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Juan VelasquezFlag for United States of America

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Portable Drives for backup


I've decided that it is high time that I provide some sort of backup for the files on my laptop, other than just burning DVDs.  I've decided to build my own portable hard drive for storage.
My requirements are as follows:
500 GB to 1TB of storage
USB connection
2.5" SATA hard drive
I will be backing up photos, music, documents

I have the following questions
What hard drives should I look at.  I confess I have a preference for Western Digital and Seagate
What enclosures would be good bets.
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Just be careful not all external enclosures support 1 TB. As for recommendation VANTEC's are good and I think reasonably priced.

As for disks I'm also happy with WD and Seagates, if you are considering USB3 maybe 7200 RPM's would be better.
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For the higher capacity hard drives, would you recommend connecting them to the lap-top via a powered usb hub
There are many options and variables when it comes to backups, but to answer your question before making your head spin, I would go on, search for the hard drives and enclosures.

You have the option to sort them by best rating, and from there you can read pros and cons of each product from customers.

This will give you a fairly good idea of the products out there and make a good descision on what to purchase.

When it comes to backup, first thing to ask yourself is how valuable is the data you want to save.

If you are only backing up on a single drive, that drive could get damage through hardware failure, fire or if you drop it.

For hardware failure, it is best to go with a setup of two hard drives that are mirrored (RAID 1). There are enclosures that are setup with hard drives to purchase.

For fire or other damage, you could invest an annual amount of $100 to backup unlimited data remotely to secure servers using online backup services such as Mozy or Carbonite. These are becoming very popular and you can schedule your backup as well as having revisions of files remotely.

Again, it all comes to the one simple question, how valuable is your data...
Save the money on a powered hub.  Get something like a seagate freeagent pro, and it has 2 USB connectors.  Hook them both up if you don't have enough power.
I did some research and went with buying a portable drive from Western Digital.  The elite passport series
So its going to be a USB connection!

Just make sure that you plan ahead and do not exceed the USB insertion limits

From wikipedia:
newer Micro-USB receptacles are designed for up to 10,000 cycles of insertion and removal between the receptacle and plug, compared to 1500 for the standard USB and 5000 for the Mini-USB receptacle

That means for a standard USB and used daily that's just over 4 years!  Giving yourself a 50% margin - this is your backup remember - then 2 years max.

Just document the reasons why so you don't forget. Why not set a reminder (on your laptop) for 2 years hence with the reasons why.
Solve THAT problem by just buying a USB hub for the middle, and leaving cables permanently attached to both the storage and host computer.   Then just a matter of swapping out the hub in the middle.

Of course that only gives you 1500 insertions, then you need a new hub and pair of cables, so now you are down to 1499 insertions.   (So that gives you 1500 x 1500 or 2,250,000).  So this will be your ancestor's problem when you hit the limit :)
> So this will be your ancestor's problem when you hit the limit :

If it's really his ancestor's problem.... we're in a time warp!
What if you just leave the hub and cables plugged in all the time
then there is no need for a hub.  don't worry about the 1500 insertion limit. do the  math. it is unlikely you will hit the threshold before you retire the gear
Sorry dlethe i don't agree! OK so you use permanent cables in server and disk that would be good practice. and you use a hub.
If the disk is plugged into the hub every day by the same cable you will hit the limit on the cable end and on the hub port assuming you use the same port, after 2 years you will need to change the disk cable and the hub. What happens after 2 years if you don't replace these items

These limits are on every cable end, every socket, of course YMMV and it might work reliably for 4 years or longer, but do you want to risk it!

What is actually happening is that the gold on the connectors is being worn on both the plug and the socket every time you make and unmake the connection. The gold is only so thick, so eventually it will wear out.

PS these issues are common to all connectors.
Yes, I know, one of my degrees is EE.  I was going to let it go, but now that you brought it up, the wiki is wrong.

You should read the full specs and not just a summary written by some non-engineer at wiki who doesn't even understand what he/she is looking at.  The "1500" number is NOT what you explained it to be.  It is NOT an upper limit on insertion/removal cycles.

Specifically, the spec says that it must not "show physical damage and meet requirements of subsequent tests" after 3 groups of 500 insertion cycles, where each group of 500 must be completed within 1 hour max.  This is all related to the durability test, or EIA 364 test #9, and the rise in temperature due to the robotic actions of plugging/unplugging approx every 10 seconds is a big part of this 1500 magic number.   It is NOT a test that it has been inserted 1500 times over it's lifetime.  

I assure you, that unless you just snap it off, that every bit of gold could scrape off and it will still perform adequately.  However, if  that would have happened it would fail the test, but all it would take is a little squeeze with some pliers and it would be good to go for another few years.
dlethe, i will bow to your EE degree!

Its not what i was taught when i worked in a product development.

I don't think I will be plugging and unplugging the cables 500 time in an hour - maybe in a year
The other thing, if you're worried, is simply get a USB extension cable.  Odds are, you don't need a hub.

I have had USB ports go bad before, so for something that's going to be plugged in frequently to a desktop, it makes sense to have some kind of cheap insurance.