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External Hard Drives - What's Your Favorite

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Hi all,

I'm in the market for a External Hard Drive to backup my entire system. Where should I can go to view current independent comparison and rating information on whats out there.

Thanks alot in advance for any input :whistling:

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    motto - Just get-er-done

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I prefer to build my external drives from kits. That way when a HD dies you just replace it. Its also a lot cheaper when you can buy a 160 Gig HD on sale for $30-50 after rebates and then buy a $20 external kit.


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Hey need2no. There are occasionally some good deals on "prebuilt" harddrives, but typically I'm a bigger fan of using an internal drive and external enclosure like SRX660 is. A couple reasons being personal preference, upgradeability of harddrive; replace one or the other instead on buying a whole new one when something fails, and so on. It isn't hard or complicated at all, but I'm going to make it look that way:

First off, make sure you get your harddrive from a good name, whether it's an internal drive for an external enclosure, or an all-in-one external drive. I strongly recommend Western Digital or Seagate. As far as reviews you can find them pretty much anywhere! Huge companies, very reliable, great customer support especially Seagate.

Second of all, it's no fun transferring a lot of large files over USB 1.1 (such as a whole harddrive!). I would STRONGLY recommend a USB 2.0 (or firewire if you get a compatible external enclosure) connection so make sure you have one :whistling:

For your backup, look into an IDE -> USB type of connection or the whole external enclosure.

AMS VENUS cases are the best hard drive enclosures I have used, you can find some consumer reviews at newegg. There are many reviews from bigger companies as well, google "ams venus" reviews:

IDE USB 2.0:


They tend to be a bit more expensive than some others you can find, but they are designed well, have reliable chipsets, and keep the drives cool w/ an 80mm fan. Remember this is a harddrive that's going in there with a lot of your data so it's a good investment as much as a reliable harddrive from a good name. I have seen a couple hdds die in other enclosures that couldn't cool the drive or had a chipset that didn't play nice.

If you want to search for more the key words are "external enclosure"

Look out for the size:
2.5": fits laptop harddrives (pros: smaller, less heat, more portable, doesn't need ac power to run. Cons: more expensive, less disk space)
3.5": fits standard desktop internal hdds. Best value for their price. They can get a bit hot at times so I recommend getting an external snclosure with a fan, like the AMS Venus cases do.
5.25": fits CD/DVD ROM drives not harddrives. a LONG time ago harddrives were 5.25" but don't worry about them

I'm almost sure that the 3.5 drives will be best to use for your backups.

and the internal connection between external enclosure and harddrive:
IDE: This is an older connection, there are honestly no cons aside from the fact that manufacturers may ditch IDE over the years.
SATA: newer, smaller, higher bandwidth cable (but barely any faster drives than IDE)

Whatever ends up cheaper will be fine, with an edge to SATA because it's more "future-proof." Of course there's also USB and firewire, which would be the external connection between your comp and harddrive.

Aside form whole enclosures there are IDE/SATA to USB adapters which may be some of the cheapest/simplest, make sure you get one with a power supply/adapter. I haven't tried any but heres a short list of them:


Finally this last bit doesn't have much to do with external harddrives at all, but backing up. Do you already have an idea of how you'll be backing up your data? You can do a whole system backup such as with Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image. I've never had a reason to use neither, besides, the software costs money XD They can, however be very useful. They can take an "image" or a snapshot of everything on your drive and save it elsewhere such as on your external hdd. You can restore your drive by using the software and that "image." However, simple file copying will be adequate for most people's backups and is free. I just wish some would find backing up as important as you do. You don't always realize it until disaster strikes, and there's a good chance that it could. A backup can be priceless.

I hope any of that helps :blink:

Edited by MNOB07, 15 August 2006 - 03:46 PM.

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I like the maxtor one touch series that comes with the software that lets you back up everything you want/need in a touch of a button they come in various sizes and are stackable. It is a bit expensive but some like the simplicity of it as a back up drive. good reveiw sites pcmag.com cnet.com tomshardware.com driverhaven.com maximumpc.com
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