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Thread: Hard drive recommendations?

  1. #1
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    Hard drive recommendations?

    My Western Digital Terrabyte World Book went south tonight so I need to replace it before disaster strikes again. What does everyone else use? Reliability is my number one criteria for the backup purposes that this drive will be dedicated to. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    I've had good luck with Western Digital and Seagate mechanisms, not so good with Maxtor; those are the only brand names with which I've had any significant experience.

    I also had a WD MyBook go out, and I suspect that the problem was the case. After the drive died I took it apart, and found that the case and chassis had a place to install a fan... but no fan is used. I think this omission lets too much heat build up inside the case, so for backup purposes I try to buy drives that have fans -- not so easy to find anymore, and not always easy to tell by looking whether the case uses a fan or not!

    An alternative is to buy a fan-cooled case separately and then buy bare drive mechanisms to put in it. What I'm using now is a case with a door and rails that let you slide in a bare SATA drive mechanism. This makes it easier to rotate your backup media, which is important since no drive lasts forever regardless of brand.

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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    I've used IBM, Hitachi, and Seagate with great success and low failure rates in most of the PC's I've built over the last 15 yrs or so (when I was actually into Windows machines.) I use a Lacie for my backup drive but I've only oned it for a few months so I can't speak on reliability yet. I got it though because it was one of the few models of external drives with Firewire 800, 400, eSATA, and USB 2.0 with a 7200 RPM.
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    Senior Member bradhusick's Avatar
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    All drives can fail and usually do at the worst times. Why not try a Drobo with 4 drives? If any fail, pop in a new one and the data is rebuilt safely.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    Drives are pretty inexpensive now. I like WD's and Seagates --- I have my Mac Pro stuffed with WD's and my DROBO filled with Seagates. Starting over today, I might not bother with the DROBO and just use 2-drive boxes backed up directly to another 2-drive box... But the DROBO is certainly easy and convenient
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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    Drives really are perishable goods. I've had 6 (six!) drives failed or failing in the last two months. (Some of those were up to five years old, and admittedly one of them was with me in Australia for 12 months, bouncing around on rutted dirt roads). I will never trust a single drive for more than short term storage.

    If you look at what Google has published re its own experience of drive reliability, there aren't really good and bad brands, but rather good and bad production batches.

    That said, a slower running drive like the WD Green (5400RPM) and Seagate LP (5900RPM) might have a better chance of surviving longer. Unless the manufacturer skimped on the bearings of course.

    I now have two WG Green drives (1 + 1.5TB) they run cool and are fast despite slower rotation - transfer rate peaks at 90MB/sec. Power draw is lower.

    My recommmendations:
    - Avoid buying more than one drive from the same batch and put in raid or mirrored storage. Same batch means they are more likely to fail at approx the same time. Instead, get the drives from different sources, or one at a time.
    - Don't get higher performance drives than you need. WD Green is fine for NAS even with gigabit network.
    - Never trust a drive with more than a few days' work.
    - Desktop drives are NOT like laptop drives, they are much more sensitive to G forces while running. NEVER move a desktop drive that is running.

    If you really want high quality drives - and are willing to pay - then look at Seagate ES series. They are 50% more expensive than mainstream drives but seem rock solid. A friend of mine has been running ES for several years in a server room, hundreds of drives not a single failure. The higher price is probably worth it even cost-wise, given that cheaper drives are more likely to fail.

    Also - if you want to test and maintain drivers, there's a software called Spinrite that is great for checking and maintaining drives. Just be aware that drive surface checking is a lengthy process - a full surface reconditioning of a 1 TB drive can take 50-100 hours.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    Fwiw, Maxtor is owned by Seagate.

    As far as drive reliability goes, I used the same HD from 1998 until I took the machine down in 2007 -- pulled the drive and tossed it into a box in case I need to go back and get any data off of it.

    The machine that I built in 2007 is RAID'd with Maxtor drives -- 2 of the 4 have failed (months apart), both replaced at no charge (warranty) and no data lost (RAID). Replacing failed drives is a pain in the ... even if it doesn't cost anything.

    Sorry, no recommendation on what to buy, perhaps as Jack and Lars suggest, redundant backing up of data to different drives is more important that what drive you are backing up to.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    After several near-calamitous events combined with a signed agreement with my biggest client that includes a backup strategy, I started a policy that includes an external RAID and a once-a-year minimum for drive replacement. Drives are cheap and while a fresh drive is still no guarantee it won't fail, it does give a degree of peace of mind.

    Also, by replacing the drives annually, you start to get a good sense for the size of drive you really need. Having too much capacity always made me feel like I had to fill them, resulting in using them longer and increasing the odds of a failure. Now I just buy the storage I typically use and replace them more frequently. I have a bunch of drives in a safety deposit box at my bank.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post
    All drives can fail and usually do at the worst times. Why not try a Drobo with 4 drives? If any fail, pop in a new one and the data is rebuilt safely.
    This is why I like the Drobo . It happened to me about 2 months ago and lost a drive but did not lose one file in all of it. There slow but i feel pretty comfortable now after that failure of one drive. I did get a 1tb drive and just put all my raws in it for a just in case my office burns down.

    I like the Seagates and the WD drives
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  10. #10
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    Hi -

    The poster who recommended the RAID: +1

    WD, at least, makes raid-specific drives that basically have the bearings and whatnot from their higher-level SCSI drives for corporate use and are rated to have a MTBF significantly higher than their "normal" counterparts. Cost a few <insert currency unit here> more than the regular drives, but are the cat's meow for any raids.

    I have two running as a RAID 1, each 400 GB for a total of 800 GB that is extremely fast (and extremely dangerous: one drive dies, everything disappears!) as a scratch disk for video work, which is disk i/o dependent. They're backed up regularly (daily, actually) to a terabyte external from WD that exists for only that purpose...but since they're used really as a temporary storage medium, it's okay.

    JohnF

  11. #11
    meilicke
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    RAID 1 (mirror) or raid5/6 is a great idea.

    A bit off topic, but still relevant to keeping your data safe, consider offsite data protection like CrashPlan, which replicates data from one computer to another in different locations. With Crashplan, you have to pay for the computer you are protecting, but not the one that is the target of the data. Depending upon the version, the data are protected almost in real-time. All of the versions offer 256bit AES encryption, so that the target can be a friend, office computer, etc., and you don't have to worry about inappropriate access to your data. There other programs that do similar things, more or less.

    Scott

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    DROBO is an automatic RAID-5 unit. So you are rock-solid gold if you have a working image array backed up to DROBO. However, given you should have yet a third back-up copy stored offsite to avoid physical loss at one location, then the need for the primary back-up to be R-5 is questionable -- it is cost-effective, but given the cost of the box itself, it might be cheaper to use simpler (cheaper) JBOD boxes and do a simple mirror (RAID-1) between them...
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    i'm leaning toward Mosey for online back-up. any comments on this strategy?

  14. #14
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    Just remember that RAID (mirror or 5), while great for onsite storage, is not a backup. A backup strategy is a must, and something like mozy/crashplan/<insert your favorite offsite software here> can work well. Keep in mind with offsite software how long a restore would take.

    -Scott

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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    jlm I have used Mozy for several months now but find it to be very inaccurate when it specifies how many GB you have backed up. It is also slow going but unless you use the scheme that Crashplan has you cannot avoid this.

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    I'm really not a great fan of regular RAID 5 for personal use where storage needs usually expands over time. Once the array is full all drives will have to be replaced to increase capacity, PLUS you need somewhere to store the data while you upgrade AND a second copy to keep the data safe. So to be safe you need more or less 3x used storage plus new drives. I'm in the process of selling my Netgear ReadyNAS boxes now.

    Some manufacturers have workarounds for this - DROBO, Netgear (later NAS products), probably others.

    I'm currently giving Windows Home Server a try - I needed a Windows-based server for other tasks as well, and WHS is based on Server 2003. WHS is more of a storage solution than raid, with managed folder duplication and a flexible array of volumes that can be added or replaced at any time. So far so good - we'll see if it gains my trust over time.

    And as Scott points out - having a snapshot backup stored off-site is vitally important, protecting against catastrophy and theft, as well as pure user mistakes.
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    Thanks everyone for your help. I am going to replace the WD with a later raid 1 model and then use Crashplan to backup online dumping Mozy who have not gotten the job done for me at all. Crashplan offers a a 1 TB seeding option which I will use to get the bulk of my photos in one fell swoop to them and then just upload the changes or new photos as they are taken. I will be able to minimize the heat load to the external drive this way and hopefully fend off another drive failure but of course there are no guarantees. Thanks again for all the input.

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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    I just had a Seagate fail in my Drobo today. It has four 500GB drives so I think I'll go pick up two WD 1.5TB Greens tomorrow. One to replace the failed unit and one to bump capacity.

    It's currently powered off; should I power it up before swapping the failed drive or swap before powering up? Does it matter?

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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    Got two WD 1.5TB Greens ($109 ea at Central Computer SF) and swapped out the failed drive. It's rebuilding... with a 35 hour estimate! And that's just to replace one, then I'll swap out another to also increase capacity. So unless the estimate is way off it looks like it's going to be taking several days to get this done. Oh well.

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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    Woo - Drobo just finished rebuilding after replacing the first drive. I now swapped out another. I like the WD 1.5TB Greens so far - only luke warm to the touch and very quiet. The Drobo fan ran intermittently during rebuild with one Green in place, now with two it hasn't started at all. All I hear is the faint ticking of the drives, which is somewhat quieter than the clock on the wall. Kinda disconcerting that replacing two drives will leave my data unprotected for 4-5 days though. I think next time I do this I'll copy everything off, swap drives, reformat, and copy back on. That's GOT to be faster...

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    I agree, WD Greens are pretty sweet drives, probably ideal for the DROBO. In fact, I am getting close to needing to add another drive myself, and will likely upgrade to a pair of the 2TB Greens for the added capacity...

    Re rebuild time. If you have an original copy of your data, then the faster option is to simply rebuild it by direct copy of that original data. Actually, all RAID-5 arrays take longer to rebuild than a direct copy because of the extra math going on to re-construct the lost data.
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    Member John Grow's Avatar
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    Re: Hard drive recommendations?

    The studio has a DROBO-PRO with 6 WD 1TB green drives. It has been running nearly flawlessly since Feb. In the editing bays we share a DROBO with 4 Seagate 750GB drives that backup into the PRO every night.

    I am a big fan of these units and as I am a big fan of not losing client files. I heartily recommend them from the stand point of simplicity as well as the reliability.

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