External Hard Drives

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Contents

Introduction

After Taking Part in Numerous Threads and Purchasing Numerous Drives after Research, I have come to a couple of suggestions and a massive "guide." This guide has mainly been complied by thegoldenmackid. If you have any questions about this guide PM me, if you have questions pertaining to a specific drive – please don't PM me - use mroogle or Google. I encourage everyone to participate, but please keep with the general theme of the guide.

The Basics

There are three main things that will affect the speed - all three are vitally important.

Connection Type

This is the one most people will know about, if they know one. Things like Firewire 800, Firewire 400, USB 2.0, eSata, etc. It comes to how your drive connects to the computer, in general (fastest to slowest) eSata, Firewire 800, Firewire 400, USB 2.0. Firewire is preferable because it is not only faster then USB, but it transfers at a constant speed, whereas USB is variable. eSata is the fastest but it requires a port that is not available without an adaptor, and those adaptors are hit and miss in terms of quality. Chances are most users will do fine with Firewire 800 and have no need for eSata.

Hard Drive Speed

For some reason people seem to forget that if you have 4200 RPM Drive inside your enclosure, it's going to be slow. This depends on the physical drives inside your enclosure. Speed from fastest to slowest: SSD, 7200 RPM, 5400 RPM, 4200 RPM. The higher the revolutions per minute, the faster, unless there are no revolutions at all ;).

Cache

The one people forget. The cache is just like the RAM in your computer. It's the place where information is stored temporarily. It is important that you look at this especially if you are going to try to play files from your drive. Even if you are using it is a back-up you don't want a 4MB Cache. With more cache opening larger files will be faster, and accessing the same (small) file consecutively will be faster. The most cache for most stock drives is 64MB.

Brands

Apple

Apple's Time Capsule is subject to much debate about its longevity. This is currently a "stub" and will be updated with more information soon.

Generation I

Forum user Perrumpo notes owning one for about a year before selling it to upgrade without any problems.

Generation II

Forum user Perrumpo recommends the dual-band version.

Buffalo

DriveStation Combo4 1TB Recommended by techfreak85. Amazon Link

DriveStation™ HD-CXU2 with Full Disk Encryption 1TB Recommended by bsblvnv

Drobo

Drobo is one of the more popular bulk storage options. Drobo comes in a couple of configurations that allow users to place their own drives inside the unit. In general, users that are using Drobo are looking for 2 TB or more of storage. Because of the nature of the configuration options, each Drobo is different, there is however a mixed debate about the product in general, much of that debate can be found in this thread. A Drobo v. alternative discussion was had here. In general, the Drobo has had positive reviews, but the discussion of the cases of failures combined with the price of the unit sways a lot of users to alternatives. User pprior attempted to switch to a LaCie alternative, but ultimately went back to the Drobo finding that the LaCie produced more noise. The one consistent thought seems to be that DRI (Data Robotics Inc., the maker of Drobo) replaces the drives quick and their customer service is good.

Forum Users Expressing General Support

gatepc, Cynicalone, frunty (unit failed, was replaced quickly and now is happy), whynot83706, DRI. geoffreak, UbuntuFu, pastrychef, Rich1963 & Zyniker

Forum Users Not So Happy

brand, blodwyn, pprior

EZQuest

Forum user LizKat has owned a variety of Monsoons

Freecom

Forum user Kebabselector owns a few Freecom devices and is happy with the performance, even more so after a DIY upgrade.

DataTank 800GB - RAID(0/1/JBOD)/FW400/FW800/USB2

The DataTank comes in a number of differing capacities, starting with the oldest model, 400gb and up to 2tb. The ones that Kebabselector has used are the 800gb versions. The Datatank series of harddrives have been around for a few years now, designed and manufactured by the German company Freecom. The drive unit is an aluminium enclosure containing 2x 3.5inch Sata disks. The device has ports for Firewire 400(1) and 800(2) and USB. Later models of the drive include network ports and wireless (possibly eSata). The Datatank has the option of using Raid 0 and 1 (Mirror, Volume spanning) or JBOD (2 drives). Obviously with mirroring you loose half the capacity, so in the case of the 800gb datatank it becomes a 400gb mirrored device. The software for the drives is easy to use, in fact for most (unless you use the backup software) you do not need to use it once you have configured the drives.

These days 400gb isn't such a great capacity and after struggling to find a solution I decided on the DIY route. Freecom confirmed to me that the Datatank (400-500-800-1000) would suppose drives with a 1TB capacity, so after sourcing some drives (Samsung Eco drives - 5400rpm) I now have 4TB of storage (2 Datatanks with 2tb each). Also worth noting that as the Eco drives run slower it's quieter than before - not that the original was loud.

Update: Looking at the Freecom site it looks as if the DataTank has been discontinued.

Other

It's worth noting the original capacity Datatanks listed above are out of production, however I do see them pop up on Ebay quite often and the information above may be of interest to those looking to get a good quality external Raid HDD on a budget (with a view to updating). Also worth noting that I'm based in the UK as Freecom drives might not be that well known in the US.

G-Tech

G Drive-Q 1 TB

Forum user Perrumpo notes a "horrible" experience with this drive. She notes buying the drive for reliability and it never working consistently. She notes that after hardly using it, constant trouble with it mounting. She notes that the repair was ineffective at solving the widespread problem regarding a part. She also notes problems with the service, nothing that the customer has to pay for shipping to send it in for repair. Perhaps more concerning, she notes that the G-Tech customer service failed at sending her a response to her e-mails regarding the faulty repair. Ultimately her experience left her stating, "I will never be able to trust this drive even if they do repair it again." Amazon Link

G Drive-Quad 500 GB

Forum user RebornKillah recommends it, but it's currently out of production

G Drive Mini Triple 500 GB

Forum user Bill Gates recommends it. Amazon Link

G Drive Mini 100GB

Forum user Decrepit notes using it as a boot drive for a Mac Mini for over three years without any problem.

G-Raid

The G-Raid is G-Tech's standard drive. There have been three generations offering a variety of sizes, connections and speeds. Recommended by puckhead193, who owns two drives and claims to never have a problem, except a light that they find annoying.

Other

Digital Skunk notes the great warranty; jaysmith, mBox & tcphoto recommend G-Tech.

Hitachi

There are only a few companies that make external hard drives that make their own drives, Hitachi is one of them. Of other interest to users is that Hitachi recently acquired G-Tech, a high-end drive manufacturer.

SimpleTech Signature Mini

Recommended by Trag & bigdaddyp. Amazon Link

SimpleTech 2TB SimpleDrive Pro Duo

Recommended by J&JPolangin. Amazon Link

Other

Forum user BlizzardBomb recommends the Go. Forum userThedesolateone also recommends Hitachi.

Iomega

eGo 500GB Portable Mac

Recommended by Justin Lee & quantum003. Amazon Link

A lot of people are reporting that the casing on this drive is peeling off with heat. Whilst I haven't experienced this, I can no longer recommend this drive unreservedly. Justin Lee

UltraMax 34495 Hard Drive 1.5 TB

Features the four standard connections. Recommended by mc3s. Amazon Link

UltraMax Pro 2 TB

Features the four standard connections in 2TB size. Forum user thegoldenmackid notes the following problems: the cache is limited to 8mb, therefore the speed is not great; the drive was poorly constructed; after three months the drive failed. Amazon Link

ioSafe

Tterb recommends.

LaCie

There is an entire thread dedicated to LaCie, I have summed up support from users below, but simply a tally. The thread lists specific complaints and reading it would be highly beneficial if you are interested in purchasing a LaCie drive.

2Big Triple

Recommended by Digital Skunk & KeriJane. Out of production.

BigDiskExtreme

Forum user Bezbozny purchased the BigDiskExtreme II Triple Interface 640 GB. Bezbozny notes that after eight months of owning the drives issues arose with the mounting of the drive which was ultimately traced back to a faulty power adaptor. Bezbozny notes that because of the lack of LaCie service in Greece, the unit had to be shipped at Bezbozny's expense to Germany for repair. Bezbozny notes that paying for shipping and the delay that took place was not great, but the experience with LaCie was good overall.

Forum user VanMac also recommends the BigDiskExtreme. Out of production.

d2 Quadra 1 TB eSATA/FireWire800/FireWire400/USB 2.0

A standard 1 TB drive featuring the four most common connections. Forum user Cinematographer agrees with forum user FearlessFreep analysis that the drive is heavy and bulky enclosure making it difficult for portability, but neither have experienced failures. Also recommended by jrotunda85 & Kronie. Amazon Link

d2 Quadra 500 GB eSATA/FireWire800/FireWire400/USB 2.0

Recommended by forum user HBOC. Amazon Link

Desktop External Hard Drive, Design by Neil Poulton

A drive that normally comes in USB-only and is not bus-powered is quite common and popular. Recommended by RedTomato, gatepc & eVolcre, Cousin Dirk {although eVolcre owns the one with eSata and Firewire 400}. Amazon Link

F.A. Porsche

Recommended by Gymnut. Out of production.

Rugged Hard Disk

LaCie's Rugged Hard Disks features a rubber protected aluminum body that handles the tough situations. There are numerous versions and sizes and connection speeds. The drives are commonly used at Apple Genius Bars around the U.S. Recommended by iGary & TTLaRue. Amazon Link

Other

Forum Users Expressing General Support

cmcbridejr, dpaanlka, LethalWolfe, mpsrig, UltraNeo*, iPhoneNYC, chocolate632, Hellhammer, HBOC, Cinematographer (six-seven drives without failure), romanaz & macfem (4 TB drive).

Forum Users Not So Happy

surfmadison (not a big fan), accacc57, dave12345 (Little Disk), jaysmith, Jerkfish, auero, mperkins37, dfs, harddriveowner, jessica, eRondeau & sishaw. Forum user cluthz has mixed reactions regarding the (d2 and Neil Poulton).

Maxtor

Maxtor One Touch II 320GB

Forum user Perrumpo had a Maxtor One Touch II 320GB drive for at least 3 years before it died in a surge. She notes that she neverr had a problem with it. Although they no longer produce this particular model, she still considers it a positive Maxtor experience.

Other

adamvk purchased a OneTouch 4 1TB (not sure what version)

Other World Computing (OWC)

Mercury Elite-AL Pro 1TB

Recommended by GGJstudios. Amazon Link

Mercury Elite Pro Classic™ Portable Solutions

Recommended by jbn. Link

On-The-Go 200GB

Recommended by GGJstudios. Amazon Link

Other

roland.g recommends OWC noting purchasing: two 2TB cases, one quad interface and one USB only.

Rocstor

Forum user DarwinOSX notes purchasing a Rocstor drive and having no issues.

PodPacker purchased about 50 of these drives for his/her business without a failure on a single drive. Most drives have been in operation for at least 2 years. What is ideal about the Rocstor desktop drives is that they run quietly and have no external power brick. Their mini drives are just as silent and don't require external power

Seagate

Seagate makes a variety of external hard drives, some branded for the Mac. Seagates drives are often preferred because they make their own hard disks and the enclosures.

FreeAgent Desk 1 TB USB Mac

Recommended by MacMini2009, rick3000, cluthz & soo. Amazon Link

FreeAgent Desk 1.5 TB Mac

Recommended by slieu92, Freewayjim & ZebOfMac. Amazon Link

FreeAgent Desk 1.5 TB

Recommended by steeler. Amazon Link

FreeAgent Pro 750 GB

Forum User PoptheKing notes that the drive broke shortly after owning it and the Seagate's customer service was ineffective at acknowledging the drive as faulty. Amazon Link

Other

Forum user suekitch recommends Seagate because of its warranty;

Forum user sishaw uses Seagate as an alternative to LaCie and forum user calderone recommends Seagate as an alternative to Western Digital.

Forum user Acid303 does not recommend the (new) Seagate FreeAgent Desk series.

Forum user macfem refuses to buy Seagate because of failures.

Toshiba

Forum user amytude doesn't recommend Toshiba's portable drives nothing the drive failed after six months.

Western Digital

My Book Studio Edition 1 TB

Possibly the most common powered drive amongst MacRumor's users. Coming from Western Digital, one of the beloved brands, and in a standard 1TB size the My Book Studio features four connection types (USB 2.0/FireWire 400/800/eSATA) in an aluminum case that matches most of the Mac line) Users that recommend: MacMini2009, xpress1, patrickdunn, iphonematt, lighthouse_man, MacDawg & Perrumpo. Amazon Link

My Book Studio Edition 2 TB

Same as the above drive, just double the capacity. Recommended by pprior & dernhelm. Amazon Link

My Book Studio Edition 2 TB (2010 Version)

Forum user MacDawg (who has religiously recommended Western Digital), notes that the newest version of the drive comes with SmartWare that causes the drive to unmount. While this is a software issue and should be fixed by a firmware update, MacDawg currently does not recommend the drive. Forum user Kebabselector also notes the same issue, while forum user onerob had success with the firmware updates.

My Book Home Edition 500 GB

Forum user slieu92 notes having problems with it shutting down, sleeping and mounting and does not recommend the drive. Forum user senseless notes having similar problems with the hard drive. Amazon Link

Passport Series

The Passport Series are Western Digital's line of portable usb-powered hard drives. They are some of the most popular bus-powered drives on the market and come in a variety of colors and sizes. Recommended by: terp2007, odinsride, Samuriajackon, cluthz, matthewscott661, MikhailT & thegoldenmackid. Amazon Link

Elements SE 1TB Portable Series

The WD Elements SE Portable Series is almost identical to the Passport Series except for one major difference: No SmartWare/Crapware. It is tiny, USB-powered, and ultra-portable. It is also one of the best bang for buck bus-powered 1TB portable drives on the market at $119.99, costing roughly half as much as an equivalent 1TB OWC On-The-Go Pro bus-powered USB 2.0 portable drive which is $217.99.[1] Recommended by: EzhnoWolf. Amazon Link

Other

Positive

Forum user Thiol notes purchasing an incredible seven Western Digital MyBook Studio drives all working flawlessly.

Forum user Acid303 also a positive experience with a non-Studio Edition Western Digital drive.

Forum user freepeacesweet recommends Western Digital owning several drives over the years and appreciative of numerous features.

Forum user munkees notes a failure with one of the drives purchased, but a positive experience overall.

Forum user Decrepit notes owning Western Digital drives for a long time.

Forum users rikdiddy, RebornKillah, liberalart, MrSEC, harddriveowner, bayron, Jerkfish, Freewayjim & js81 also recommend Western Digital.

Forum user spinnerlys has twelve Western Digital My Studio 1TB HDDs at work and two of them at home and highly recommends them, as they even survive falling down /seven times this far) while powered off.

Negative

Forum user chrono1081 does not recommend Western Digital.

Forum user DarwinOSX notes having three different Western Digital My Book Studio drives fail.

Forum user macfem refuses to buy Western Digital due to failures and now buys LaCie.

Forum user romanaz & calderone also have had negative experiences and do not recommend Western Digital.

Verbatim

500GB USB Desktop Hard Drive

Forum user lewis82 bought one of these drives and so far didn't have any problems with it. It might not be the fastest drive around, as the connection is only USB 2.0, but it is more than enough for Time Machine backups. The 7-year warranty (originally 3 years, now extended to 7) is also nice. Model also available in 1TB and 2TB capacities.

Build Your Own

Forum users uberamd, kufford, SaSaSushi, nanofrog, Ti_Poussin, bigdaddyp; Cave Man, chkdg8, kdp.slider, ChrisA, mahen, dmmcintyre3, jalyst & Bentgt77. all recommend building your own drive. Roy43 recommends the KINGWIN EZD-2535 dock and a Western Digital drive. There are numerous solutions and a simple search of the forums will result in some recommendations.

Other Threads

There are numerous threads and new ones constantly appearing regarding external hard drives, ones that are deemed relevant will be added to this list.

1 TB Discussion

For the most common user 1TB is probably a good starting point. Thread One Thread Two Thread Three Thread about 1TB USB

LaCie Threads

Thread One Thread Two

Other Resources

Thread One MRoogle