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External Storage Drive: Brand Recommendation

Posted on 2004-10-16
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-03

I have just bought a Maxtor One-Touch 160GB external drive for backup purposes to replace a Maxtor internal drive I was using in a CRU dataport for a similar purpose.  Both failed.  The internal drive in the dataport lasted 18 months (not continuous use, mind you; just when I was backing up) and the One-Touch kept spontaneously disconnecting (USB 2.0 connected) right out of the box. I returned it.  I have another Maxtor external  drive (model 5000, 120GB) that has been running fine for 18 months.  It's connected via Firewire.

I need another brand recommendation from Maxtor.  I've had too many Maxtor failures.  What do you know about SimpleTech, e.g.,  as a brand?  I can get a good deal on it from Costco, but I'm unfamiliar with SimpleTech.
 (see  If not this, what brand & vendor have you had success with?  (Which has the fewest failures/issues?)  

I can connect USB or 1394.  Any preferences here? Is it better/faster to use USB or F/W?

I have Dell XPS, 2.8Ghz, 200GB + 120GB internal storage, 1GB RAM, XP Pro, SP 1.  USB 2.0 + Firewire. As my DR plan, I weekly backup my primary partition with Ghost 2003 and XXCopy my other 4 partitions to dual external drives; one is kept off-site.

Question by:WSC
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Expert Comment

ID: 12330878
I know the SimpleTech brand from their memory modules, which are very good, but then again, there are very
few cases in which I've seen RAM fail by itself (not due to static electricity, etc) I don't know about their other
products, but since you're buying it from Costco, you have 30 days to return it, they are pretty good with returns.

As to the USB 2.0 vs FIREWIRE, I don't think it is wrong to say you can go either way, I'm not sure if the
USB 2.0 is a little faster than Firewire, it may not be but I remember hearing that somewhere, but at any rate
they're both fast.

Expert Comment

ID: 12330962
How much are you backing up.    I do know that Maxtor is useing Sata in most of their Back up drives where Simple Tech is useing  IDE.  Big difference as SATA is showing to have some big problems with drive Failures...Also Maxtor had some real problems witrh drives overheating recently.  Western Digital has a good Back up Drive I saw one on their site I liked.The Outpost website has one  by buffalo They have been good about supporting the equipment I have sold in the past.      Buffalo 250GB HD-HB250U2 DriveStation USB 2.0   The Link to this site is

LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 12331230
Every brand has a failure rate.  I haven't seen many maxtors failed and I have seen MANY Western Digital drives fail.  BUT, I would attribute the success and failures to the fact I've seen many more Western Digital drives than Maxtor.  Drives have moving parts.  They fail.  If you want to secure your data, always keep backups and/or setup a RAID.  Simple Tech PROBABLY uses some other brand of hard drive in an External casing.  If you bought it, you'd probably find a Western Digital, Samsung, Seagate, or Maxtor drive in the unit.

Firewire tends to have better, more consistant data transfers than USB2, even though the specs would otherwise indicate USB2 is faster.

I'd actually recommend saying away from costly external ENCLOSURES and get a "Firewire Drive Dock" from  As the name suggests, it's firewire.  In addition, it's NOT an enclosure, but a device that effectively turns ANY internal IDE Hard drive into an External drive, with easily swapped drives.
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Author Comment

ID: 12331953
I'm backing up a total of about 151GB broken down as follows:
C (Programs): 9GB, D (music): 35GB, E (files) : 6GB, F (photos): 7GB, G (Home videos1): 74GB, M (Home videos2): 20GB.   I Ghost drive C and XXCopy all the others.

I was not aware that Maxtor externals are using SATA; I thought SATA was just a type of interface between the drive and the controller card. How is it using SATA in an external drive? Both my internal drives are IDE.

Of course, my external Maxtor One-Touch was connected USB.  I could have used F/W, but I also have another external connected F/W and for this one I chose USB in case one works better in a DR recovery situtation with Ghost.  I never tested the One-Touch's reliability connected F/W.  Maybe it would have worked that way, but I want the drive to function perfectly either way when it's new and especially since it's part of my DR plan!

Now see, LeeW has seen Western Digital fail a lot.  You say it's okay. I have heard that WD fail a lot too, but no hard evidence to support that fact.  Sigh.

I think I've had a total of 9 drives on my four PC's in my life and four drives failed: 1 IBM, 3 Maxtors (2 internal, 1 external).  Somehow the industry needs a better measure of reliability than MTBF when folks like me are experiencing this high a failure rate; but I digress....

Buffalo.  That's a great price, but I've never heard of the brand.  IBM and Seagate are ones that I've at least heard of.  Is Buffalo a major player?  I'd like the option of both USB & F/W interfaces on my external, though.  I thought that that was standard these days.

Interesting, Maxtor (and I think WD) have cut their warranties to 6 months.  SimpleTech has 3 YEARS. Wow. To me, that's a key statement.  The external drive I'm replacing was an internal 120GB Maxtor in a CRU USB dataport enclosure (see Anyway, it simply stopped spinning.  Dead.

Why do you prefer the non-enclosure option?  The picture indicates that it just attaches to the connetors of the drive and then a USB or F/W connects to that "interface." Is that how it works? (Is it that simple?) That seems like this would leave the internal drive awfully 'exposed' and more vulnerable to damage.  Is my understanding correct?  I don't need to swap drives too much unless one dies.  

The other disadvantages I saw in an (enclosed) dataport drive were that it was noisy and difficult to collect on a drive warranty failure without actually installing the drive in your PC and proving (like via Maxtor Maxblast, e.g.) that it wasn't working.  Since I'm not a hardware-compentant guy, that presents unwanted challenges.  It also comes in either USB or F/W.  I like having both options in a single external.  This drive dock seems to only be available in F/W, true? Still, you really like this option,huh?  Is it that simple to install/use?

Also, LeeW, my observation too is that F/W is a bit faster overall.

I really appreciate the feedback, but I don't seem much consensus here.  Besides the questions I've asked, any other thoughts?

Thanks so much.....

LVL 96

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 150 total points
ID: 12332263
I prefer the non-enclosure option because:
1.  _I_ have control over the brand and size of drive used
2.  As a consultant, I can use my notebook with built-in firewire to attach this device to a client's hard drive and recover data/repair corruption.
3.  Easier warranty service for the drive.
4.  Quick - I have to change drives, I just shut off the Drive Dock and disconnect and reconnect.

I just took a quick sampling of ATA drives.  I found that:
*MOST Western Digital OEM drives are 3 year warranty - retail drives are usually 1 Year.
*Maxtor drives are almost ALL 1 year
*Seagate drives are almost ALL 5 year
*Samsung drives are almost ALL 3 year
*Hitachi drives are split, roughly 50/50 between 3 year and 1 year.

I would, based on the warranty information, suggest a Seagate drive.  However, despite my apparent success, I would NOT recommend the MAXTOR's UNLESS you were setting up a RAID and could deal with a failed disk.  Even then, it would not be my preferred drive - again because of warranty.

The Drive Dock just connects to the IDE pins on the drive and has a power connector with it.  It really is that simple.  I've never had to set the jumper to master or slave, whatever it's setting, the drives have just worked.

Author Comment

ID: 12333337
Hmm.  Interesting.  I read somewhere recently that Maxtor was cutting its warranty to 6 months (PC Mag/PC World).   How do you get warranty service for a drive in a non-enclosure; don't you then have to install it to boot to a diskette to generate some error code the vendor will accept as evidence of drive failure?

Since I'm not a consultant, I don't need the quick switch, but I can easily see its appeal for you.

All Seagate externals at were 1 year warranty.  Odd.

PC Mag rated the Seagate external performance as mediocure.,1759,1639521,00.asp

No experience with SimpleTech?  Great price, warranty, and size. I just have no experience with them.  Any knowledge of them?

LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 12333398
To be clear, the seagate drives with 5 year warranties were for internal use only.  NOT the external models.

Warranty service - with Western Digital is EASY - AMAZINGLY easy.  Just go to their web site and fill out a very SHORT form and they give you an RMA number and you ship the drive back, then they ship you a new one - or do a cross shipment with a credit card and ship it back in the box with the new drive they send you.  You never have to speak to anyone or otherwise "justify" the return beyond a 30 character explanation (which is WAY too short if you ask me, but how they've done things).  

Otherwise, yes, you'd put a drive in a system boot up and if you enable SMART (a built in diagnostic feature to BIOS and hard drives, most of them) you can explain that SMART indicates a failure, or otherwise explain the situation.  I've dealt mostly with Western Digital drives as I've said before, but I've definitely seen my share of other drives.  MOST of the time, a failure can be diagnosed with the use of a diagnostics disk.  (Clicking noise is a common problem - then the drive is pretty much dead and they don't argue with you on that - likewise, SMART failures are pretty difficult for the manufacturers to dispute.

I'd be inclined to think MOST companies keep the warranties on the portable drives short because they expect people will be transporting them.  Drives constantly moved around can be damaged from dropping them and otherwise be difficult for the manufacturer to blame on the user because of the lack of a strong sign of physical damage.

Consider if you got the firewire drive dock - or really your own enclosure and not a pre-made one, you'd have a longer warranty on the drive (potentially, depending on which drive you bought).
LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 12333403
Other than the that they make a memory, I've never dealt with other simpletech products.

Expert Comment

ID: 12335223
i recommend Iomega for external drives they are the best i have tried so far

Accepted Solution

tosh9iii earned 225 total points
ID: 12335841

Expert Comment

ID: 12358182
FWIW, like USB, firewire also has more than one version. You say you are using USB 2.0, but not what version of Firewire. People here seem to be assuming you are using the first version, what is becoming known as firewire400.


1) firewire400 is much faster than usb 1.0 or usb 1.1
2) firewire400 is a little faster than usb 2.0 (due to protocol issues etc) - however, usb relies more on the host processor, so you might be able to improve that some
3) firewire800 is a lot faster than usb 2.0

People often seem to compare the 3rd generation USB with the 1st generation firewire. I'm not sure why.

As to choice of drives, I've had good experiences with Wiebetech drives :

you can buy them with drives, or buy your own. I've been buying WD drives; and haven't had any trouble with them yet.

Hope this helps.


Expert Comment

ID: 12367747
I got an external 80GB USB 2 Western Digital from eBay more than a year ago, absolutely no problems what so ever.

Author Comment

ID: 12379182

I have f/w 400 and USB 2.0.  At your suggested site, I didn't see any stand-alone external drives.   Interesting site, though.

Expert Comment

ID: 12381327
"No stand-alone external drives"? That's all they sell, pretty much.

What do you mean by 'stand-alone'?

Am I misunderstanding you?

I have used many 'drive docks' with drives that I have had left over from other systems. They have, with one exception (some versions of WD2000), worked very well.


Author Comment

ID: 12385338

You're right.


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