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Old 06-23-2007, 12:54 PM   #1
terrie
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Default External harddrives...

Somebody talk to me about their experiences with external harddrives please...

I think that I'd need to go with either Firewire or USB2--I know there are new SATA drives out but I don't understand how you connect them to a system...

I also know that people often buy a drive by itself and then put it in an enclosure but I don't know enough about enclosures to make an intelligent decision...

Also...how trustworthy (as in how long to the drives last) are they--the external drives, not necessarily the separate enclosures...

How do you use them--backup only?

Thanks!

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Old 06-23-2007, 01:04 PM   #2
Steve Rindsberg
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I've had pretty good luck with externals. I've got a couple, all USB2 or dual USB/Firewire.

By and large, you plug them in, they appear as a new disk drive, you use them (though on one system of mine, they don't appear until, of all the weird things, I hop out to a command prompt, do a DIR X: or whatever the drive letter should be, and THEN Windows does the Big Aha and sees it.) NBD.

Cant' say how trustworthy they are ... the drives inside are different from one to the next, and that probably has as much to do with it as anything, though if the case isn't ventilated or at least well vented, I'd be reluctant to put a 7200 or 10000 rpm drive in one. Self-immolation could be a factor.

I don't know enough about enclosures to make an intelligent decision either, so instead of picking up a "Mad Dog" brand (like Dave B, I don't make this stuff up) I got an Adaptec. Plug. Play.

Can't speak to the SATA thing. What do you plan to use it for though? Is the extra speed SATA presumably brings worth worrying about?

I use mine for backup, moving virtual computers around, extra storage on the net, I've got one big honker with a spare Mac OSX bootable install for development purposes, another little bitty portable one with all of my software installers, CD images and enough room for my main files.

Takes all kinds, hey?

   
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Old 06-23-2007, 02:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
steve: I've had pretty good luck with externals. I've got a couple, all USB2 or dual USB/Firewire.
I figured you might...


>>By and large, you plug them in, they appear as a new disk drive, you use them

Kind like what happens when you plug in say something like a card reader in that it picks up the next available driver letter? Does is show as "harddrive" or as a "removable drive"???


>>Cant' say how trustworthy they are ... the drives inside are different from one to the next, and that probably has as much to do with it as anything,

So I've read--apparently LaCie drives are to be avoided at all costs. Seagate has been recommended and I took a browse at newegg to see what they had and interestingly enough, I think I got the answer to the SATA hookup question...there were 2 Seagate externals that were SATA and hooked up via either USB2 or Firewire--my guess is that the SATA card is in the enclosure--but they were 2x the price of the same size drive without the SATA and I'm not sure what SATA buys you particularly when you are hooking to your system via USB2 or Firewire...

Apparently Best Buy (would never shop there as I loathe BB) has a 320gb 7200rpm drive for $99 and I found the same drive for the same price at newegg and one a bit larger (+500gb) for ummm...$134 which isn't too bad...


>>I don't know enough about enclosures to make an intelligent decision either, so instead of picking up a "Mad Dog" brand (like Dave B, I don't make this stuff up) I got an Adaptec. Plug. Play.

I think the only reason I'd go with buying an enclosure is if I had a drive lying around unused which I don't...I think buy and "all in one" is probably a bit more expensive but the combo is designed for each part and I think you'd have fewer problems...but as Jim used to say...wtfdik...'-}}


>>Can't speak to the SATA thing. What do you plan to use it for though? Is the extra speed SATA presumably brings worth worrying about?

I was thinking of using it for image storage--with another backup too like to DVD (once I get my dvd burner setup...finally got dvd burning software and now I just need to pick up a small pack of dvd's to test to see if both the drive and the software work). I don't know enough about what SATA offers to know if it's worth the extra bucks...for me, probably not...


>>another little bitty portable one with all of my software installers, CD images and enough room for my main files.

Is this for a pc or a mac?

Thanks!

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Old 06-23-2007, 05:44 PM   #4
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>>Kind like what happens when you plug in say something like a card reader in that it picks up the next available driver letter? Does is show as "harddrive" or as a "removable drive"???

Shows as a hard drive here. Same deal otherwise ... it gets the next available drive letter.

>>So I've read--apparently LaCie drives are to be avoided at all costs. Seagate has been recommended and I took a browse at newegg to see what they had and interestingly enough, I think I got the answer to the SATA hookup question...there were 2 Seagate externals that were SATA and hooked up via either USB2 or Firewire--my guess is that the SATA card is in the enclosure--but they were 2x the price of the same size drive without the SATA and I'm not sure what SATA buys you particularly when you are hooking to your system via USB2 or Firewire...

I was asking my wizard friend the same thing earlier today. He figured it was SATA, USB or Firewire, SATA being a third alternative for hooking it up. Otherwise it doesn't make much sense.

>>I think the only reason I'd go with buying an enclosure is if I had a drive lying around unused which I don't...I think buy and "all in one" is probably a bit more expensive but the combo is designed for each part and I think you'd have fewer problems...but as Jim used to say...wtfdik...'-}}

That's about it ... but it *is* one less thing to worry about if you don't feel comfortable with it.

>>I was thinking of using it for image storage--with another backup too like to DVD (once I get my dvd burner setup...finally got dvd burning software and now I just need to pick up a small pack of dvd's to test to see if both the drive and the software work).

Wadja get wadjaget huh wadjawadja huh wadja?

I just picked up a Pioneer CD/DVD burner to replace a friend's dead CD writer. Seems pretty nice, it's quiet and worked with Sonic or whatever it was she had installed for burning CDs. Came with a kind of lite version of Nero 7. Nice deal for 60 bucks, I thought.

>> I don't know enough about what SATA offers to know if it's worth the extra bucks...for me, probably not...

Doesn't seem that speed would be the big issue. I'd spend the extra buckage on size instead, is what I'd do. But that's just me ...

>>another little bitty portable one with all of my software installers, CD images and enough room for my main files.

>> Is this for a pc or a mac?

Yes.

That is, it being a USB, it'll work with either. Well. If you MacFormat it, it won't work on PC, and if you format it NTFS on the PC, it won't work on Mac.

   
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Old 06-23-2007, 05:56 PM   #5
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Default USB 2 Needed

I just installed a USB 2 PCI card in my older PC, which came with USB 1 ports.

For something as fast as a hard drive, be sure you are using a USB 2 port. I don't know how old your computer is, so maybe this is not a problem for you.
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Old 06-23-2007, 06:26 PM   #6
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External drives are very convenient for backups and extra storage. But just like any other hard disk, they can go bad. I had an external on my last computer that I used for backups. When I got my new computers, I simply hooked it up to the new computer and copied my files in from the backup. I also noticed that some of the photos looked corrupted. Turns out they were, along with many other files.

I was using Windows compression on the external drive. And I turned it on and off a lot. I don't know if this caused the problem.

I still use an external drive (a new one). But I don't backup files to an external and assume they are okay. It is no more safe than any other hard disk. So I also make intermittent backups to DVDs.
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Old 06-23-2007, 07:16 PM   #7
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There two aspects to SATA and hard drives:

one is the internal connection between the drive itself and the case it is in -- that can be SATA or IDE without having any direct effect on the user.

The other is between the "box" the drive is in and the PC. That can be USB1 or USB2, Firewire or what is called eSATA that is a new protocol (?) and for this eSATA then you need to have an eSATA connection on the PC.

Some "boxes" come with all 3 methods -- LaCie is one I believe. I've no experience of them.

Laptops with an eSATA connector on the case are beginning to trickle through -- I believe one of the newer Toshibas has it. So are desktops but for them you can of course add a plug in card that is more expensive to do with a laptop although I'd imagine that PCCard eSATA is here or coming.

Hope that helps.

   
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Old 06-23-2007, 07:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dthomsen8 View Post
I just installed a USB 2 PCI card in my older PC, which came with USB 1 ports.

For something as fast as a hard drive, be sure you are using a USB 2 port. I don't know how old your computer is, so maybe this is not a problem for you.
And Firewire is much faster again.

   
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Old 06-24-2007, 12:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rindsberg View Post
By and large, you plug them in, they appear as a new disk drive, you use them (though on one system of mine, they don't appear until, of all the weird things, I hop out to a command prompt, do a DIR X: or whatever the drive letter should be, and THEN Windows does the Big Aha and sees it.)
I have a couple of identical USB harddrives here, one assign S: and one assigned T: (mostly a mirror of each other for my image database). For some reason the T: never appears but I don't need the command line: I just type "T:\" in the address bar in Explorer and there it is (though always at the start).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rindsberg View Post
Cant' say how trustworthy they are ... the drives inside are different from one to the next, and that probably has as much to do with it as anything, though if the case isn't ventilated or at least well vented, I'd be reluctant to put a 7200 or 10000 rpm drive in one. Self-immolation could be a factor.
I have two enclosures that I put a drive in myself - essentially no-name enclosures with a Maxtor drive inside. No problem so far; the one that's used the most sits vertically on a desk to give it maximum air circulation around it. Still, a separate enclosure that you put your own drive in makes me somewhat nervous - I don't know how good the firmware is, and I probably won't buy any of those again. I also have two ready-made WD drives (big ones) - no peep from those either; that the T: doesn't appear is Windows' problem. I have that pair as a poor man's RAID (doing the mirroring "manually").

But trustworthyness depends on brand, model, version, and maybe Monday mornings at the factory... I've seen negative comments about Maxtor but mine have never failed me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rindsberg View Post
Can't speak to the SATA thing. What do you plan to use it for though? Is the extra speed SATA presumably brings worth worrying about?
If you're shifting (or just loading) large graphics files, then every bit of speed is very welcome. When I spec my next computer I'll make sure I have external SATA connections (apart from at least double RAID).

   
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Old 06-24-2007, 12:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by dthomsen8 View Post
I just installed a USB 2 PCI card in my older PC, which came with USB 1 ports.

For something as fast as a hard drive, be sure you are using a USB 2 port. I don't know how old your computer is, so maybe this is not a problem for you.
I just did the same thing with poor old Grace, and the difference in access speed of my external images is considerable. And those PCI cards are cheap - just a little fiddly work to put the card inside. (But Grace really is at the end of extensibility now - really needs to be replaced.)

   
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