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Recommendation For An External Hard Drive

Just wondering what those of you who have some experience with using external hard drives as a back up or secondary storage disk to your computer think of the various models out there. My computer is so full I can no longer edit the simplest job. I need to move all this to an external drive, but I am mystified as to which is best.

For example, Best Buy.com is offering a LaCie 250GB External USB 2.0 Hard Drive (Model: 300728U) for only 130 bucks. That seems like a pretty good deal, but I dont know anything about LaCie, and if I remember correctly there was a thread on here about one of the models being a real lemon.

any one with any strong feelings one or the other ?

PS. I have a Mac G4 ibook.

by Jon Anderson at 2006-03-31 01:26:35 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Santo Domingo , Dominican Republic | Bookmark | | Report spam→

LaCie have a pretty good reputation, take care however with the power supply. Slight older units sold with a really fragile power connector which apparently is not covered under warantee. I have 7 external hards disks at present. I started buying exclusivly LaCie and if you dont travel with them I think they are very stable. More recently I have been buying Logitec “Shock Proof Body” hard disks for the road as the build seems more durable for the bashing it gets in my camera bag when on assignment. I reccomend against buffalo if you come across them, had one bad experience and that was enough for me.

by [former member] | 31 Mar 2006 01:03 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
Jon, I believe LaCie drives are some of the best out the, review wise, mind you. I don’t use them though. I have a Powerbook G4 and I use a Smartdisk (http://www.smartdisk.com/eWeb/smartdiskus/www/staticpages/fireliteporthdd.asp) of 80GB. Of course, it is much smaller than the LaCie but I like it because it doesn’t use an external power supply and is palm-sized. You connect it to the Firewire port of your laptop and is up and running. They are also quite a bit costlier than the LaCie’s for the storage amount they provide.


by Luis E. Andrade | 31 Mar 2006 02:03 | Philadelphia Metro Area, United States | | Report spam→
La Cie has taken some pretty hard hits on Photo District News Website. You can go there and do a search for “LaCie”.
Also www.resellerratings.com is a pretty good source for reports on vendors such as Best Buy, and others. Here again (Best Buy), I’d do
a little checking!


by [former member] | 31 Mar 2006 02:03 | Buhl, Idaho, United States | | Report spam→

I have 3 250gb LaCie firewire 400 drives. One is for random projects, and the other 2 are
identical back up disks. When I was working for Art + Commerce we used around 12 LaCie 250gb
firewire 400 drives when we were waiting for a RAID server to be configured and istalled.
We had the entire archive on those drives, and we used them hard everyday for a few months
without a single problem. I think the key is redundancy and cutting down your risks of data loss.

by [former member] | 31 Mar 2006 02:03 | Quito, Ecuador | | Report spam→
hi Jon, on my G4 I use a Maxtor Personal Storage 5000 DV. So far so good…small and easy.

by [former member] | 31 Mar 2006 02:03 | Brooklyn, NY, United States | | Report spam→
I use a 200GB Western Digital dual option (USB2/Firewire 400) external HD. I take it with me everywhere. It has survived maybe 20 trips in checked luggage, after TSA inspection and then not being properly repacked.

My brother-in-law is a network admin at the third largest DVD image processing center in the U.S. and they use hundreds of these drives as temporary backups and scratch drives. Durable and reliable. The only rub on my model is there’s no power switch – you just plug it in and go. Get one with a power switch.

by Jerome Pennington | 31 Mar 2006 03:03 | | Report spam→
I’ve got two Western Digitals, from their Caviar series which have bigger (8Mb) caches.. No problems with them at all…


by Jon Reid | 31 Mar 2006 03:03 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
Just as a general suggestion, be sure to get a firewire external. 400 or 800 or ideally both. If you have the 800 firewire connection. Faster and better way to go. If you get into a smaller external as a bootable harddrive and use SuperDuper! (thanks all for the suggestion – it works great) it has to be a firewire as a usb will not boot properly.

by John Robert Fulton Jr. | 31 Mar 2006 03:03 (ed. Mar 31 2006) | Fort Worth, TX., United States | | Report spam→
Jon, Lacie have a tendency to crash and do weird things. OWC’s Mercury Elite Pro are the best I’ve ever used, here’s the link http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/fw400-USB2-combo-drives/

by [former member] | 31 Mar 2006 06:03 (ed. Mar 31 2006) | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
OWC was I thinking as well, they are easy to order from and geeky. They have good prices, too. Never trusted places like bestbuy, etc.
Sometimes it’s worth to avoid the cheapest option. I would like to add that you buy two, one for a back up of the first, I had a external and it crashed on me without warning. Makes a nice paperweight. Apple is usb2 now as well.

by Andreas Kornfeld | 31 Mar 2006 06:03 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
All these wonderful replies and I never received a single email notice. so we are still a bit hinky here vis a vis the Big Transfer.

OK, well my concerns are twofold, and obviously as Michael pointed out redundancy is your insurance against problems. Of course I have everything burned onto CDs as well. One issue is the durability of these things, since they have moving parts, but I gather they are no different from my internal hard drive and that has served me well. The real problem here in St Domingo is the extremely unreliable electric supply, and while I have never had a problem with my two computers, which are hooked up to circuit breakers and UPS batteries, I still get very nervous with anything that requires a steady surge free supply of juice. So the LaCie thing worries me a bit and I might look into The smartdisk option (thanks Luis) looks like a good solution for me, but I will check out the OWC Mercury, if it is indeed sturdier than the La Cie.

I suppose I shouldnt worry too much. Most of my friends down here have extremely ad hoc set ups: they mostly just buy harddrives and install them in a shell. Everything down here is makeshift.

Btw, for those of you who are still using CDs (I dont have a DVD burner), I found this article detailing how to care for them. I didnt know that you werent supposed to use felt markers on them (I use sharpies to catalogue the contents). Oh well.

by Jon Anderson | 31 Mar 2006 13:03 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
Yep, just checked out the sites. The Mercury from OWC looks just right, and when Smartdisk has more in stock I could get one of those as a portable option (dont know why, but Smartdisk is listing the larger size version as out of stock at the moment).

Bob, you are now listed as a former member. You’re still with us I trust, so you need to sign up again I bet. Another little glitch.

by Jon Anderson | 31 Mar 2006 13:03 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
I have to LaCie Big Disks (500GB) and they mirror each other in case of failure. I have had them both for two years and I have never had a problem or a glitch.
I also travel with a LaCie mini (80GB), and it has performed well also.
I have read all the feedback on the sites and I am surprised with all the problems folks had with their LaCie’s. Mine are running smooth.

Best of luck with your choice.

by Ryan Pyle | 31 Mar 2006 14:03 | Shangahi, China | | Report spam→
Jon, they have the Smartdisk at the Apple store (http://tinyurl.com/s3p4o), a 100gb for $250.00. (Actually, what I paid for my 80gb about a year ago…)


by Luis E. Andrade | 31 Mar 2006 14:03 | Philadelphia Metro Area, United States | | Report spam→
Jon, I would consider FireWire over USB2. FW is faster and can be bootable if you install an OS on the drive. Macs cannot be booted from USB drives. Which hard drive depends on what you are looking for. The SmartDisk Firelite drives are nice, they have a good reputation and they are very compact. But the you pay for the compact size. The 100 gig one, (the largest available) is about $250 US, but a LaCie 250 gig drive is only about $220 US. jack

by Jack Kurtz | 31 Mar 2006 15:03 | Phoenix, AZ, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks Jack, yeah I am thnking along your lines. But I think I will get OWC’s Mercury, and then consider the Smartdisk for a second backup. sounds like a plan.

by Jon Anderson | 31 Mar 2006 15:03 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
You should also be aware of the new SATA drives and the direction that many manufacturer are heading. SATA is faster than firewire and usb 2, and can be utilized on many of the new macs, which have space for a SATA card. These drives, like the Seagate Barracuda, are professional drives, fast, sturdy, etc. You buy a “sled” which holds 2, 4, or even more drives, each one having its own fan and infrastructure. You can pop these drives in and out with ease, using them as your active or offline archive. In about a month I have to invest in a completely new archive system, as “just buying hard drives” I’ve learned is a surefire way to guarantee you will lose images. I’ve been asking a lot of questions to those who do archiving and digital asset management for a living, so I feel pretty good about moving in this direction. I intend to use 250 gig drives, in pairs or even three’s, filling them up equally, then storing the drives as backup, instead of portable media like CD or DVD, which is just too slow and unreliable in the long term. This will also make your life easier when it comes to migration of your archive, which will need to occur each 2-3 years at a minimum. The Blu-Ray DVD is also on the way, holding somewhere between 25-50 gigs of storage. Just fyi.
If you are laptop only, you can buy a card that fits in your card slot which will run the SATA sled.

by Daniel Milnor | 31 Mar 2006 16:03 | Southern California, United States | | Report spam→
I have two external LaCie on my PowerBook G4. No problem at all. But in my production company we have more than 50 LaCie and we lost 4 of them between one and two years. So we are starting to buy now Glyph Hard Drive. However. You have to format or defrag your Hard Drive once every 3 or 4 months if you keep capturing and working on it. Also I make back ups of my important work in my FTP server. So if your HD crashes you will always have the work in a safety place.

by el rodamon | 31 Mar 2006 19:03 | Montreal, Canada | | Report spam→
I’ve been using Iomega HDs for quite a while now… they’re reliable in my opinion. My last one is a 300 GB, triple interface.

by Luca Lacche | 01 Apr 2006 01:04 | Le Marche, Italy | | Report spam→
Hello Jon,

I have seen many people lose Lacies and all there data—motly due to improper cooling. Also, Lacie does not make there own drives and there are two manufacturers in the states that do [Seagate, and I believe Western Digital as well]

I would suggest you look into the above SATA option w/ seagate drives or start small with a Seagate Firewire/USB drive [twice the chances of getting at your pictures].

If you can, buy everything in twos and make sure to cover yourself by creating redundancy through manual backup or a RAID configuration.

At the moment I think the Seagate 300GB are going for around $200 on pricegrabber.com and the prices are dropping consistently since they have recently aquired Maxtor [which is another dependable make].

by Seth Butler | 01 Apr 2006 03:04 | Barnard, Vermont, United States | | Report spam→
Jon. I recently went the HD route myself. I treat my digital files like film and will not delete a single crap image. I like to look back at the process like one would a contact sheet. Especially after the fact. It’s amazing how you can see things a year later that had no relevance at the time of first edit. So anyways, burning dvd’s just got too time consuming, and I still haven’t figured out the best means of cataloging thumbnails of all these raw files (anyone?). I guess that’s for another post though? Anyways, I went with lacie big disk for now. I read some bad reviews about the porsche models. They sell a lot of their units, so they are bound to have more failures by the numbers. Percentage wise, I believe it’s the same as any other brand. Definitely get two (to mirror) if you can afford it. My instinct is to not have them running all the time. I back up to one every week or so, then as my laptop drive fills, I back up to the other which is kept out of the house. This keeps two mirrored copies of all the stuff at all times. If I’m not actively backing up, the external HD isn’t even plugged in. I live in a 100 year old ungrounded house so my faith in the clean electricity isn’t all that dear as well. Maybe this is bad, but again, I’m going on instincts here. Oh yeah, that lacie big disk is firewire 400/800 as well as usb 2.0. If you are on OSX, it’s virtually plug and play. Less than $1usd a gig too.


Funny, until 5 years ago I was a confirmed luddite who wouldn’t even use an ATM card. Now I’m doling out half-assed advice on technological things I know little about. So take my advice with a grain, there are many others here that are far more knowledgeable than myself on these matters. But since you asked, that’s what I do/use.

by Jethro Soudant | 01 Apr 2006 05:04 | Buffalo, NY, United States | | Report spam→
Joh, you might consider this: http://hyperdrive.com/shop/index.php

It can hold the largest laptop drive availalbe. I put a 120 GB drive in mine. It has a lot of different uses, is quite small, can run on AA batteries, very fast downloads of flash cards in the field, and is overall great for travel. Downside is there is no screen to view the images and it is limited to the size of the largest laptop drive on the market (but at least you can easily change them out as bigger one come available).

by Roger Arnold | 01 Apr 2006 05:04 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→

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Jon Anderson, Photographer & Writer Jon Anderson
Photographer & Writer
Ocala Florida , United States
Luis E. Andrade, I shoot and I write Luis E. Andrade
I shoot and I write
Philly Metro Area, Jersey Side , United States
Jerome Pennington, photographer, sushi snob Jerome Pennington
photographer, sushi snob
(pointing & shooting since 1987)
Santa Clarita, Ca , United States
Jon Reid, Photographer Jon Reid
Sydney , Australia
John Robert Fulton Jr., Photographs John Robert Fulton Jr.
Spring Lake, Michigan , United States
Andreas Kornfeld, Photographer Andreas Kornfeld
[undisclosed location].
Ryan Pyle, Photographer Ryan Pyle
Shanghai , China ( PVG )
Jack Kurtz, Photojournalist Jack Kurtz
Bangkok , Thailand
Daniel Milnor, Photographer Daniel Milnor
New York , United States
el rodamon, el rodamon
Astoria, Nyc , United States
Luca Lacche, photography Luca Lacche
Le Marche , Italy
Seth Butler, Photographer Seth Butler
Barnard, Vt , United States
Jethro Soudant, Photographer Jethro Soudant
Buffalo, Ny , United States
Roger Arnold, Cameraman Photographer Roger Arnold
Cameraman Photographer
Bangkok , Thailand


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