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External Portable Hard Drives

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If you were buying an external hard drive, which brand would you buy?

There seem to be equal numbers of bad reviews of most brands available -what's the HPC view on reliability?

Am looking at 500GB portable drives.

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If you were buying an external hard drive, which brand would you buy?

There seem to be equal numbers of bad reviews of most brands available -what's the HPC view on reliability?

Am looking at 500GB portable drives.

I have always bought 350GB 2.5" lap top drives and a separate external firewire case (macally usually), very compatc, portable and never had a problem.

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If you were buying an external hard drive, which brand would you buy?

There seem to be equal numbers of bad reviews of most brands available -what's the HPC view on reliability?

Am looking at 500GB portable drives.

I've got a couple of LaCie ones. Had no problems with them on heavy useage for years now.

I'm sure there are people out there who have had problems will all makes, thats luck for you.

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use a couple of (now oldish) 250GB seagate drives for work

distinctly remember one of then falling from a top shelf, clipping the edge of a desk on the way down and hitting the floor with a thump :o

it still works fine :)

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I have used multiple makes - but not LaCie yet - and i found they ALL died after a year or so, apparently due to overheating in the badly cooled enclosures

I have a Seagate one now that is reliable - it has internal power management that switches the physical disk OFF after 10 minutes or whatever but still makes the logical disk visible to the PC - it has no apparent such overheating problems and I have found it utterly reliable

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Just remember to have the data in more than one location (the whole point of a backup). Don't leave any data on the drive that is important that isn't anywhere else. Same with confidential data, in case you lose it. They do fail, depends on how often you use it/how you treat it. I've found ones covered with vulcanised rubber tend to offer some shock protection. But it's got moving parts so one day (probably a few years after you buy it) it will fail.

Freecom ones have been reliable in my experience.

Has it got to be portable? If not, get a NAS box with two disks and setup with mirroring (raid 1) so if one drive fails it's no big deal as the other will have all the data and then you replace the duff one.

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I've got a couple of LaCie ones. Had no problems with them on heavy useage for years now.

I'm sure there are people out there who have had problems will all makes, thats luck for you.

Another vote for Lacie. I've bought about fifteen to twenty of d2 range over the years, most at work, but a couple for my own use. Some are very heavily used. None have failed yet.

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The flat I rent is modern and very well insulated, to the point that I rarely ever need the heating on. I leave my PC on all the time and that generates enough warmth for me. It's effectively free heating! (or free computer power). I work from home a lot of the time though.

My thinking is that a lot of failures of electronic equipment is thermal cycling - cooling and warming up again when power is switched on and off - and the tradeoff of the wear of having equipment permanently on is better than stressing it by repeatedly switching it.

Also, night time is a convenient time to run virus checking software, especially if you have large HDs. I just put the monitors on standby to save burning-in the screens.

I believe that USB3 HDs are coming on the market now. I'd get one of those - they are backwards compatible with USB2, 1.1 and 1.0.

Having physically separate duplicate HDs instead of RAID has an advantage - you can store one drive at a different location, though you will have to regularly fetch it in order to make updated backups. Extra HD, £60; Family photos: Priceless.

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Thanks for all the replies. Just bought a LaCie Rikiki.

Now to do the back-up!

I'm too late but I always buy Western Digital. I'm sure the one you bought will be fine.

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The issue is not so much the brand on the outside of the case, but the actual brand of HDD inside it.

An external hard drive is basically a normal SATA 2.5" or 3.5" HDD, placed inside a case that contains an interface board that turns the SATA connection into a USB one, plus (in the case of 3.5" drives and 2.5" ones that can't be powered through USB) a power supply. You can buy the cases separately, and all of my portable drives are ones that I originally acquired bare/internal, then removed to upgrade and from then on used the surplus drive as a portable in a case such as this one.

It's the brand of drive inside the case that you need to watch out for: but of course if you buy a drive/case combination you have to take pot luck. In my experience Western Digital and Maxtor are the ones to go for, but avoid Seagate like the plague. Since I owned my first PC in 1994, I've had three HDDs fail (as in, fail unprovoked, as distinct from being dropped or something) and they were all Seagates.

The one thing I'd say about portable HDDs (whether self-assembled or bought as a package) is that they are VERY susceptible to mechanical shock. Drop one - even if only from a couple of feet - and you've had it, as I've discovered the hard way in the past. I always carry mine around in bubble wrap. That having been said, the (Maxtor) HDD in a previous laptop once fell about 6-7 feet after the overhead luggage bin of the DC-10 it was travelling in burst open during turbulence and it fell to the aisle. I was utterly astonished when I got to my destination and found that the laptop and the drive still worked! The bag in which it was travelling did its job well that day.

My thinking is that a lot of failures of electronic equipment is thermal cycling - cooling and warming up again when power is switched on and off - and the tradeoff of the wear of having equipment permanently on is better than stressing it by repeatedly switching it.

My father is an advocate of this theory, too. He has a 1991 Dell 386 PC that has been left powered up more or less ever since, and it's still going strong. In fact, I think the only time it's been powered down was when I replaced the floppy drive in it for him, circa 2003. However, I can't help but wonder if the cost of the electricity used in keeping it permanently running for two decades would have bought him at least one upgrade in that time.

Having physically separate duplicate HDs instead of RAID has an advantage - you can store one drive at a different location, though you will have to regularly fetch it in order to make updated backups. Extra HD, £60; Family photos: Priceless.

Agreed completely. My documents and files I really don't want to lose occupy about 300gb in total. They are backed up weekly to a separate internal HDD in my home PC, and on alternate weeks to an external drive, which then goes to work the following day and sits in my office drawer for the next fortnight. The drive already sitting there then comes home for the next backup. So the absolute worst case scenario is that I'd lose thirteen days' worth of updates, and of course really important stuff gets backed up to a flash drive or my online storage space at work as it's being worked on.

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It's the brand of drive inside the case that you need to watch out for: but of course if you buy a drive/case combination you have to take pot luck. In my experience Western Digital and Maxtor are the ones to go for, but avoid Seagate like the plague. Since I owned my first PC in 1994, I've had three HDDs fail (as in, fail unprovoked, as distinct from being dropped or something) and they were all Seagates.

Maxtor is now owned by Seagate. The drives I've had problems with have always been Hitachi models. I've never had problems with Western Digital, Maxtor when they were still around, or Seagate.

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hehe, we all know our hard drives don't we? (apart from the OP of course) :lol:

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  • 276 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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