Which External Harddrive to buy?? Question RE STORAGE SOLUTION


I am desperately looking for a definitive storage solution to accomodate my MP3 collection. I've bought a few high capacity harddrives but they all seemed to crash in one way or another, bad luck I guess

What I need is:

1. at least 250GB of space
2. which I can connect to my laptop using firewire and to my ipod also using firewire AT THE SAME TIME (so the device must have two firewire connectors)
3. it must not be too huge in physical size and too noisy in operation
4. it must have a separate on /off switch - or turn itself off as the computer is turned off.

I'm using a Sony Vaio Laptop, Pent. 4, with WINDOWS XP, SP1. It does not have USB 2. Only firewire.

I'm thinking I need something along the lines of a high capacity HDD put into an external enclosure. Does anyone have better ideas? Any personal recommendations? What products are the best on the market which offer a complete solution and are also reliable as well as convenient in operation? I don't mind paying $$$ as long as the device fits with my needs.

Thank you very much!! Look forward to your advice!
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1. at least 250GB of space
Maxtor, LaCie and Western Digital and I/O gear come to mind.

2. which I can connect to my laptop using firewire and to my ipod also using firewire AT THE SAME TIME (so the device must have two firewire connectors)
Your IPOD can't communicate directly with the disk AFAIK, you're tryring to overcome the limitation of having one firewire port on your laptop?  2 firewire ports are pretty standard on these drives/

3. it must not be too huge in physical size and too noisy in operation
They're all about the same size, smaller drives that use notebook 2.5 inch drives can be very tiny, not in this size range though.
Acousitic signatures for the bare drives are available but I haven't been able to find it for the external drives, which in any case muffle the drive. The LaCie's 2 125GB drives in raid0, so there might be more noise there... just a guess.

4. it must have a separate on /off switch - or turn itself off as the computer is turned off.
You do NOT want a Firewire powered drive, especially with a VAIO. The lacie has a switch, I believe the others are automatic though they do draw some current, the disk spins down.

I'd really stick with name brands here, the internal controller is the technical part you may potentially need supprt for and on a no-name enclosure it may be hard to get.

If you are concerned about speed then RPM is definitely a role playing factor.

      For cheap mobility:
    BYTECC ME-350U2F (SILVER) ALUMINUM External 3.5" (USB2.0 & IEEE1394 Combo)   <-- 400mb/s
Drive Options:
  Samsung 120GB 7200RPM Hard Drive Model# SP1213N
  Seagate 160GB 7200rpm EIDE Hard Drive Barracuda 7200.7 ST3160023A
  MAXTOR 250GB 7200RPM Hard Drive Model 7Y250P0 8MB OEM
     For Max storage capacity + drive protection + speed + multi-connections:
  Dual 3.5-inch Firewire Drive Bay Case w/Power Supply
  Dual Bay (5.25 inch) w/ Two Mobile Rack           <---- this would be sweet: swap drives forever.
    http://www.cooldrives.com/fi800dkatlad.html           Use for data & music & everything.
                                                                                If you get this see if you can buy extra trays.

If you haven't already you should definately consider a Firewire 800 PCIslot adapter for your laptop.  Ditto a USB2 card.  Can get both in one card.

If you opt for the BYTECC ME-350U2F you would have to either switch-hub the FW to get both devices connected or use a USB adapter for the laptop.  I recommend the latter.  The bulkier Dual-enclosures (from cooldrives) have two FW ports.

I'm not sure you can simultaneously access a single drive from separate devices (iPod + laptop) - but you either know the answer to that ... or will.

When considering what drives to insert into an enclosure keep in mind:
   - High spindle speed means more noise, more heat, & reduced service life.
   - If these drives are to always be accessed via USB &/or FW then those connections
     will be the limiting factor on speed.
   - Music playback could care less about speed: if you are really only gonna playback
     tunes you can get away with 5400 rpm.
   - If you plan to frequently attach these drives directly to IDE controller & perform large transfers
     then spindle speed *does* matter.
   - Large buffers are good.  Do not buy a large (120+) drive with a 2mb buffer drive: go for the 8.
   - The Maxtor 250mb drive has a 3 yr warranty (according to Newegg: verify it with Maxtor prior
     to purchase).
   - If you ever have to perform data recovery (and you will) off a large drive remember that you
     must have another drive handy that can hold at least the same amount of free space.  It's a bitch
     when dealing with >120gb drives.  It's often better to stick with multiple 120s - preferably of
     identical model so you can part-harvest and/or stripe them, if desired.

Have fun.  BTW, do you run an ftp server so I can grab some of your collection?  ;-)


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Oh yeah, and before you buy anything you'll want to know the addressing capacity of the IDE controller & BIOS in your Sony Vaio: it may be that you cannot use a drive greater than, say, 80gb - or 120 - or whatever.  If this is the case then you should go for the larger multi-device enclosures that have their own IDE controller built-in - or for many smaller drives in many BYTECC ME-350U2F - type enclosures.

- japman
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