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#1 2013-05-09 14:09:29

Menschenkind
#! CrunchBanger
Registered: 2011-08-20
Posts: 203

Your opinion on external HDDs?

Hello, crunchies.

So far, I've always made backups by manually copying files from internal HDD to 16 GB USB-Stick to internal HDD on another machine and the whole way back. I'm not very pleased by this method and recently considered buying an external drive. But after a little research, there seems to be a lot of bad stuff in this area – low quality plugs, short lifespan, high erosion and the like. Consensus seems, they aren't very reliable after all. What are your opinions about and experiences with external hard drives? Have you got any recommandations? I don't need lots of space. No more than 1 TB and even 500 GB would be enough. I'd prefer a realiable piece that won't die within, say, 5 years, if that's realistic.

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#2 2013-05-09 14:26:10

saneks
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2009-10-01
Posts: 1,015

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

my brother has some more insight to hardware stuff than I have, and he always recommends Western Digital or Seagate harddrives. I have a 2,5" 500mb external Seagate and it works fine since two years. I use it for backups mostly.

one thing I learned: keep the usb-cable short. I lost my origial cable and used a longer one, resulted in errors or the drive logging out and back in.. short cable=no problems

if you have really important stuff to back up: Better buy two drives and keep them synched each month or so and have them in different houses - just better in case of fire, flood or someone breaking into your house.. better have one backup somewhere else..

Last edited by saneks (2013-05-11 23:38:02)


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#3 2013-05-09 14:46:44

cchhrriiss121212
#! Junkie
Registered: 2010-03-26
Posts: 357

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

I had a 500MB Seagate external drive, lasted about 2 years before mechanical failure.

I'd agree with saneks, get a pair of decent internal drives and keep an eye on them.

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#4 2013-05-09 14:57:24

mbemboom
#! CrunchBanger
Registered: 2013-03-30
Posts: 104

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

I have heard lots of bad things about Western Digital.  That being said I have a Western Digital "My Book" 250 GB external drive that we've had for 7 or 8 years for backups and it is still working great.  We also have a Seagate 500 GB that I use to back up the Western Digital.  That way if one of them fails I haven't lost everything.


"Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. "  - The Dude

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#5 2013-05-09 15:19:15

DebianJoe
#! Code Whisperer
From: The Bleeding Edge
Registered: 2013-03-13
Posts: 1,207
Website

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

I've got a WD 500 GB and a Seagate 1TB....and the Seagate is my personal bet on quality.  The WD (over about 3 years of use) has gotten to where I'm hard pressed to get the usb to even connect with it.  If I hold it "just right" and don't move it, it still works.  I don't recommend having to have good feng shui to make backups, though.

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#6 2013-05-09 15:37:19

pvsage
Internal Affairs
From: North Carolina
Registered: 2009-10-18
Posts: 13,943

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

I have a WD Passport (USB-powered, about the size of an iPod) and a WD MyBook (wallwart-powered, about the size of a hardcover novel).  Both are reliable, but while the Passport spins up fairly quickly, the MyBook takes about 6 seconds to spin up, so you really notice when the MyBook has spun down and parked.

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#7 2013-05-09 15:54:09

Menschenkind
#! CrunchBanger
Registered: 2011-08-20
Posts: 203

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

cchhrriiss121212 wrote:

I'd agree with saneks, get a pair of decent internal drives and keep an eye on them.

Internal drives as in: screw them in, fill them up, remove them again or buy internal drives and external drive cases?
The latter, so I read, would mean more reliable drives, but a lot of criticism sounded like they often seem to have low quality plugs/connectors. The former isn't really an option, since my main machine with all the really important (work-related) data is a notebook and I don't feel very secure about opening it.

Thanks for all the answers, so far. Your experiences seem to vary too, hm? Sounds much like the reviews and comments I've read.

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#8 2013-05-09 16:18:25

saneks
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2009-10-01
Posts: 1,015

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

I did not say " get a pair of decent internal drives" .. I said "better buy two drives".. I don't know if internal+case or external ones are more reliable. but I'd feel safer to have double backups in different places on whatever hardware just in case of technical failure, loss or whatever.

Some time ago I had a drivecheck running on a 250 gb internal drive. it said the drive had a total running time of 3 years (that's not its age, but time it was actually up and running) - was still working ok

Last edited by saneks (2013-05-09 16:19:10)


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#9 2013-05-09 17:08:26

fatmac
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2012-11-14
Posts: 1,948

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

USB drives are just external cases with a  hard drive in it & some electrics.

As you back up to another machine, I would just use a (CAT5) cable & network them, you have a choice of programs to use, but probably rsync would suit.


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#10 2013-05-10 03:01:46

DapperMe17
#! CrunchBanger
From: Todd's Gang
Registered: 2012-10-19
Posts: 221

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

Menschenkind,

Remember that you will generally "get-what-you-pay-for".

Try to stick with good brands, if you can afford to do so.

A web search for comparisons is a really good start.

glasses

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#11 2013-05-10 03:15:55

NewCityVegas
Resident Tech Reporter
From: ANTI-CENSORSHIP
Registered: 2008-12-02
Posts: 604
Website

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

If you're not using a USB 3.0 drive in a USB 3.0 port, you're asking for trouble.

It is not a speed demon but I never had a problem with my $70 compact Buffalo 1TB drive (a bit larger than a smartphone).

http://www.amazon.com/BUFFALO-MiniStati … 005EJLFVK/

41hRTc%2BxF1L.png


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#12 2013-05-10 04:11:01

gutterslob
#! Resident Bum
Registered: 2009-11-03
Posts: 3,173

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

Haven't really bothered with externals since I got my NAS set up, but fwiw, I have a couple a Transcend StoreJets (the ones with the rubberized exterior) from about 5 years ago that still work now. Mine are USB 2.0 only, but I assume there are 3.0 variants out now. Also have a couple of Hitachi drives from about 8 years back that still work and hold all the data I saved on em. Ironically, the only ext HDD that's died on me (after a couple of years of use) is the most expensive one - a Lacie Porsche edition. Thankfully, I won it at some store's anniversary giveaway day and didn't have to pay a cent.


Point & Squirt

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#13 2013-05-10 14:34:48

kiiroitori
#! CrunchBanger
From: Tokyo, Japan
Registered: 2010-12-07
Posts: 229

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

I have an external western digital HD that is about 8 year-old that I use moderately, i.e. for the occasional backup, and is still doing fine. Last year the controller chip died on me so I had to replace the external case (which is quite cheap). I guess this happens more than people think and possibly many good working drives are thrown away because of a faulty controller.

By the way I wonder if you can make a second internal HDD behave as an external one. I mean that the drive would spin and mount only if you select it in your file manager, and it would spin down after a issuing hdparm command. You would lose the portability but it would be much straighforward to use.


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#14 2013-05-10 17:17:41

anonymous
The Mystery Member
From: Arch Linux Forums
Registered: 2008-11-29
Posts: 9,419

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

Currently I am using a Western Digital My Passport 1TB and it works fine. Previously I had a Western Digital Caviar (2.5") inside a Vantec enclosure. If you are really concerned about reliability, I would recommend buying the hard drive and enclosure separately to ensure you can replace the parts individually.

That said, you cannot predict how long a drive will go without dying. Any drive from any brand can die unexpectedly. If you want portability, I would buy 2 external drives and periodically backup one up to the other. If this backup will be stationary in your home, you may consider using a NAS or a standalone RAID enclosure.

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#15 2013-05-11 19:35:51

Menschenkind
#! CrunchBanger
Registered: 2011-08-20
Posts: 203

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

Since I don't expect many more answers, I'll say thank you very much for now. You, as usual, have been a great help.

My personal favorite was this:

DebianJoe wrote:

I don't recommend having to have good feng shui to make backups, though.

Apart from that,

fatmac wrote:

As you back up to another machine, I would just use a (CAT5) cable & network them, you have a choice of programs to use, but probably rsync would suit.

this sounds like a great solution when I need to backup a whole machine at once, e.g. before reinstallation. I'll keep that in mind. But in general, I wanted to seperate the data from any running machines, hence external drives. According to your tips, I will get back to reading reviews after I moved next month and got back online. I wouldn't want to buy them now and stress them with excessive transportation. I'm quite aware of "you-get-what-you-pay-for" and therefore often spend a little more than I would like to and I'm glad NewCityVegas mentioned USB 3 issues, since I'm running USB 2. So, to conclude, I will do more research and will definitely consider buying two drives or one HDD and one usb-stick with a little more space for the most essential files. NAS and RAID are way over the top, considering that we're talking about, currently, 20 GB of crucial data and another maybe 100 not so important GB.
Again, thank you all very much. smile

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#16 2013-05-11 22:53:27

arclance
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2012-03-29
Posts: 953

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

I would recommend eSATA connections over USB for external drives, though you probably need a eSATA PCI card for that.
It is much faster than USB 2.0 and probably slower or the same speed as USB 3.0 depending on how your motherboard was designed.
I don't have any USB 3.0 devices so I have not done any real speed comparisons though.
The cables and ports are more durable as well so you are less likely to have an external enclosure fail for that reason.
That is why I don't use USB external drives anymore, the USB ports wear out to quickly.
You can get eSATA to SATA cables if your case is full but you have free SATA ports on your motherboard as well.
Most single drive eSATA enclosures have a USB port as well if you need to take the drive somewhere.

This is the enclosure I use myself for single drives.
It is not too expensive and has a built in fan to keep the drive cool.

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#17 2013-05-11 23:54:24

anonymous
The Mystery Member
From: Arch Linux Forums
Registered: 2008-11-29
Posts: 9,419

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

How long do did the USB plugs last before wearing out? I'm just curious since its not something that has happened to me yet.

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#18 2013-05-12 00:02:30

saneks
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2009-10-01
Posts: 1,015

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

^ interested as well. I saw built-in ports in laptops going loose from too much movement&force, but not the plugs in the cables going bad..

Last edited by saneks (2013-05-12 00:02:57)


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#19 2013-05-12 00:07:02

arclance
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2012-03-29
Posts: 953

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

^^ After less than 2 years, though under 1 year is not uncommon in my experience.
These drives were not moved or unplugged more than 10 times so I think the problem is really just the poor quality of the usb ports or the way they are mounted in the enclosure that causes them to fail in normal use.

In my experience Western Digital enclosures are the most likely to have usb port problems.
In my house we have had three fail that way (only one mine) and several of my friends have had it happen as well over the years.
The cable (one of those cheap looking thin ones) itself failed (the head broke free of the cable and insulator) for one of my friends first and the port failed a couple of months later.
None of these drives had any problems once they were put in a new external enclosure.

Last edited by arclance (2013-05-12 00:10:20)

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#20 2013-05-12 00:09:02

anonymous
The Mystery Member
From: Arch Linux Forums
Registered: 2008-11-29
Posts: 9,419

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

*Looks at 1TB WD My Passport sitting on computer* *knocks on wood*

Last edited by anonymous (2013-05-12 00:09:19)

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#21 2013-05-12 00:14:20

arclance
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2012-03-29
Posts: 953

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

^ Make sure you remove the cables from the ports if you take it anywhere, a friend of mine broke his by not doing that.
That time I could not blame the enclosure itself though since having the usb cable plugged in with the drive in your backpack is a great way to put too much stress on the usb port.

Last edited by arclance (2013-05-12 00:15:38)

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#22 2013-05-12 00:27:05

saneks
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2009-10-01
Posts: 1,015

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

^ this be sure.. dont leave plugs inside stuff when moving.. prone for breakage. - but you say stuff breaks after 10 times unplugging without  moving. this would be ridiculously crap quality.. can't really believe that. - but I handle my external drives extremely carefully and move and carry them around  as little as possible. because they contain my backup.

Last edited by saneks (2013-05-12 00:29:17)


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#23 2013-05-12 00:52:35

arclance
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2012-03-29
Posts: 953

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

^ The WD USB enclosures were the only ones that failed that quickly (I have seen it happen to three different people), they had the most delicate USB ports I have ever seen.
They may be better now, I have not used a WD enclosure in years so I can't comment on the current quality.
I don't recommend them based on their poor reliability in the past for me and others.
Their drives are not bad (though they run hot in my experience) but I have found their enclosures to be fragile.

The "failed after 10 plugs/unplugs" actually happened to me after six months with a WD enclosure (I think a My Book).
I was a backup drive that was only moved if it had to be and was treated delicately.
I cracked the enclosure open (literally since it needed a special tool) and put the drive in a new enclosure and it still works six years later.
Other brands lasted longer but they did break eventually, I still use one of them because it is my only PATA enclosure and the Firewire ports work.

I always buy enclosures with more than one type of data port (USB/Firewire, USB/eSATA, etc.) now anyway so there is a backup if one fails.

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#24 2013-05-12 01:58:21

mynis01
#! Die Hard
From: 127.0.0.1
Registered: 2010-07-02
Posts: 2,005

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

Who needs an enclosure? Just plug the drive in and then stick it in a static bag and stash it somewhere when you're done with your backups.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications … 4Aodwg4AKQ

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#25 2013-05-12 04:12:49

stanna
Member
Registered: 2013-05-10
Posts: 16

Re: Your opinion on external HDDs?

Western Digital External drives now have the controller as part of the drive itself so should the "Caddy" die then the drive is done aswell. you might be able to get away with purchasing another WD External exactly the same and swapping over the boards but you would been to be lucky to have th same firmware / revision.

i go for seagates but i generally have an external caddy sitting on my desk and i just stick a drive in and power it on and do what needs to be done. a non enclosed caddy is ideal in my eyes as you can use any HDD you want and then like suggested above slap it in an anti static bag and put it in a safe or where ever you keep your HDD backups.

Last edited by stanna (2013-05-12 04:13:14)


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