preformatting. (0, Redundant)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708515)

Admins can tell you that FFS also means "for fuck's sake!" when something goes wrong.

LaCie support = good (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708537)

I guess I would assume that a "high end" HW manufacturer like Lacie would pre-format the drives to Mac OS Extended Journaled, because that's what Apple recommends as a default these days...
Bingo. As a LaCie owner with both Mac & PC, they do default to PowerPC vanilla-HFS so any MacOS version can load it up. If the drive stops working properly in OSX their tech support will automatically give you a RMA and not a half hour of Windows tests to try. Their website and phone staff are pretty good too.. I've talked with both the U.S. and Canada guys.

Also, from experience, these are tough buggers. My Big Disk Extreme needed to have it's interface card replaced. The connection died on the PC, then the Mac. Had some private stuff on there, and they SAY that repair service will wipe the drive, but y'know... So, without cracking the case I gave it a go-over with a full-bore pistol-grip demagnetizer, the kind that plugs in AC, vibrates, and shouldn't run for more than 30 minutes. The drive came back in a week with a new interface card, and all my data perfectly in tact. Perfectly. Which in itself was disconcerting.

My only complaint is that despite having three interfaces, you can't have all three connected to different computers at the same time. That's just too much to ask for I guess. Time for a standalone 4-drive bay, methinks.

Re:Why wasn't the LaCie rated higher? (2, Interesting)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707579)

All the drives I purchased were formatted FAT32.

I always format them to NTFS or EXT3 or HFS+ To allow big files to be on them.

Not much point in a 100 GB+ drive that you can't put your DVD ISOs on IMHO.

I wonder if there will be a new universaly supported lowest common denominator like FAT32 by the time 8TiB drives come out though.

It is convienient to be able to write to your disks from every computer.

Re:Why wasn't the LaCie rated higher? (0, Redundant)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707777)

The main problem with FAT32 is that your backups will be garbage from NTFS or HFS+, yet the failure might be silent. Lacie could load the drive with NTFS, but this would mount read-only on Macs... also a support nightmare. Better to just leave it unformatted and let the system prompt you the first time that you plug it in, no matter what system you are on.

Re:Why wasn't the LaCie rated higher? (2, Informative)

Bob C. Cock (605290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707407)

My employer uses LaCie drives and I frequently see problems where Windows can't detect the device. I was working on a Server 2003 machine earlier and connected one of our BigDisk Firewire/USB LaCie drives to it, and Windows wasn't finding it. I pulled it and connected another drive of the exact same model to the same server and it came up fine. LaCie's have been pretty flakey in my experience, if you're looking for an external USB drive, don't get a LaCie.

Re:Why wasn't the LaCie rated higher? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708329)

LaCie is pretty well known in the Apple world - FWIW. I've used them (on PCs) for a couple of years, have 4 different models and have been happy with them. Don't have the Quadra but these days, with all of the various incarnations and incantations of USB/firewire chips, I'm not at all surprised that they don't all work and play happily with each other.

For the average Slashdot reader, a minor compatibility issue might not be such a big deal as there is likely a workaround. But if you're pitching this "review" - shallow as it is - to folks that think pressing a single button is the Way to Backup, well, anything that slows them down is going to be an issue. Remember folks in this day and age Computer == Appliance. Set and forget. Right, Bill?

Why not just do it yourself? (5, Insightful)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18706895)

Why not just do it yourself? All you have to do is buy an enclosure and a drive...

-It's cheaper to buy the two separately.
-You get to pick your drive case (color, features, etc.)
-You get to pick your drive (WD, Maxtor, Seagate).
-While OEM drives often come with more than a year warranty (SG is 5 years, I believe WD is three), regular external drives often come with a one year warranty.

While you do lose a few features (I'm dying for a good enclosure w/ one button backup), it's cheaper and you have more selection. Plus, the software that comes with external hard drives is such crap anyways (Seagate and BounceBack Crippled/Express Edition).

Of course, as a slashdotter, I may not be representative of the average computer user (OK, I'm not).

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707081)

I agree it's cheaper, and you want to partition/format it in your preferred way anyhow (FAT32, NTFS, EXT2, etc). The only thing here is watching out for shitty enclosures -- the cheap ones with insufficient cooling. Even if made of metal, sometimes they fry. I've seen countless ByteCC enclosures go bad (to the point of not even worrying about RMA'ing it, what good is another enclosure that'll last another 2 weeks?) I'd at least opt for one with a cooling fan, or at the VERY least one with a good warranty (that's perhaps the ONLY item I'd ever buy an extended warranty for!)

As for the one-touch button, I don't see much of a need for it personally. Besides, what does it do? It just launches the sync software -- my actual worry (software must already be installed for it to work in the first place). Just give me good sync'ing software and I'll be happy (I'll just schedule it or start it manually) -- preferably freeware/open source. Buying a drive already in an enclosure doesn't do one any good here. There just isn't a whole lot of sync'ing software that "just works" (I'm using SyncBack SE personally).

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707207)

/me ponders "500 GB formatted FAT32" - *head asplodes*

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707363)

I tried to put FAT32 on a 360GB drive recently. XP wouldn't let me. Microsoft had a hotfix that didn't work either.
OSX let me do it - no hassles..

/K

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1)

Billy the Impaler (886238) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707547)

The Windows FAT32 formatter is intentionally broken so that it cannot format partitions greater than ~32GiB. They want you to use NTFS.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (2, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707563)

Fat32 [wikipedia.org] has support for up to 8 TiB of data in a volume (partition). However the windows included utilities only let you format FAT32 drives up to 32 GiB. However, I'm with you, I fail to see why you would format a 500 GB drive with FAT32. It has a maximum file size of 4 GB, which can be pretty small once you start dealing with video, and DVD images. Of course, the plus side of FAT32 is that it can be read just about anywhere. Still I wish windows had good support for EXT2.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (3, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707975)

Still I wish windows had good support for EXT2.

Not the best, but Explore2FS [chrysocome.net] is pretty nice.

Of course, writing a Windows File System is a black art. If MS documented it better, maybe there'd be more third party file systems.

You might want to look at this [fs-driver.org] as well -- disclaimer, I haven't tried it, don't know how good it is.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707129)

Perhaps I simply haven't wandered into nirvana, but the typical store bought external drive enclosure around here is a real POS.

I've had more drives fail in external enclosures with cruddy power/controller issues than I even want to remember. While I haven't switched to premade external drives (instead I'm moving towards mini-file servers stuffed with drives), most of the ones I've bumped into at least give the impression of not being cheap plastic cases.

If I weren't drooling over the idea of having a rack of servers which could do more than their primary task of running drive farms, I certainly would go pre-made vs homemade after my experiences.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707141)

They also cater to a larger market than the tech-savvy with their:
crappy software that makes the backup process more pretty
sparkley cases that are already put together
nifty one-button simplicity

Heck, I've seen someone pay $300 more on a notably crappier laptop than one I suggested because of the customizable case.
I agree as that's the way I've always gone but hey, it's how a lot of people think.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1)

aarku (151823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707151)

My problem is that there is too much selection. I spent hours on newegg trying to find the one I should buy. I was looking for something that supported SATA drives, and had FireWire 400/800, USB 2, and eSATA connections. And something that didn't look like complete ass and have a noisy fan. No luck!

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708433)

>And something that didn't look like complete ass
You want something that looks like incomplete ass?

Cheaper than $135? (4, Insightful)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707175)

Cheaper than $135 for a 500GB USB 2 drive? That is how much my Maxtor One Touch III 500GB USB2 drive cost. And by the way, why wasn't Maxtor included in this lineup? Even though it was bought up, it still produces a different (and apparently cheaper) product.

Re:Cheaper than $135? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707393)

I believe they made sure they only looked at the more expensive ones.

The drives had to have multiple connection technologies (USB 2.0 plus FireWire 400 or FireWire 800 or both), include backup software and have a capacity of at least 500GB.

Your $135 works out at about $0.27 per GB which is very nice.

Re:Cheaper than $135? (3, Informative)

Paul Carver (4555) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707869)

That's a great price, but Newegg currently has that exact drive (Maxtor One Touch III 500GB) for $155. Amazon doesn't seem to have it but they have a 300GB version for $170 and a 600GB version for $417. www.maxtorstore.com is also selling the 300GB version for $170.

So, if you managed to get a deal buying it for $20 less than the already low price at Newegg then good for you, but don't pretend that that's the common going rate for external hard drives.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707179)

While you do lose a few features (I'm dying for a good enclosure w/ one button backup), it's cheaper and you have more selection. Plus, the software that comes with external hard drives is such crap anyways (Seagate and BounceBack Crippled/Express Edition).

Why use a one button backup when it's pretty trivial to write a shell script that'll do an Rsync backup?

Thanks for the tip about buying the enclosure and the drive separately. I've been looking for a 250GB+ drive to do Rsyncs of my laptops to, and then let my mini manage syncing them to my web host.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (3, Insightful)

Hokie06 (986634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707479)

Why use a one button backup when it's pretty trivial to write a shell script that'll do an Rsync backup?

Trivial to many slashdotters? Yes. Trivial to the average user? No.
Average user's response. What's a shell script? What the hell is rsync?

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708867)

More likely they wouldn't even ask, and would think a shell script is the starting point of a new movie and Rsync is some new parody band.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1)

ThisNukes4u (752508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707309)

While you do lose a few features (I'm dying for a good enclosure w/ one button backup), it's cheaper and you have more selection. Plus, the software that comes with external hard drives is such crap anyways (Seagate and BounceBack Crippled/Express Edition).
Also, afaik, you can't access the SMART data from the drive over usb/firewire, you have to plug it in to a regular IDE or sata/esata port.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707661)

I've actually wanted to buy my own case and drive separately, but I wasn't sure that they would be compatible. I stopped keeping track of hard drive interfaces around SCSI I used in the 1995-era Macs, so I'm clueless about the current standards. Wouldn't I run the risk of having a drive with a different interface as what the case uses "internally"? (I'm assuming that hard drives themselves don't have USB interfaces, just the cases, where it's converted to ATA or whatever the current fad is). Thanks for any further info.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708481)

Yes, there's the possibility of that happening, but if you go to a decent parts site, it'll tell you what interfaces the drive supports and which the enclosure supports (IE SATA, Firewire, USB2.0, E-SATA, etcetera.), so as long as you're somewhat careful, you shouldn't run into any problems.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707883)

Because it's unreliable. I did it myself a few years ago - replaced a perfectly functional Maxtor 40GB USB1 external drive with a WD 100GB in a USB2 case. 95% of the time, the drive wasn't recognized by the OS.

I don't give a whit about "one-touch" capability. But reliability is key.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1)

hasrat (898178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708565)

The cost difference is no longer significant. The cost of an external drives ~= internal drive + enclosure. If the idea is to reuse the same enclosure for multiple internal drives, then storing the internal drives remains a problem.

Re:Why not just do it yourself? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708627)

I'll basically echo the other sentiments. Most separate enclosures that I've seen are worse than the complete drives that I've seen. The one WD enclosure is generally more reliable and more compatible than most of the separate enclosures I've bought. The only external enclosure I liked was a $140 dual drive FW800 enclosure that I bought last year. On one enclosure, the metal edges inside the case were razor sharp such that I accidentally cut myself.

I don't care about the button or the software either. Color and style isn't as important as reliability.

What the shit is this? (1, Informative)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18706939)

Article = trap. Save your money.

I get my 500gb hard drives from new egg. Was $179 last year, down to $159 now. Maxtor Onetouch 3. Reasonably quiet (can't hear it move than a few feet away), comes preformatted. Doesn't spin down after like 5m of inactivity. Only issue is that it has an huge, annoying blinking light even when idle. I cover that with a beer can.

Re:What the shit is this? (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707385)

...annoying blinking light even when idle. I cover that with a beer can.

Hmmm, that's not going to work for me then, I use bear bottles, thus my setup is incompatible with this blinking light of which you speak. Oh well, you get what you pay for.

Re:What the shit is this? (3, Funny)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707689)

Hmmm, that's not going to work for me then, I use bear bottles, thus my setup is incompatible with this blinking light of which you speak.

Incompatibilities aside, I've got to ask: How the heck do you manage to bottle a bear?

Re:What the shit is this? (4, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707863)

Very carefully?

Re:What the shit is this? (1)

nra1871 (836627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708769)

Pabst has mastered this with my favorite malt beverage....BIG BEAR.

Re:What the shit is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708375)

Um, it's Maxtor, it'll be dead shortly after warranty is up.

Agreed. Maxtor is the $hit. (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708619)

I've got a Maxtor OneTouch III Turbo Edition 1TB Array (2x 500GB drives) and the same damn blinking lights. And it's completely distracting -- hypnotic, even. Even more distracting because the logic behind the blink patterns seems completely inscrutable... and I keep trying to scrute it...

And although I've never done any performance testing on it, it's perfectly fast enough for its intended use on a PVR system, even configured as RAID1 (mirrored), and connected to its host iMac via FW400. I can simultaneously record from the tuner, playback on the host, and playback on a wifi peer as well, with no dropped frames. In practical terms, if it weren't for the blinkinlights, I'd never notice it was there.

Which is the way it should be.

Not everyone needs 500GB (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18706951)

I just put together a 250GB USB drive a month or so ago. With a commodity $40 USB case and a $100 western digital hard-drive, I've got an awesome backup solution for my home machine. At that price (or a little better if you want a bigger disk), you can have a tremendous amount of near-line storage available to you.

Granted, my low tech solution of turning on the drive, copying files onto it, and then turning the drive off isn't as whiz-bangy as getting backup software -- but, I've been copying tar files to filesystems for a long time, so I think I can cope. :-P

I know someone with about a terabyte of disk space in USB enclosures.

Cheers

Re:Not everyone needs 500GB (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707265)

Granted, my low tech solution of turning on the drive, copying files onto it, and then turning the drive off isn't as whiz-bangy as getting backup software -- but, I've been copying tar files to filesystems for a long time, so I think I can cope. :-P

You just reminded me of Sally Field in that Boniva [boniva.com] commercial. Quoth Sally:

"My girlfriend complained to me the other day that she has to set aside time once a week in order to take her osteoporosis medicine. I only need to take Boniva once a month

Your solution may work for you, but if Americans can't even set aside five friggin' minutes a week to take a pill, I think most of us will be going with the 'whiz-bangy' solution.

Re:Not everyone needs 500GB (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707361)

Your solution may work for you, but if Americans can't even set aside five friggin' minutes a week to take a pill, I think most of us will be going with the 'whiz-bangy' solution.

Well, not being an American, I don't have to worry then, do I? ;-)

Don't get me wrong, I can see why there would be a demand for this -- most people won't know how to do their own backups.

I'm just saying, if you're even remotely computer savvy ... a one button backup isn't really that critical.

However, I think you might be the first person I've ever seen on Slashdot quote Sally Fields. Congratulations on that. ;-)

Cheers

Re:Not everyone needs 500GB - NearLine? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707395)

a tremendous amount of near-line storage available to you

What do you mean, near-line. USB speeds compare favorably with other consumer harddrive connection protocols.

Re:Not everyone needs 500GB - NearLine? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707587)

What do you mean, near-line. USB speeds compare favorably with other consumer harddrive connection protocols.

Hmmm .... near-line means available, but not necessarily mounted and live all of the time. My USB drives aren't always on, but they can be when I need them. Think of it as a tape library, but different. I can have an unlimited amount of un-mounted USB drives, any of which can be ready to be used within a few minutes of deciding I need it.

Some linky goodness

here [techtarget.com]
here [webopedia.com]
here [wikipedia.org]

Cheers

Meta: Another page view pumper (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707003)

Oh look, when I put the mouse pointer over "Lucas123" my status bar says "http://www.computerworld.com". Heck, his summary even refers to "our criteria".

Go ahead and RTFA, but arm your adblockers first!

Re:Meta: Another page view pumper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707075)

Seriously. That article was completely buried in crap.

Re:Meta: Another page view pumper (0, Troll)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707079)

The summary is a direct quote from the article. This isn't to say that he is or is not an employee of CW but he didn't write the summary.

In any case, maybe he is an employee or just a sad, sad man with no other URL to point to.

Re:Meta: Another page view pumper (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707995)

THANK YOU!!1! That saves me the trouble and eye strain. As for One Touch... who needs it? Maybe grandma to backup her pr0n? I can see only two uses for the "One Touch" button; Data Self Destruct, and... and that's it.

Pretty blue LED though.

Hows Do They Compare To a DIY Solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707029)

I'm in the process of ordering a 750 GB SATA drive and "empty shell" enclosure. That means in 6 months I can swap out the 750 GB drive when it gets full for another for just the price of the drive itself.

I always wondered why people went with the enclosures with a built in drive instead of an enclosure that is user changeable. Am I missing something?

Western Digital Passport? My Book "Essential"? (4, Informative)

MiceHead (723398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707105)

I've purchased a few WD Passports (they're up to 160GB now [wdc.com] ), and while they seem to be meant more for personal "sync up your stuff!" use, they're not bad for backups. In their favor are the facts that they're powered by USB (you can just plug one in and go, sans supply) and that they're relatively small. The tradeoff is the modest capacity (I really like that we can call 160,000 megabytes "modest" -- simple pleasures for a simple mind, I suppose) and the price-for-storage (they're much more expensive per gig than the WD My Books).

TFA reviews the My Book Pro, but they also have a USB-only My Book "Essential" (read: Cheaper!) version; anyone tried those?
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Re:Western Digital Passport? My Book "Essential"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707259)

I have the 160GB MyBook Essential and have been happy with it. Transfer is quick with USB and it powers off when the computer is off and comes on when the computer is on, so no need to power the drive on and off separately. I have been happy with my 160GB and am planning on getting one of the 500GB MyBook Essential drives sometime soon to increase my capacity. No need for me to go with the MyBook Pro since I am using the drives on a cheap Compaq laptop with no Firewire ports on it.

Re:Western Digital Passport? My Book "Essential"? (1)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707285)

In their favor are the facts that they're powered by USB (you can just plug one in and go, sans supply)

Although that might seem better, I would call that a showstoppingly critical design flaw.

USB allows for half a Watt for powered devices. A HDD spinning up can easily draw over 20W. Most USB controllers will handle quite a lot more than the spec'd 0.5W, but 40x more really pushes your luck. A good MB should just shut down that channel. A bad MB might simply cook.

Re:Western Digital Passport? My Book "Essential"? (2, Informative)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707691)

USB allows for half a Watt for powered devices. A HDD spinning up can easily draw over 20W. Most USB controllers will handle quite a lot more than the spec'd 0.5W, but 40x more really pushes your luck.
Actually, that is 2.5 watts, not .5 watts (check the USB specs). And the devices he's talking about are built around 2.5 inch laptop drives. Of course you're technically right that powering ordinary drives via USB... but hey, the parent poster didn't suggest that (and I've never seen anyone else do that!). These USB powered discs actually work and are correctly designed... lots of companies make them and has for years.

Re:Western Digital Passport? My Book "Essential"? (1)

hasdikarlsam (414514) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708601)

It further strikes me that if spinning up takes that much power, you can use more time. Or charge some capacitors first, if that isn't an option for some reason.

Re:Western Digital Passport? My Book "Essential"? (1)

Stephen Williams (23750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707349)

they also have a USB-only My Book "Essential" (read: Cheaper!) version; anyone tried those?

I have the 250G model. I use it for backups; I rsync my box to it once a week. Perfectly fine for my needs. I haven't had it for very long, mind, so can't comment on long-term reliability.

-Stephen

Re: WD Passports and Mac laptops (2, Informative)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707971)

I have a 160GB Passport drive myself, and while it's pretty cool - I do have to caution people about them. If you have an Apple Powerbook G4 aluminum as your notebook, this drive doesn't work with it. Apparently, those Powerbooks didn't provide quite enough power on their USB ports to run these. It will "sort of" spin up but never actually mount on the desktop as a drive ready to use.

I sold my Powerbook G4 15" a while back though, and now use a Macbook Pro, which works with the WD Passport without problems.

Re:Western Digital Passport? My Book "Essential"? (1)

Joelfabulous (1045392) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708413)

My buddy bought a Western Digital MyBook Essential the other day. According to their website (www.westerndigital.com), it's basically the same sort of drive as the MyBook Pro, minus the Firewire 400 and 800 connections, and that fancy digital space output on the drive. He had a gift certificate for Best Buy or something and got that because the next one up which had Firewire and the same amount of storage was prohibitively expensive. I told him he would've wanted to get something with Firewire 800, but no worries. He's happy with it as is. It runs off A/C power, so you can't use the USB power feature of the Passport series, though.

Neat stuff. Maybe I should get a Passport for myself eventually.

Re:Western Digital Passport? My Book "Essential"? (1)

daybot (911557) | more than 7 years ago | (#18709079)

TFA reviews the My Book Pro, but they also have a USB-only My Book "Essential" (read: Cheaper!) version; anyone tried those?

Yep - I have a My Book Pro 500GB as per article and a My Book Essential Edition 400GB. They also do a Premium drive which sits between the two - it has USB2.0 and FireWire 400 but not the 800. I use my drives on a MacBook Pro and am happy with both. Setup is plug in and go and I don't use any of the included software. I bought the Pro version for the FireWire 800 alone; the status rings you get on the Pro and Premium drives aren't particularly useful - they don't show anything you can't find in an instant on-screen. Basically buy a Pro if you want Firewire 800, a Premium if you want Firewire 400 or the Essential if you're happy with USB2.0.

Review flaws (2, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707149)

  1. They didn't review Buffalo (which uses Linux for its firmware on some/all of its drives)
  2. They didn't review any NAS drives, which eliminate the need for another computer and are "always on" for WiFi laptops
  3. They didn't need to open the review with excuses for larger hard drives. Parkinson's Law is sufficient for that. 500+ GB hard drives are great for storing a bunch of ripped CDs and DVDs. But we lived for a decade or two without needing to do that. Now that hard drives of that size are available, we want to do that.

Re:Review flaws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707403)

Any good recommendations for storage, which is:

- at least 1.5-2 TB to start with
- can be extended, possibly by "daisy chaining" and "merge" the available new space with existing volume (not as a new directory, but as if the entire volume would grow)
- can be mounted either to Linux maybe on Win server
- possibly has some hardware failure redundancy (RAID5?)
- low footprint (U-rack?)
- low power consumption
- only a few users would access the files at the same time (no need for robust SAN)

Different options looked at so far: Lacy 2T firewire/USB drive, Synology, Buffalo

Any recommendations?

Thanks!

Re:Review flaws (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707945)

Yeah, forget RAID. Home storage doesn't need that kind of uptime. Instead, buy one NAS drive and two USB drives. The USB drives are backups -- one hidden in your own house and another hidden offsite. This strategy protects against burglary and fire, whereas RAID alone does not. It's also physically smaller and consumes less power.

The Buffalo LinkStation NAS has a USB port for daisy-chaining, but I haven't used it yet. The Buffalo LinkStation NAS is physically kind of large, but it comes in a 750GB capacity. Buffalo recently started selling an even physically larger unit with 1.5TB -- two 750GB's married.

P.S. When making complete backups under Windows, use Robocopy (available from Microsoft Resource Kits) in the /B(ackup) mode.

Re:Review flaws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708217)

I have a cron job run on my buffalo NAS (linux) that does all the backups to the USB drive. No need for robocopy... rsync and tar work great. The NAS storage is completely from the clients, and has all the software it needs. I even have the NAS OS files mirrored such that the backup drive can take the place of the drive embedded in the NAS.

The NAS is also great for downloading torrents and wget on it's own.

Re:Review flaws (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708125)

Get a cheapo 1GHz box with 3 contiguous 5 1/4 bays, 5 SATA drives, a SATA controller, and put up a Linux box, software RAID it, which can expand RAID 5 arrays (few hardware RAID can), LVM on top of that. This gives you everything you want and is about as cheap as you can possibly do what you're looking for. Share files with NFS & Samba.

http://www.addonics.com/products/raid_system/ae4rc s35nsa.asp [addonics.com]

Re:Review flaws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707921)

Usb storage is different to NAS, and serves a different purpose (backup + temp storage). It can be unmounted easily, and controlled by anything that it is connected to (I have mine connected directly to my buffalo NAS).

Personally I would like to see computers and NAS standardize on eSATA for external HDs... they already have fast SATA controllers.

Re:Review flaws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708543)

They didn't review Buffalo (which uses Linux for its firmware on some/all of its drives)

OK, I'll bite: Aside from it being Linux based can you give us one reason it should be reviewed? Outside of the insanely narrow minded world of slashdot having a device using Linux means nothing.

I hope branding counts (1)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707217)

Hopefully its the brands and not these specific models, as I have Iomega, LaCie, and Western Digital external drives, but in different models. My latest purchase was a 320 GB Iomega, but the 2 LaCie's are pretty new as well.

Stupid Review Standards (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707249)

Why should we care about the bundleware backup software?

A godsend! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707255)

I have been in the market for a 500+ gigabyte external hard drive for months now, and I found this article to be very helpful and informative. Thanks to the information provided by this article, I have decided on the Iomega 750 GB hard drive as a viable backup solution for my extensive collection of gay cumshots, goatse pictures and man/horse bestiality videos. Thank you, Lucas123, for helping out your fellow homosexual. Cheers, mate!

No G-tech ? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707263)

Don't look at G-tech because they blow away all of these cheaply made enclosures.

Multiple Drive USB Enclosure (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707373)

USB+Power enclosures for IDE and SATA drives cost about $25; USB adapters alone cost about $15. Why doesn't a single enclosure for 8 or 12 drives (with appropriate mounting screws to avoid vibration that wears drives), including a USB hub and adapters and a single sufficient powersupply, cost $50, or maybe $100? They seem to cost $300-500.

Why doesn't an 12 drive enclosure with powersupply, PIII motherboard with nothing but IDE/SATA and Gb-ethernet running Linux/RAID cost under $200?

Firewire still beat out USB (4, Insightful)

pammon (831694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707397)

The most interesting aspect of the review is that Firewire outperformed USB for every drive in every aspect of the testing. I guess some things don't change.

Re:Firewire still beat out USB (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18707795)

no shit, sherlock! in other news, CDs are still beating every aspect of floppies.
did you really expect USB to beat firewire? how? why? wtf?

Re:Firewire still beat out USB (1)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708303)

It may be to do with the irony that USB is far more popular than Firewire, despite being inferior.

Re:Firewire still beat out USB (4, Insightful)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708479)

For every superior piece of technology, there's an inferior one that's far more popular.

For Mac OS X, there's Windows.
For Firefire, there's USB.
For PostgreSQL, there's MySQL.
For Ruby|Python, there's Perl.
For Rails|Java, there's PHP.
And so on.

Re:Firewire still beat out USB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708869)

I've found the write speed of floppies is much, much better than cd's, holmes.

Re:Firewire still beat out USB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708367)

Did you look at the Lacie? Its USB times were not only the same as its FW400 times, but they were faster than the FW times of the other drives.

dom

Boring, I want a cheap external RAID :-) (1)

toolbar (125170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707477)

Does anyone know a cheap external RAID system that connects via USB 2, supports 4 or 6 HDDs and is optimized for desktop usage (ie. power-saving and silent)?

Re:Boring, I want a cheap external RAID :-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708625)

A quick google search would bring up the stuff you need. I use http://www.cooldrives.com/noname.html [cooldrives.com] It's relatively inexpensive and sufficient for most home, home business, small business use.

I've been trying to get my manager to get one as an intermediate to the high end RAID and Tape backup we have so that we can backup some less critical, but useful data without wasting $100 tapes on daily changes. Plus restoring terabytes from tapes takes much longer than restoring from disk. The extrenal disk can also be used immediately as a temporary share while the full blown high end RAID is rebuilt. While it won't perfom as well as a SCSI or fibre channel RAID, for ~$2000, as an intermediate terabyte storage unit this is not bad. It will reduce total downtime when the high end RAID is being rebuilt, or when recovering from tape.

Re:Boring, I want a cheap external RAID :-) (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708959)

This article:

http://dansdata.com/gz060.htm [dansdata.com]

points to this thing(Thecus N5200):

http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=6181&pa ge=2 [hexus.net]

but only you can decide if it is cheap and quiet. It does do usb of some kind, something it calls client mode, but I'm not sure that means it shows up as a disk.

What about power use and noise ?? (4, Insightful)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 7 years ago | (#18707997)


As usual, endless details on speed, and next to nothing about noise levels, power usage, and whether they have the ability to spin down when not in use.

why not enclosures? (0, Redundant)

TheCoop1984 (704458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708061)

I always go with external enclosures - far more flexible, you can put the hard disk inside a box without destroying it. You can get dual IDE/SATA enclosures as well. Most come with backup software as well. Built-in enclosures are simply an extra annoyance

FreeNAS (2, Insightful)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708751)

I have been looking into a nice repository for my house for a while. Even with all the cheap external drives, I still cannot beat the price of buying 4 500GB drives for $150 a piece at http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8 2E16822148136 [newegg.com] . Then plug them into an old box and install Freenas. As a geek it seems to be the way to go unless you need to take the storage with you. Even then I have a VPN but now we are getting more technical than ol mom and pop would enjoy.

External Mac drive issue (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708787)

I got one of these 500 GB hard drives (Cavalry is the brand, I think) and plugged it into my iMac. Now if I try to put my iMac to sleep, it will wake shortly thereafter with a warning about improperly disconnecting a hard drive and how I could lose data. Even unmounting the external drive before putting it to sleep doesn't help, it still gives that error. I've looked around a bit with no luck on figuring out how to stop it doing this. Any suggestions?

Speed Issues? (1)

tehcrazybob (850194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708795)

Ahh, gotta love the fine reporting from Computer World. For example, I'd really like to know why the read speed is higher at the inside of the platter, since the linear velocity of the outside of the platter is much higher and as a result the manufacturer would actually have to go to a certain amount of intentional effort to make the drive read slower there.

And, as other posters have noted, it's almost always better to buy a drive and an enclosure from a place like Newegg and combine them yourself. I understand that this isn't a great option for most people, but it's well within the abilities of everyone on Slashdot and of almost everyone likely to read that article.

Personal hard drives belong to two groups (0, Flamebait)

postmortem (906676) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708807)

WD Raptors and garbage.

Now, people that have garbage (running at 7200rpm) can mod me down, but nothing beats my 4 Raptors unless it has SCSI in its name.

one-touch backup button? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18708923)

WTF is that? A harddrive is a *block device*, period. I wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole any harddrive that can "do a backup" or "display the amount of free disk space" as these are *filesystem* concepts that a block device has no business messing around with.

Beware of connected storage devices... (5, Informative)

rmdyer (267137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18708969)

Before you commit to your shiny new USB/Firewire storage device, be sure you test it thoroughly. I've had several devices for whatever reason fail file checksum tests over multi-gigabytes of data. The most likely culprit is the USB interface and the drivers for them. Copy a very large multi-gigabyte tree of files back and fourth several times, checking against the master file checksums (MD5, etc). Also remember, proper checksum'ing requires that you eliminate any cache'ing that the OS may be doing, so unplug the device, then plug it back in, before running the checksum. Checksum'ing is especially important if you've formatted NTFS and the device is USB powered.

Also, even if you've verified the data is good on your storage device, moving it to another machine and connecting it up may leave you unhappy if the storage interface on the new machine isn't working properly.

You have been warned.

Track Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18709059)

Since read speeds are faster on the inside tracks, a full-disk test is more accurate to judge overall speed.

Wouldn't track speeds be faster on the outside of the tracks?
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