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Old Apr 10, 2011, 6:52 AM   #11
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For what it's worth I have had a Western Digtal 1tb Ex hard drive for three years now.
so far so good ,no complaints.
I dont know if it's significant but it has rubber shock protection wrapped around each end.
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Old Apr 12, 2011, 1:59 PM   #12
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The nice thing about a USB external drive is that it is unplugged and off except for a few minutes backing up your data each day or week. Even if the MTBF is less than an interal drive, you will have a happy long drive life to look forward to.
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Old Apr 12, 2011, 2:05 PM   #13
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are you looking for a travel size or one you can leave at home? I would seriously consider a usb 3 model. As that will be the new standard. And they are backward compatible to usb 2 systems. And when it is time to upgrade the computer, you will have the new standard ready to go
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Old Apr 12, 2011, 10:41 PM   #14
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Thank you everyone for the great advice, I'm looking into WD or Seagate. Looking for a good deal on one now !
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Old Apr 13, 2011, 2:18 AM   #15
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For external drives it's important whether you want a USB-powered drive or one that takes a power supply. I have both types - two mains-powered Seagate drives, one mains-powered WD drive (each 2tb), and six WD My Passport USB-powered drives (mostly 1tb). Where I live the power supply is sometimes erratic, so I prefer a USB-powered drive.

But USB-powered drives use 2.5" laptop drives, whereas most main-powered drives use 3.5" desktop drives. The latter last far longer.

When I'm depending on an external hard drive for backup of important data I always operate a grandfather-father-son regime, with every item of data held in three different places. If there's a catastrophic power failure during a backup process it's quite possible to lose both disks, so I always have a third copy of the same data that's not being accessed. Whenever an external disk isn't actually being written to or read from it is powered down and disconnected from the computer and all other drives/hubs. A power surge can take out anything connected at the time, whether or not it's actually in use.

It might possibly make sense to use a second internal disk in a desktop computer as backup, except that it's always connected so remains vulnerable. It makes absolutely no sense to use a second disk in a laptop for backup (assuming it's physically possible with your laptop), as they're both susceptible to being banged around when they're running.

Living in a place with a dubious power supply AND having a lot of important data makes me very sensitive to the issues around backups. I once lost all three copies of an extremely important file, and I'm determined that can never happen again. Hard drives are so cheap nowadays it's much easier than it was to safeguard your data.
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Old Apr 13, 2011, 2:24 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadshot View Post
For what it's worth I have had a Western Digtal 1tb Ex hard drive for three years now
I had a WD 500gb USB-powered drive fail catastrophically a short while ago, even though it lived on my desk and was never moved. My policy with laptop internal drives is to replace them at 18 months old even if they're still working properly - even then some will fail beforehand.

I just bought my first Mac laptop. Does anyone know if the internal drive is physically the same as that fitted to a Windows laptop? Because I have spares for the latter but as yet none for the former.
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Old Apr 13, 2011, 7:40 AM   #17
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That's a good strategy for using external hard disk drives, but it's a misuse of the term "grandfather-father-son". That term is used to refer to backup strategies using multiple removeable media, usually tapes, where some media are used for long term storage (quarterly, for instance, and are the "grandfather'), other media are used for intermediate storage (monthly or "father"), and still other media are used for short term storage (weekly or "son"). So, in that example, for every "grandfather" there would be two "fathers", and for every "father" there would be three "sons". That strategy works very well, but presumes more than just three media, and so uses inexpensive media like tapes or rewiteable optical disks. Using external hard disk drives in a "grandfather-father-son" scheme would be prohibitively expensive, not to mention unwieldly.

Also, if you're using USB or Firewire external hard disk drives, you need to remember that the bandwith is based on the controller, not the device. Ideally, each device would be connected to it's own controller (Generally, each port on a computer has it's own controller.), but if you don't have that luxury, and need to use hubs, then, since only one device can talk at a time, the bandwith of a controller must be divided among all the devices on the hub it's connected to. So if you've got all three of your external HDDs connected to the same controller (via a hub), then each HDD only has access to 1/3 the controller's bandwith, even if the others are inactive. If all you're using them for is for backup and restore, it's not a big deal, but if you're using them for on-line storage, things can get bogged down quickly.
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Old Apr 13, 2011, 9:40 AM   #18
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Yes. I'm not concerned (here) with bandwidth though. I don't know what USB controllers my Toshiba has, but I have three USB ports and I'm pretty sure two of them are on the same controller - performance really drops off if I try to use those two for heavy data throughput at the same time.

I used to use the term grandfather-father-son years ago (I was a computing professional) in the sense you describe and I know I was mis-using it a bit. But my usage of the term now is the most useful for modern personal computing. They're not really three generations, but three siblings of the same generation.
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Old Apr 13, 2011, 10:22 AM   #19
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To the OP, sure get a USB drive and use it to backup your files regularly. I use synctoy from microsoft, but you may have a better software solution. I only update new/changed files. This will protect against data loss from internal drive failure pretty well. But it will do nothing for loss from fire/theft or even your own mistakes.

After a bit, get another drive and make it your off-site backup. update it infrequently and store it at somebody else's house. Personally I would buy a couple for this purpose and update one of them every few months. Alternating between the drives. That way, if you accidently ruin a file on your computer and do a local backup, you can still retrieve it from your off-site drive. Don't take that opportunity to "update" the off-site drive. It's purpose is to provide a time-based backup.

This simple method should do for most folk. If you're a pro and need to have backups for several years, well, your routine will need to be more complete. more drives, a schedule for backing up and re-use. and of course testing. most of us never test our backups. generally, that'll be ok.
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Old Apr 13, 2011, 11:01 AM   #20
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Quote:
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most of us never test our backups. generally, that'll be ok.
I beg to disagree. I know of a business in Dallas that had a sophisticated backup system that appeared to meet all their needs. Unfortunately it used data formats that became incompatible with the main machine, so that when they had a disaster and needed to resort to their backup they found they couldn't read it. Took them several days to find a work-around, during which time their business losses were massive.

In fact evolution of data storage media is the biggest problem there is with advancing technology. How many people still have LPs but nothing to play them on? How many people have changed from one personal organiser to another and found no way to migrate their data? I have copious live recordings made on DAT, but how many people have DAT machines? Or VHS machines to play the numerous VHS tapes many still have? The list goes on. It may be inconceivable at present, but the day may come soon when the CD goes the way of the Philips compact audio cassette - then what happens to your music collection? Actually, mentioning the compact audio cassette, I have maybe a thousand recorded tapes - you try to buy a decent audio cassette machine (or indeed ANY audio cassette machine).
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