Hard Drives

Started Apr 22, 2011 | Discussions thread
Wayne Larmon Veteran Member • Posts: 9,403
Excellent advice (but e-SATA didn't work for me.)

MaxTux wrote:

Hard drive brand is pretty much irrelevant: they all fail, sooner or later.

Agree. Beware of forum posters that have strong opinions that such-and-such drive brand is horrible. Unless what they are saying is backed by a long term study of 100,000+ drives, what they say is statistically meaningless. All drive manufacturers ship a few bad drives, just the same as all camera manufactures ship a few bad lenses.

What prevents the data loss is not a minuscule difference between the drive brand reliability, it's a good backup strategy .

Agree strongly. But you have to really think about details. Redundancy is easy (you need at be backing up to at least two different backup drives. With one of them preferably stored in a different location so you are protected from fire, flood, tornado, theft, etc. )

You also need to find an effective software solution. Drag-and-drop isn't it. You need to test your backup software. For starters, buy an empty drive and backup-and-restore your C: drive. The test isn't done until you are booted up and running on the 2nd drive. Alternatively, do you have everything you need to install all the software you use onto a brand new, factory fresh computer? Including any software that you downloaded? (Registration codes, etc.)

I only put Windows and my programs on my C: drive. All data goes on other drives. Data gets backed up several times a day. my C: drive only gets backed up when I've installed new programs.

Does your backup strategy protect you against subtle data corruption that you might not discover until you have gone through several cycles of backup? Do you have a strategy for detecting subtle data corruption?

You really need to think about details when implementing a good backup strategy.

Most cost-effective and reliable strategy is to use "raw" drives, not drives in USB enclosures and use external SATA to connect the drive to the computer.

One downside with this strategy is that raw drives often cost as much as drives in an enclosure these days. (Raw drives are rapidly becoming a niche retail market.) And SATA connectors aren't really designed to be connected-disconnected many times. But it can't be discounted--I use a combination of drives in enclosures and raw drives in a USB 3.0 dock.

(You will need a power source for the drive: any power unit from an old computer case will do nicely). If your desktop computer does not have an external SATA port, add a backplane connector, such as this:


Maybe. My$3,000 Dell Precision machine choked horribly when I tried using eSATA with one of those kinds of adapters. It was most decidedly not hot swappable plug-and-play: I needed to power down before attaching an eSATA drive. And again before detaching it. And drive letters on my internal drives had a tendency to change.

At least one DPReview reported that their Adobe software became deactivated when they plugged in an eSATA drive.

I am having better luck with USB 3.0. This is much faster than USB 2.0. and is plug-and-play with my computer. I use a PCI-E USB 3.0 card that came bundled with a Western Digital USB 3.0 external drive. I use a pair of WD USB 3.0 drives (one of which I store at my Mother's house), and an USB 3.0 dock for copying to a raw drive. (Supplemented by a Win XP computer that lives in my basement connected with Gigabit Ethernet that has four 1 TB drives which catches backups that run in the middle of the night. And a few more USB 2.0 drives that I rotate in-and-out of the mix.)

But e-SATA might work for you. e-SATA is faster than USB 3.0. If it works for you, then go for it. (But make sure that your first backup drive also supports USB, so you can fall back to that if e-SATA doesn't work for you.)


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