Criteria for Selecting a new External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'hardware' started by Escalader, Oct 10, 2009.

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  1. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    Hello!

    Don't think I've ever posted in the hardware forum here!

    What are the criteria users should use to select an external drive?

    What about USB's. My old USB sticks seem slow compared with the Maxtor. They also seem to "heat" up toooo much.

    Anyway, I have an old 120GG existing Maxtor One Touch External drive that I got from Dell when this PC was new. It has yet to fail me.

    Anyway, it now is "full" as I keep my backup images on it for my whole PC and for individual partitions. So when I add an image I have to delete an existing image. I want need capacity but not at the cost of reliability or speed. As well, I want maybe 3 of these so I can move one off site from time to time. So physical dimensions I want minimized. As well I need to be sure any new PC I get will be able to use the new external drives.

    Are there any current sites I can visit that compare these devices?

    Any information or advice you guys can offer is appreciated.:D
     
  2. YeOldeStonecat

    YeOldeStonecat Registered Member

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    I use a lot of the Western Digital Passport drives for my clients, seem very reliable.
     
  3. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

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    Escalader, perhaps this ConsumerSearch External Hard Drives : Full Report and its many links will help you on your drive search.

    To echo YeOldeStonecat's praise of Western Digital, I own several WD My Book sizes (250 & 500 GBs) and no issues whatsoever.
     
  4. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Escalader, don't laugh, but one of my main criteria is that it have an independent on off switch. I just don't like the ones that come on with the system.

    Pete
     
  5. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    Pete:

    No not laughing at all. My existing Maxtor has that off switch and I use it after running safely remove the hardware.
     
  6. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. I know what you mean book size, we never quite get to "use" the on the box GB's as advertised.
     
  7. rice4lunch

    rice4lunch Registered Member

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    Depends on the need...

    Portable: I use the WD element. Its low power, no extra ac adapter needed. (always back this up!!)

    Reliable: For this, I use an USB SATA HDD Dock + Regular low rpm HDD. I just don't trust the current external hdds on the market, you never know what cheap drives are inside the enclosure.
     
  8. NoIos

    NoIos Registered Member

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    Well I have mainly one. I always buy external drives from those vendors that construct the hard drives themselves. Mainly WD.
     
  9. estra

    estra Registered Member

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    Ability to access SMART readings is important, in my opinion.

    I have bought 1TB external drive from Maxtor some time ago and was surprised that I could see SMART data on it.

    None of my previous external drives either from WD or Maxtor have provided SMART data, so I am unsure if this is an increasingly common latest trend or not.
     
  10. NoIos

    NoIos Registered Member

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    For me WD is the top brand if you want reliability. But for sure bad pieces of hardware there will always be. I usually buy Samsung and Hitachi internal HDDs for the OS and WD internal drives for storage. External drives is a one way to WD. I have completely stopped buying Seagate after the firmware issue months ago. I always avoid Lacie, Iomega, Vermatim and similar for external storage. They usually place in their boxes what Seagate, WD and Samsung does not want to sell as internal HDDs. Maybe you won't believe it but last spring I've seen many seagate drives with the famous bad firmware in the external boxes of the various vendors, like Iomega.
     
  11. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    Hello Thread!

    These responses to my question are great! I wasn't sure what to expect! :thumb:

    FWIW, I'm going to post (later) all the criteria that are identified in this thread as a sort of check list I (we/you) can use.

    One question though, what is SMART data? :oops:
     
  12. NoIos

    NoIos Registered Member

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    Last edited: Oct 13, 2009
  13. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    Hello:

    A few questions:

    Why use WD for storage and Samsung and Hitachi for the OS?

    What was the bad firmware issue?

    Do you buy PC's as is, or do you build your own ? Dell is selling Laptops for windows 7 with Iomega?

    Thanks
     
  14. NoIos

    NoIos Registered Member

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    I found Samsung and Hitachi HDDs a bit faster. This is the only reason. I have noticed that for the same rpm I get better speeds with Samsung and Hitachi's drives. This was noticed by me for the latest 500GB and 1TB drives. I'm talking about models under 100 euro. So usually I install on these brands the operating systems. Please note that this is just my experience with some models.

    About the seagate issues ( it was months ago ) ...just use google and search for: seagate bad firmware. I don't want to include here links to tech sites. Current xxxxxxxxxx.12 series are great drives but I have lost my faith.

    For the last ten years I build my PCs.

    Now your question about Dell + Iomega. If you are talking about internal HDD then it's impossible to find in a Dell pc an Iomega drive since they don't produce ones. Iomega only designs enclosures ( external usb/firewire/ethernet boxes ) for HDDs. They usually buy internal HDDs from brands like Seagate, Samsung, Wd and put them in their boxes. So if you have seen something Dell + Iomega, that would be for sure an external HDD. That external Iomega box could contain any brand of HDD.
     
  15. Escalader

    Escalader Registered Member

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    I understand about the links, I will google!

    Since I don't build a new Dell for example I will "customize" one. Most here I suspect wouldn't be able to select an internal drive vendor for a Dell or HP or Vendor X,

    Yes, the Dell Iomega was an external drive, will need to revisit to see if there are other choices.

    There is no rush.
     
  16. tipstir

    tipstir Registered Member

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    You can buy USB external HDD case and stick your own HDD into it.
    Thus you need to run your own power supply which comes with this
    case. Very easy to install you got your power pin and interface pin.

    Or you can get:
    WD Passports up 250 have been stable it's the 320 that had issues
    Then there are the larger ones from WD and Seagate 500GB and up

    I own the external cases and WD Passports (these are good with laptops) if you're on the road traveling.
     
  17. axial

    axial Registered Member

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    One of the things that drives me nuts about the two Seagate externals I've had is that if they're left powered on and eventually they spin down, then at some point something in Windows XP SP2 "re-checks the bus" to poll for current hardware and the Seagates dutifully spin up again, and while this 5-10 second spin-up is happening my system just hangs, absolutely nothing happens. No matter if I'm typing or doing something in an app or whatever, just hang. Anybody else?

    I've found that having Acrobat Pro (7/8/9) open is one of the culprits in causing this query-the-bus-hang, but there are others as yet unidentified. I've tried using both e-sata and firewire connections and if I recall correctly it happens with both.

    The hang doesn't seem to happen with an older external Maxtor OneTouch e-sata connected drive. And I've had the issue when using the same Seagate drives on different systems, so I think it's something intrinsic to Seagate.

    I've tried googling for some troubleshooting tips but it's a difficult symptom to describe concisely enough to get applicable hits, so I've resigned to just keeping the drives off until needed.
     
  18. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

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    I have three Bytecc ME-835 external USB enclosures and I like them because;
    -I think they look great.
    -They have a built-in power supply, so no power brick.
    -They have two fans, one 5" for the HDD and a smaller fan for the ps and run cool.
    -The fans are pretty quiet, audible, but certainly not objectionable.
    -SATA or IDE compatible.
    -Front Panel power, fan, and HDD activity LEDs.
    -They allow for my choice of HDD brand and capacity (I've used 80gb to 750
    gb SATA drives. 3.5" format only.
    -No reliability issues after more than two years of use.

    The most recent one purchased also has a firewire output, but my computer doesn't have that capability.

    With these enclosures and one of another brand, I was experiencing occasional system lock-up from time to time. I run XP SP-2 Home and Pro.
    The problem went away after purchasing and installing a Syba USB expansion PCI card.

    Although USB 2.0 is the connection meathod, I do not experience any problem playing movies; no lockups or freezing that I've witnessed.

    As far as I know still available at Newegg and Directron for less than $30 US.
    Here is the Newegg link.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817145044

    Good luck with your search.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2009
  19. TechOutsider

    TechOutsider Registered Member

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    I have a 160 GB WD external drive. It has so far lasted for almost 5 years. I dropped it once from a average height table, and it still works fine. I'm not so sure about speed though. It is reliable though.
     
  20. Ed_H

    Ed_H Registered Member

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    I have 2 Maxtors (now part of Seagate) and a Seagate working fine for 3 + years. I have found these to be quite a bit faster than the WD external disk I tried recently. Also, they have a 5 year warranty.
     
  21. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I have been debating this situation for some time now. I personally want some more storage for my family and myself. I could go a number of routes.

    NAS - or some variant. You may not be leaning this way. NAS (Network Attached Storage) can be convenient because everyone can use it, obviously. You can buy small NAS units that either come with a drive or you put drives into. Reading lots of reviews, it seems they all (the affordable ones) have an issue of some kind. Primary being (IMO) the lack of real rights/groups. Many of these devices have USB ports so that after you fill up the hdd slots, you can add external USB hdds or flash drives, for expandability. More network storage basically.

    USB Drive - these come also in many flavors, from the WD Book series types (all HDD makers have them it seems) to 'other' brands sporting this feature or that. Some have Raid, some don't. Some are even simply a docking bay, so that you place your hdd into a slot, and it is recongnized by the OS as an external drive. Then you remove it, etc etc.

    1394/eSATA - same thing, different port. eSATA is most definately the fastest/closest thing to having the speeds of your internal drive. Many computers don't have a dedicated eSATA port. You can get an external bracket, and hook a drive up this way, but it is more like having an internal drive that is not internal.

    Criteria? There is so much to consider. For me there are two things I have been throwing around. First is which technology to use? NAS or External USB/1394/eSATA. One is limited to my machine only, one more wide open. But, can the speeds of a gigibit NIC be that bad? It depends on the controller.

    After deciding on a technology, I would look at drive performance. You can choose a WD Veloci-raptor, with great speed, or some lowly 500gb drive from brand X. Arial density can be a player in your choise. Choosing a disc with say 5 platters instead of 4 should increase the seek times. I don't know as of late, but a year or two ago MPR (perpendicular recording) was showing a great boost in speed, one I personally can see and 'feel'. I don't know if they are all that way now or not. NCQ, the verdict is still out on that for a desktop. I have used it with AHCI, and I don't really note a difference personally. Warranty is an issue for some, but I believe most vendors went back to a 3 year or more warranty as opposed to the 1 year warranty they tried awhile back. Average seek times if listed can be of use to determine which drive.

    I have used Hitachi,Toshiba,WD,Maxtor,Quantum,Samsung,IBM,Seagate, and some other really old ones. Whether any of these were branded I don't know. My experience has been that if you get a good drive, you get a good drive, no matter the vendor. I have had new maxtors that outlived WD, and new Samsungs that outlived Maxtors, and all combinations there-of. Samsungs typically are cooler and quieter, but WD in the last few years have been very good to me as well.

    If you decide on an external device, be sure to check out reviews and opinions. You cannot take it all as 'gospel', but you should be able to start to see a 'pattern' from mulitple data sources.

    If you decide to go NAS, consider that you may want a full blown computer with a real OS to manage it. For example, I have been looking at some small ATOM cpu based computers, what they call 'book shelf' computers. These have usually 1.5-2ghz cpus, and many have gigabit network cards. They consume little energy comparatively. But the advantage is you have a full blown OS with which to really manage your shares. The NAS devices perhaps consume less power and appear more 'user friendly'. It will depend on what you wish to do I suppose. Even taking a small computer you can run FreeNAS on it, from a flash drive.

    So many options on external drives. I myself will probably choose to get a bare drive that is highly rated from multiple data sources, and then decide what to stick it in.

    Probably too much info here, but it is fresh on my mind because I have been studying this stuff myself.

    Good luck.

    Sul.
     
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