We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Best 2TB "USB powered" External Hard Drive?

bncloud
bncloud asked
on
1,797 Views
Last Modified: 2012-05-21
Seeking best USB Powered drive.  Reliability is primary requirement.  Speed is not a top req't as drive will primarily be used as alternate file storage and only seldom accessed.  Drive will primarily connect to Lenovo T410 Laptop (running Win7) with a powered USB drive - does the powered USB make a difference or give me greater options?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.  Hopefully, I can find something aroung the low $100-range on sale somewhere.
Comment
Watch Question

Top Expert 2011

Commented:
I haven't seen anything USB powered above 1TB.

Author

Commented:
If 1TB is current upper limit, then I'd appreciate it if interested members can suggest best 1TB usb powered solution.
Top Expert 2011
Commented:
This one is on us!
(Get your first solution completely free - no credit card required)
UNLOCK SOLUTION

Author

Commented:
That WD ext drive looks very small - nice.

So, the $64M question is, why were you carrying your external hdd up a ladder?
Top Expert 2011

Commented:
LOL.

I had it on top of my laptop and was accessing a media room that ran projectors. It happened to be up a ladder.

The HD slipped off the laptop and dangled by the usb cord for a split second. Then it fell to the ground.

It didn't survive, and neither did the data!
Top Expert 2011

Commented:
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
>>  Reliability is primary requirement  <<   then i would look at the enterprise range of disk drives, which are intended for 24/24 use
Maxtor :  http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/enterprise
WD : http://www.wdc.com/en/products/internal/enterprise/

you can put them in a separate usb/eSata enclosure, like the Akasa i use  :  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Akasa-Integral-enclosure-SATA-Blue/dp/B0012V4VNI
Systech AdminChief Technology Officer
CERTIFIED EXPERT

Commented:
I am using WD ext 2 TB HDD and it works great. I recommend to have it for you.
This one is on us!
(Get your first solution completely free - no credit card required)
UNLOCK SOLUTION

Author

Commented:
Well, the good news is that my Lenovo T410 has both a powered-USB (yellow) port and an eSata port.  Two question then follow:

1) does anyone know the power output delivered by the powered-USB (yellow) port?  And does this power output get me out of any potential problems, as mention above, with powering a 2.5" or 3.5" ext. HDD?

2) if I go the eSata ext HDD route, does anyone have any recommendations for best Ext HDD Options that are eSata compatible?
Um. all USB ports do power, as spec'd.  Not all eSATA did, what with it being essentially like internal SATA that use separate power connectors, eSATAp came later.

As you may know, some devices like digital music players like iPods, digital cameras, smartphones, those devices can be charged via USB, using the power on USB like a charger, and the device's charger usually has the same mini usb plug and puts out the same 5V 500mA as USB.
The Yellow powerd USB port on the laptop, the idea is you can charge your device using the laptop as a charger, even when the laptop computer is off but it's power adapter in charging the laptop.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V61tqI4LwOg
That laptop doesn't have usb 3.0

What I am recommending is, what I was saying was...
Get a drive that does both, so you can use either USB 2.0 or eSATA :)
And, ideally, has both option to power via USB, and definitely prefer one that can power off it's own AC or car adapter.
You'll find the major manufacturers (Seagate, WD) have several such models.

Here's a different brand popular with pro photographers who are Apple users who prefer firewire 800 speed over usb, http://www.elephantstorage.com/pdf/elephant2go.pdf  pg 2 you can see support for at least 2 different ports or the different models and can power either from usb/firewire or it's own AC-dc adaptor
Why both if your laptop has the much faster eSATA? ... ahh, what happens when you take your drive to a friend or desktop or laptop that doesn't have a eSATA port?  A drive with both means you'll connect to usb 2.0 as well, which is most all computers
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
to answer your question : usb ports deliver 5V at 0.5A Max = 2.5 W; so in many cases, not enough for powering disks
for Q2, i posted the disk models i recommend, and the enclosure

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all the replies so far.  Still researching my optoins.

Also, I see that my "powered" USB port (yellow) on my Lenovo T410 is actually just an 'always-on' USB port - thanks to ocanada_techguy for posting the Youtube link that cleared that up for me.  I had thought that that port actually had different power output than a traditional USB port, and that is where I was mistaken.

Author

Commented:
In followup I'm investigating the following two enclosures that have been recommended:

1. Alaska Quad Interface enclosure
http://www.akasa.com.tw/update.php?tpl=product/product.detail.tpl&no=181&type=Enclosures&type_sub=2.5%20Enclosure&model=AK-ENP2NES

Internal: 2.5” IDE and SATA HDD
External connections: eSata & USB 2
Power Consumption: After downloading & reading the PDF manual, it appears that:
(i) if in USB mode, drive requires connection to two USB ports to generate sufficient power
(ii) if in eSata mode, drive requires connection to one USB port (for power) in addition to eSata port
(not clear to me yet, but appears DC power only available via USB/eSata ports (ie no AC power converter supplied)


2. Elephant2Go
http://www.elephantstorage.com/go.php

I was only able to find this for sale at Carbon Computing in multiple locations across Canada
http://www.carbonation.com/sales/index.html

Several models available, but not clear yet whether there is an eSata + USB model available in a 2.5" formfactor.  Attempting to contact Carbon to determine.
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
i would not use the alaska - since it has no separate power sup
nor the elephant - same reason
the one i suggested is for a 3.5 " drive - is that a problem ?
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
the case dimensions are : 21.5 x3 x12 cm

Author

Commented:
I see, you're recommending the Integral P2SATA
http://www.akasa.com.tw/update.php?tpl=product/product.detail.tpl&no=181&type=Enclosures&type_sub=3.5%20Enclosure&model=AK-ENP2SATA-BK

Internal:  3.5" IDE and SATA HDD
Exteranl:  eSATA and USB 2.0 (1.1 compatible)
Power:  DC input 5V , 12V DC (power adapter)

1.  Can I run a 2.5" drive in the enclosure and then power it solely from USB?  Or, is power adapter req'd in any case?

2.  If power adapter req'd, my preferred req'ts are for a USB (or eSata) powered drive only.
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
1. yes, any sata drive- for IDE you nee an adapter plug
2. if so, check how much Watts or Amps it consumes, and verify it in device manager>properties>energy settings (i avoid them)
The elephant "2go" are 2.5" and yes they accept a separate AC-DC power adapter (see the round DC input, that's it's purpose) and also alternately powered by usb/firewire and come in several combinations such as USB/Fire400, USB/Fire800 and... USB/eSATA :)

Something you cannot find in the small portable WD My Passport Essential, or SE, or slightly larger Elements or SE, they've only USB 2.0+3.0.  
You will find that Seagate's Freeagent Go-Flex Ultra-portable have a switchable base you can swap-out so you can upgrade to eSATA in addition to USB 2.0/3.0  http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/external/external-hard-drive/portable-hard-drive  There's 1TB and 1.5TB but no 2TB.  The powered Go-Flex eSATA base on that page states that it requires eSATAp (ie 1 combo USB/eSATA port) but as best I can find the Lenovo T410 1 eSATA port is not combo eSATA/USB nor eSATAp powered.

I think you'll prefer eSATA for communication so the drive will be approx three and a half times faster on a bus that has 7 times the max speed (but one drive won't go that fast, unless you were talking very expensive SSD (solid state drives))  But I could be wrong, you might be perfectly happy with the USB 2.0 speed limitation.

on the dual USBs of the Alaska thing, no I doubt it's tandeming the usb to provide sufficient power, especially when you consider that same one if communicating eSATA gets its power from only one usb, no, I suspect what is happening is one usb mini socket is just for power, and one usb mini socket is for communication.  And besides which, you say it's for 2.5" drives, so wouldn't need more power like 3.5" drives would.  

I've seen twin usb on enclosure or Y adapters that people think is going to get them more power but it doesn't, it merely facilitates using an AC-DC 5V wall adapter with a mini usb plug that can put out more than 500mA being plugged into the lightning-bolt side of the Y.  It's not a Y at all, it'AS I've tested the leads and the pins for power run from one, the pins for communication from the other, isolated.

Remember, most all 2.5" laptop-sized hard drives will have lower power consumption within what usb can provide.  Of course, they're designed to run in a laptop and use less juice as laptop buyers  like long not short battery life.  You'll pay more for laptop-sized 2.5" drives for that reason, miniturization, etc but keep in mind capacities are generally smaller too so 1TB can be found, 2TB will be quite a premium.
On the other hand 3.5" hard drives can be more bang for buck, if bulkier to tote around, cheaper larger faster, 2TB are more common and 3TB are beginning to, BUT require more power so CANNOT meet your requirement of being usb 2.0 powered (usb 3.0 maybe, but you don't have that).

You originally stated 2TB and USB powered.  If you decide instead you're ok plugging into a wall or using a DC car/boat/plane cigarette lighter adapter, then 3.5" opens up to you.

Or, you could just buy the Sabrent USB 2.0 to IDE/SATA Cable for 2.5-Inch/ 3.5-Inch / 5.25-Inch Drive with Power Adapter for $20  http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2329300&CatId=3770  no enclosure, and be careful not to touch the exposed drive's electronics, yikes.  Suitable for bench work but not really adviseable for travel.  Something like Thermaltake or Ultra ULT40326 Hard Drive Dock
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/category/category_slc.asp?CatId=2785&srkey=hard%20drive%20dock 
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3516746&CatId=2785 
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4143852&CatId=2785
would let you drop in any SATA drive (it just so happens the connectors for comm and power on all 3.5" and 2.5" SATA drives are identical)
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
yes- but are those disks enterprise range?
remebmber he posted :  "  Reliability is primary requirement  "
Excellent point @nobus!

Mainly @bncloud this question should be worth 1250pts, haha, because you're asking for the moon and man has barely achieved orbit yet, you want your gold to be made of platinum.  Even without the fact eSATA is way faster and you have that, even without usb 3.0 is almost as fast and increased power by 80% but you don't have usb 3.0.... at 500GB capacity you've many usb 2.0 powered choices, at 2TB capacity, nope.  In the near future doubtless laptop HD capacities and SSDs will obey Moore's law, just not today.

Reliability.  Perhaps you mean which are the most reliable of the consumer class drives out there, as in which are the "best" as your question I believe intended.  It comes down to the exact model.  While WesternDigital and Seagate and Iomega have great models, some models are lemons.

For beyond consumer and majority of business desktops and laptops into the IT server room enterprise class, well... what we're calling enterprise class mainly refers to drives that would have self-correction, such as ECC, CRC error correction (not just detection) and bad block automapping.  Also enterprise class can refer to drives built of superior quality with very high load, temperature, and MTBF (mean time between failure) ratings, as in enterprise use redundancy is most often accomplished via mirroring, striping, in a RAID.
Again, you're more likely going to find such drives are most all in 3.5" form factor, not that size is an issue, there are even larger enclosures that do RAID
BUT both the 3.5" and several drives mean the "gotcha" is higher than 5Vx500mA=2.5Watts (Watts=VoltsxAmps), which leads us back to the "can't get there from here" of being USB powered they'd need own AC/DC adaptor.
Solid State SSD Drives could use less power, there are some 2.5" form factor, Apple MacBook Pro most famously, which could go in a small form-factor external enclosure and work with USB power, BUT the "gotcha" on that one is SSDs are roughly ten times as expensive AND they don't come in huge TB capacities, so wouldn't have 2TB.

Speaking of Apple, they have a patent-pending Sudden Motion Sensor which will park the drive heads to avoid head crash if it detects g-forces of a fall or physical jolt.  Some other laptop 2.5" form factor hard drives include g-force protection or anti-shock protection http://techno250gexternalharddrivehome.blogspot.com/2011/04/transcend-storejet-25-mobile-anti-shock.html  http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/Flyer/ENG/2178-701024.pdf

Performance could be another measure http://www.harddrivebenchmark.net/  http://www.harddrivebenchmark.net/hdd_value.html

And, in the end, nothing could save platters breaking from falling off a ladder except...
... having good... doing up-to-date... backups.
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
i just tried to give him the option to install the disk quality he wants..

Author

Commented:
I've been away for a few days and I'm just catching-up with the most recent comments.  Unfortunately, I thought that non-AC powered (USB, F/W, eSata) drives were further along than they are.  Re-reading through this thread and everyone's comments, I'm now contemplating a change in requirements and system setup in order to accomodate the current state of consumer product development.  This may mean accepting one of the consumer USB 2.0 options, such as the WD passport suggested, as temporary storage for remote work and travel, while relying on an enterprise-class NAS for more permanent storage for my Lenovo.  Any comments on this approach would be appreciated, and I'll be sure to follow-up here as I navigate this new path of research and decision-making.
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
imo - that will suit your needs
Intel's ThunderBolt is now appearing in Apple MacBook Pros and soon also Windows machines, and external enclosures are in stores now, for a many many pretty pennies $ (so far) though.  Intel's LightPeak technology will be coming (ThunderBolt was originally thought to be optical but they found they could get the speed on copper)  Intel has a YouTube channel you can find these demonstrated.
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
i thought my solution was worth something...
Unlock the solution to this question.
Join our community and discover your potential

Experts Exchange is the only place where you can interact directly with leading experts in the technology field. Become a member today and access the collective knowledge of thousands of technology experts.

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

OR

Please enter a first name

Please enter a last name

8+ characters (letters, numbers, and a symbol)

By clicking, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.