View Full Version : Reliable External Hard Drive

17-12-2009, 09:41 AM
Need some help with choosing a reliable, not too expensive (up to $150.00) external hard drive - are they all portable?
Bought a MemorexTravelDrive 320GB for my daughter in February which seems OK but would like a few more GBs. Thanks.

17-12-2009, 09:48 AM
Seagate 500GB. 5 year warranty.



The 2.5" ones only require USB power, the 3.5" require mains power but are cheaper.

Make sure you know what brand of drive is in an enclosure before you buy it.

17-12-2009, 09:49 AM
Just had another look at storage and prices. Need to up my price a bit! The memorex was on special from DSE - think I was there at just the right time.

17-12-2009, 09:51 AM
Seagate or Western Digital only.

17-12-2009, 11:31 AM
seagate? Id never trust my data to one again. Lost too many in way too short a time...

17-12-2009, 01:39 PM
Here are some things to help you decide what size you want(2.5" or 3.5")

2.5": Smaller, lighter and powered via USB only so are more portable.....however they are much more expensive per GB and also a bit slower than 3.5" drives.

3.5": Very cheaper per GB, but require main power to use...and are quite bulky and less portable.

Once you've decided which size you want, pretty much any seagate or WD will do. However, for 3.5" drives 1TB is currently the best value.

seagate? Id never trust my data to one again. Lost too many in way too short a time...

Probably just unluckiness...and thats why you backup!


17-12-2009, 01:57 PM
seagate? Id never trust my data to one again. Lost too many in way too short a time...


Many people take their hard disk drives for granted, and don't think about their reliability much (other than worrying about their disk crashing some day). While the technology that hard disks use is very advanced, and reliability today is much better than it has ever been before, the nature of hard drives is that every one will, some day, fail. It is important to understand how drives fail and why, and how to interpret what manufacturers claims about reliability really mean.

The drive's warranty length and stated service life is more indicative of what the manufacturer really thinks of the drive. The simple fact of the matter is that most major hard drive manufacturers make very high quality products, and most hard disks provide their owners with years of very reliable service. However, all manufacturers make the occasional bad drive, and sometimes, manufacturers will have a problem with a particular product.

The read/write heads of the hard disk float on a cushion of air over the surface of the platters. Each time the power is applied to the drive, the platters spin up to speed, and the buildup of air under the heads causes them to lift off the data surfaces. When the power is cut, the platters spin down, the cushion of air dissipates, and the heads drop back to the surface of the drive. (Actual contact with the drive normally occurs in a dedicate landing zone, to ensure the heads don't contact parts of the disk containing user data.)

Each time the drive starts and stops a small amount of wear occurs to the heads and also to other components such as the spindle motor.

The most common error rate spec is the drive's unrecoverable error rate, which is usually specified as "<1 in 10N bits", where "N" is usually between 12 and 15. "Unrecoverable" means that the drive is unable to use its error-correcting code, retries or other techniques to recover from the error in reading the disk and thus properly recreate the data. If "N" is 14, then that means this will occur every 100 trillion (100,000,000,000,000) bits read from the disk.

There are many ways that a hard disk can fail. The one that usually comes to mind first, the infamous "head crash" is not the only way or even necessarily the most common any more. There can also be problems with bad sectors showing up on the drive, for example. Many people don't think of this, but the integrated controller can also sometimes be the culprit for a bad drive.

Due to their mechanical nature, there are several characteristics of hard disks that aren't relevant to most other PC components. Among these are the noise and vibration created by the disk drive. Hard disks on the other hand have very high-speed motors and actuators, both of which can make considerable noise and generate vibrations.

A comprehensive list of failures that can cause a drive to fail would be as long as your arm, and there's really no point in compiling one. This short list will give you a flavor for the types of failures that occur:

* Mechanical Failures: These include component failures related to the mechanics of the disk. Problems of this type usually relate to the spindle motor or bearings, such as motor burnout, "stuck" bearings, excessive heat, or excessive noise and vibration. Actuator problems would also fit into this general category

* Head and Head Assembly Failures: The infamous head crash fits in here, as do other problems related to the heads: improper flying height, head contamination, defects in head manufacture, excessive errors on reads or writes, bad wiring between the heads and the logic board. These too comprise a large percentage of total failures.

* Media Failure: This class of problems relates to trouble with the platters and the magnetic media, formatting, servo operation and the like. This would include drives that fail due to read or write errors, poor handling, scratches on the media surface, errors in low-level formatting, etc. These are often the easiest to retrieve data from.

• Logic Board or Firmware Failures: These are problems related to the drive's integrated logic board, its chips and other components, and the software routines (firmware) that runs it.

Drive Not Recognized: If the drive is not recognized at all by the BIOS of a motherboard to which it is connected where it was recognized by that BIOS in the past, this is a sign of a failed drive.

If you use computers long enough and often enough, you will eventually will have to deal with a failed drive. It really is only a matter of time and luck. When this occurs with a drive that is reasonably new, you'll want to have it repaired or replaced under warranty. Unfortunately, most people couldn't tell you anything about their hard disk's warranty other than its length--and in some cases they later find out that they were mistaken about even that! The vast majority of hard disk users don't read the "fine print”.

When you send a hard disk in on a warranty claim, the drive you get back is never the one you sent in. In fact, many defective drives are in fact never repaired at all, since it is so expensive to do so.

If you are worried about the data on a disk that is totally dead, there is really nothing you can do to get the data off the drive that won't also void the warranty of the drive. There have been "James Bond" like reports of experts retrieving data due to trace magnetic fields on the disk; even if true, someone would have to be remarkably motivated to even bother with such an exercise.
It is true that data recovery companies can do amazing things, but they aren't miracle workers.

If for some reason you fail to back up your important data, it is still sometimes possible to recover it in the event of a hard disk failure. There are data recovery services that specialize in restoring lost data from hard disks that have either failed or been corrupted due to software problems (accidental formatting, viruses, etc.)

All this wizardry comes at a cost, of course. The cost is high for three reasons: the equipment is expensive, the people are highly skilled, and the company knows how valuable the data is or you wouldn't be talking to them. Compared to recreating a year's worth of data, $2,000 for a recovery is a bargain. Compared to doing routine backups, it's a colossal waste of money.

19-12-2009, 02:00 PM
Crikey! Thanks! - I think.