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Yo Sim! (External HDD question)

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Mark Laszczuk, 20th May, 2008.

  1. Mark Laszczuk

    Mark Laszczuk Well-Known Member

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    I'm looking to get an external hdd for home use. We have a couple of Seagate ones at work for back up (80 gigs), which I'm happy with, but I don't like that they can't be turned on/off.

    However, for home use I'm looking for something big (1 TB) as I have lots of music and movies and documentaries and stuff like that, that I'd like to keep backups of, as well as important financial stuff. Which brand would you recommend for something this size?

    Basically I just want something that I can keep permanently plugged into my computer which sits under the desk that I can turn on for 15 minutes every few days to back up stuff. Is there anything available that I can power on/off directly from my computer? Would save having to crawl around under my desk turning the thing on and off.

    Mark
     
  2. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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    I don't know about remote power off - haven't seen any that do this.

    I use two types of external hard drive - both use two drives in a RAID 1 configuration - which means each hard drive maintains a duplicate copy of the data. If one drive fails, I can replace it and the system restores the data from the other drive to reinstate the redundancy.

    It basically doubles your drive cost - but hard drives are relatively cheap these days.

    I have two Thecus N2100 NAS boxes (network attached storage), which run all the time (automatic power management stops the drives spinning when they aren't in use). Each box appears as a network server and I just map a network drive to them on my PC. This means I can access them from any machine, and even across WiFi.

    Each box has 2x 500GB drives in them (that was the most cost-effective at the time).

    Aus PC-Market Online eStore has the Thecus boxes - you need to buy your own drives to go with them (although I think AusPCMarket also do bundles with drives as well.

    The only problem with the Thecus drives is that they can be a little complex to set up - they are powerful devices and are actually mini-computers in their own right (have a CPU on board and everything).

    I ran out of space for my photos (280GB+ now !!), so I needed a new drive. I decided to go USB2 since I find it slightly faster than the network drives and it means I can power it off when not in use. I bought a "LaCie 2big dual 1TB" external hard drive from Mwave Australia: Buy & Save in more than one way at Mwave! - this is USB2 and eSATA only (no network connection), but also has 2x 500GB drives which I have configured into a RAID 1 array. Dead-easy to set up and has worked like a charm - includes drives too, so it's an all-in-one package.

    I decided on the LaCie drive over other similar external drives because it is possible to replace a drive yourself if one fails - some other devices you need to take it in for a technician to replace a drive.

    LaCie - 2big Dual (2-disk RAID) - eSATA II 3Gbits & Hi-Speed USB 2.0

    These LaCie drives actually have a three-position power switch: Off, Auto and On. The Auto setting means that the drive will power itself on and off as your machine is powered on and off. I don't use this (I power on the drive when I need it and then power it off when I'm finished), so I don't know how well it works.
     
  3. AsxBroker

    AsxBroker Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mark,

    1gb...sweet :)

    Personally I went for the budget version, I got a case Nexstar 3.5" drive which is usb2 and esata ($50) and bought a sata drive for $70.

    Being the budget version, there are no "one-touch" buttons, etc. You switch it on, USB2 is hot-pluggable, esata seems to like a quick reset. Esata is disturbingly quick!

    Sim's 2tb is MASSIVE!!! Though if your "cough" backing up your dvd collection, you could potentially fill it.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  4. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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    Actually I have 2x 500GB NAS storage RAID1, 1x 500GB USB/eSATA storage RAID1, 2x 500GB external USB HDDs in a cheap USB2 enclosure for offsite backup, 1x 300GB USB HDD, 1x 250GB USB HDD, plus about half a dozen 2.5" laptop hard drives with a small USB enclosure.

    I make it about 3.5TB of storage all up.

    I have about 260GB of video capture from my video camera and another 260GB of photos (digital photos and scans of old negatives and slides), plus another 50GB of mp3 files (my CD collection).

    The rest of the space is taken up with other data, backups (lots and lots of backups, which includes daily backups of all my websites).

    Funnily enough I don't back up the DVD collection at this point - although it's possibly worth looking into - especially as the DVD player is broken at the moment so I'm connecting the laptop to the TV to watch movies anyway.
     
  5. AsxBroker

    AsxBroker Well-Known Member

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    Sim,

    Wow! I hope you have some free space left somewhere :)

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  6. Nigel Ward

    Nigel Ward Team InvestEd

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    Now you're just showing off! :D

    Can I connect to an external drive wirelessly via wifi and what does the external drive need? Would I have to connect it to my wireless router via cable?

    Have various usb drives I back up on and store securely but the idea of being able to do it wireless is nice (altho perhaps too slow?)

    Thanks in advance IT Geeks. ;)

    N.
     
  7. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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    Firstly you need a NAS drive (Network Attached Storage) - which is fancy talk for an external drive that has a network connection (most computer stores might not know what you mean if you ask for NAS !!).

    Most have Cat-5 ethernet connections (you'd plug this into your router) ... but there are some which have WiFi as well (ie connects to your wireless router via WiFi).

    Depending on the speed of your WiFi and the quality of your connection to it (ie how far away from the router you are), the speed will vary anywhere from < 1Mbps (very slow) to 54Mbps (not too bad).

    It will be slower than being directly connected via cables (ethernet) - but if you're only doing small files it won't be too bad.

    Don't bother trying to work with large multimedia files over WiFi - unless you are very patient and have a very reliable WiFi link.

    Something like these would do the trick: LaCie - Network Attached Storage and RAID - Gigabit Ethernet
     
  8. tailcat

    tailcat Well-Known Member

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    Multiple Images

    Can anybody tell me if any of these external systems (especially the `one touch' systems) are capable of making restore images of three (or more) different computers or do I have to buy 3+ separate drives?

    I have 4 computers currently `permanently' exposed to the big bad world. They are pretty old, so there is no problem with disk capacity.

    Does anybody have experience with using this system to do a deliberate re-installation to overcome XP's degrading performance issues?

    Finally, has anybody used an external drive with a win98 system? (I told you they were old... Actually, I can get a better response from the win98 system than the main XP box.)

    Tailcat
     
  9. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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  10. tailcat

    tailcat Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Sim,

    I am well aware of VMWare's products. We use them quite extensively at work. I t is a cheap way for students to get their own multiple cpu `super-computer' for learning parallel/distributed programming. (I know there is also an linux based feature for doing the same thing.) We also have access to a 256 core machine. My programs still take a couple of days to run....

    The problem is that the kids each have a computer and the MIL has one too. Its bad enough with 4 keyboards and 7 users, don't cut me down to one keyboard please.....

    Tailcat
     
  11. johnnyb

    johnnyb Well-Known Member

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    Mark,

    I'm looking at the same thing at the moment, but probably only 500GB. I've narrowed it down to a LaCie model (LaCie - Hard Disk, Design by Neil Poulton - Hi-Speed USB 2.0) or a Western Digital MyBook (My Book Essential Edition 500 GB Hard Drives ( WDH1U5000 )). At the moment you can pick one of these up for about $170. They also have 1TB models for around $250 I think.

    The MyBook I'm looking at is the "Essential", which is basically just a hard drive. The next model up is the "Home", which comes with some bundled software for doing backups, but don't know what it's like.

    I am thinking about buying two and setting them up as a poor man's version of a RAID1 setup, but that's another story.

    John.
     
  12. the_captain

    the_captain New Member

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    Hey sim,

    Those Thecus boxes look very good and cheaper than the comparable ReadyNAS devices from Netgear.

    I am wondering what you do for offsite backup. Do you have 3 x disks in your RAID 1, and simply swap in one disk each week and store the mirror somewhere else, friends house, parents, desk drawer at work et al?

    How would you do this in a RAID 5 config, could you just take one disk out each week and re-stripe with a fresh disk?
     
  13. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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    I did actually buy some software used to run an offsite backup business - I ran a server and had the client software installed on my laptop and other machines, which automatically backed up data, compressed it, encrypted it and transferred it to my backup server across the internet. That was great when I was travelling a lot for work - since I could still do my backups when I was on the road. It was a pain to manage though - and didn't actually solve my personal offsite backup problems (paying for a hosted server in a data centre was too expensive). I ended up looking for a simpler solution.

    I have a couple of 500GB hard drives and a USB drive enclosure that I occasionally do a full data copy to - I keep one here and one at my sister-in-law's place and swap them over every so often. Not ideal really - since it relies on you actually spending the time to do the backups (500GB takes a while), and swapping the disks. If the house burns down you've lost everything since the last time you swapped.

    I'm currently running an automated SFTP backup routine to copy my important files to some online storage I have access to. It checks for updated files daily and uploads them to the server over the internet. Not really ideal, since I would prefer a higher degree of security - but security and manageability are often mutually exclusive - it's a pain to manage high levels of encryption. The backup server solution I used previously had great encryption and security, but with that came much greater complexity and made things much harder to manage :(
     
  14. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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    PS. I'm still considering re-instating my offsite backup server and business - if there was enough demand for it.

    I think many people are happy enough with either a USB drive and occasional backups, or else they use free online storage services out there to store files (and just ignore the security issues).

    Obvious target market would be small businesses who can't afford to lose their data.
     
  15. transit

    transit Well-Known Member

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    lots of great info in this thread, thanks for sharing Sim.
    I have finally bought my first laptop after my old desktop died and have an external 3.5' caddy with a 320GB IDE HDD for backup & to store my porn collection (j/k).
    Only problem is that it needs a power supply and is too bulky for my travels so i will soon lash out on a USB powered 2.5' external HDD.

    Someone told me the biggest external 2.5' USB powered HDD i can use is 250GB before i then have to get one with a separate power supply?
    Can anyone recommend a good 2.5' external HDD?

    Also has technology yet given us an 2.5' external HDD with power supply that i can read via blootooth?.... although there's probably not much point in it being bluetooth if it needs a power supply which makes it not truly portable?
     
  16. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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    Bluetooth probably not fast enough to handle the data transfer either ... not sure of the specs.

    For 2.5" enclosures, something from Aus PC-Market Online eStore will do the trick (look under "drive boxes")
     
  17. Mark Laszczuk

    Mark Laszczuk Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, you have a 1TB one for that, don't you.

    Mark
     
  18. AsxBroker

    AsxBroker Well-Known Member

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    Mark,

    I think he said that he had them all on at least 5tb ;)

    Transit, like Sim said, stick to the "wired" versions for now, its more secure. Down the track wireless USB will come out, you could theoretically have external peripherals in a bag or suitcase nearby and use your laptop.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  19. transit

    transit Well-Known Member

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    i used to but ran out of room so i have now moved onto a RAID system.

    Just had another look around that website and the prices for USB powered external 2.5' HDD's look reasonable although they make you pay extra for coloured ones.

    This one looks the best value at $135 inc postage:
    ASTONE 250GB USB2.0 PORTABLE BUS-POWERED DRIVE
    [​IMG]

    This one looks pretty for $200.20:
    WD 250GB PASSPORT USB2.0 PORTABLE BUS-POWERED DRIVE
    [​IMG]

     
  20. TryHard

    TryHard Well-Known Member

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    Hi guys - 'cos they were on special, I grabbed a couple of those WD 'MyBook Essential' 500GB drives earlier in the year, for some simple local mirroring of the data drives on 2 PCs. They work seamlessly so far (using software to run an incremental backup/compare on each shutdown), and turn on and off automatically with the USB connection.

    I was warned to avoid Maxtor like the plague (and I think now Lacie as they started using Maxtor HDDs) which a lot of those 'One Touch' suggested solutions are. With the right back up routine the USB connected HDDs or NAS options are pretty much 'no touch' after the initial set up anyway :)