Portable External Drives

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Portable External Drives

dianed143@comcast.net
As a piggyback to my prior thread…. I sat down and rethought this a bit over the weekend.

Bottom line is, I have been hindered by the fact that my storage needs have increased, prices have gone down, but actual storage in my 2015 MBP has decreased due to affordability. I put my money into RAM and was only able to swing a 256gb internal, which was half the size of the drive in my 2008 MB. I feel carrying an external is a step backwards, but it’s probably all I have until my next laptop.

(which always has me thinking in the back of my mind….. when the G4 dies, do I buy a Mini for the extra storage space? Or just keep with the laptop? I think the days of a desktop always being more powerful are gone, but the SSDs have changed the landscape with pricing. But I digress….)

I am at a point in my life where I am able to be more serious about my photography. I am also working on projects where I am taking large numbers of pictures in different locations and need to be able to catalog them. I need the space and my internal drive is not it!

I started looking at smaller externals. I have used Seagate, WD and LaCie throughout the years. Most of the LaCie’s have died, but except for the last one, they lasted many many years (and most were refurbished units bought from LaCie). 2 are still going. The WD external is the newest I’ve bought and no problems with it yet (4T purchased in April). The Seagate's have all died but were covered under a 5 year warranty - one died 2 months before the warranty expired.

Two of you said to stay away from WD. One mentioned Reserved Words - can you expand on that? I had not heard that before, and I have 3.5T of info from many machines and drives backed up on it. It has taken all my files. Will I run into troubles when I need to access them due to the reserved word issue?

I looked at both Seagate and WD portable drives. The jump from 2T to 4T is minimal in price. The reviews favor WD.

I looked at the mini drive solutions for the SSD cards and while attractive, I can’t justify the price difference between that and a portable external.

I think for me at this time, cloud storage will remain for backup and sharing.

Thanks for your incredible wisdom!

Diane


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Re: Portable External Drives

John Burt


On Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 6:03 AM, Diane <[hidden email]> wrote:

Thanks for your incredible wisdom!

We have 4 G-Technology drives of various ages purchased from smalldogelectronics.com. The drives are only ON when a backup is being made. Two are stored in a fireproof safe between uses. Three are smaller 1TB drives used to make clones and one is a partitioned 4TB for a clone and incremental backups. Here's a link to their web site. I like purchasing from them because their stock is designed to work with MacOS instead of Windows. http://www.smalldog.com/category/Storage_and_Backup/External_Hard_Drives?mmfg%5B%5D=G-Technology

--
John



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Re: Portable External Drives

Alexander Forbes

On Oct 24, 2016, at 9:07 AM, SciFiOneA . <[hidden email]> wrote:

I like purchasing from them because their stock is designed to work with MacOS instead of Windows.

OWC makes the same claim for their USB drive line. I've heard plenty of very high recommendations for both SmallDog and OWC, mostly via TidBITS. I'd still be interested in learning how this common claim is substantiated.

In my experience, a drive is a drive (compatibility-wise), and if not formatted correctly for  Mac OS, Mac or Disk Utility would certainly tell us so we could reformat before using - an easy task.  I've never personally experienced a connection or throughput problem with a hard or portable drive. The USB protocol is supposed to be universally cross-platform. So what's the deal?

Alex




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Re: Portable External Drives

dianed143@comcast.net

On Oct 24, 2016, at 12:26 PM, Alexander Forbes <[hidden email]> wrote:


On Oct 24, 2016, at 9:07 AM, SciFiOneA . <[hidden email]> wrote:

I like purchasing from them because their stock is designed to work with MacOS instead of Windows.

OWC makes the same claim for their USB drive line. I've heard plenty of very high recommendations for both SmallDog and OWC, mostly via TidBITS. I'd still be interested in learning how this common claim is substantiated.

In my experience, a drive is a drive (compatibility-wise), and if not formatted correctly for  Mac OS, Mac or Disk Utility would certainly tell us so we could reformat before using - an easy task.  I've never personally experienced a connection or throughput problem with a hard or portable drive. The USB protocol is supposed to be universally cross-platform. So what's the deal?

I have purchased from both Small Dog and OWC for many years. I actually bought the larger internal kit for my 2008 unibody from OWC. In recent years, I’ve seen their prices creep up though so my purchases with them have gotten less frequent.

Alex, I too have never had an issue with a drive that isn’t Mac-only. It’s something I’ve stopped worrying about over the years. Maybe it was a little more important in the early days?

Diane




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Re: Portable External Drives

Richard Rettke
In reply to this post by Alexander Forbes

On 24 Oct 2016, at 11:26, Alexander Forbes [hidden email] wrote:

In my experience, a drive is a drive (compatibility-wise), and if not formatted correctly for  Mac OS, Mac or Disk Utility would certainly tell us so we could reformat before using - an easy task.  I've never personally experienced a connection or throughput problem with a hard or portable drive. The USB protocol is supposed to be universally cross-platform. So what's the deal?

Agreed! I always reformat them anyway and run some overnight diagnostics. But a drive is a drive is a drive. So long as the interface is compatible (i.e. USB) they work! Personally I think the 'claim' that they are designed for Mac is just a marketing ploy to command a potentially higher price. They do however probably fill a need for those who are not tech savvy and either don't realize they can format them themselves or are too timid to attempt it.

Richard Rettke
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Re: Portable External Drives

Neil Laubenthal
In reply to this post by Alexander Forbes
On Oct 24, 2016, at 12:26 PM, Alexander Forbes <[hidden email]> wrote:

In my experience, a drive is a drive (compatibility-wise)…So what's the deal?

Your experience is right…a drive is a drive. I too buy from OWC but that’s because I like their cases generally.


-----------------------------------------------
There are only three kinds of stress; your basic nuclear stress, cooking stress, and A$$hole stress. The key to their relationship is Jello.

neil






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Re: Portable External Drives

Ryoichi Morita-2
If you’re looking for a SSD, Costco has a portable 512GB SSD for around $150. Or you can easily build your own by buying an internal SSD and getting a case for it for a few bucks on eBay. 

Ryoichi Morita



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Re: Portable External Drives

Roger Henriques
In reply to this post by dianed143@comcast.net
I think the ‘early days’ comment is correct. I did see a USB external drive that was purchased from (I think) Best Buy about 10 years ago (not by me, but by a friend who relies on me for tech support) that could NOT be made Mac bootable, although it was Mac read/write. The partiton map could not be changed to GUID in Disc Utility.

More recently, I have bought lots of inexpensive external USB drives for various uses with no problems.

Roger H.
[hidden email]

> On 24-10-2016, at 12:30 PM, Diane <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Alex, I too have never had an issue with a drive that isn’t Mac-only. It’s something I’ve stopped worrying about over the years. Maybe it was a little more important in the early days?




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Re: Portable External Drives

Rodney
In reply to this post by Richard Rettke

On Oct 24, 2016, at 18:36, Richard Rettke <[hidden email]> wrote:

Agreed! I always reformat them anyway and run some overnight diagnostics. But a drive is a drive is a drive. So long as the interface is compatible (i.e. USB) they work! Personally I think the 'claim' that they are designed for Mac is just a marketing ploy to command a potentially higher price. They do however probably fill a need for those who are not tech savvy and either don't realize they can format them themselves or are too timid to attempt it.

OK, this is a hardware issue, and I’m a software person, and what I know about the subject goes back many years, so don’t try to win a bar bet with any of it.

However, as best I can recall, there is nothing that requires anybody to implement the full USB protocol in their drive firmware, and after all, USB is just SCSI on steroids.

In the early days of external drives, almost all of them required a driver installation. One drive in particular, whose name I can’t recall, required not only a driver installation but a reboot, and you had to leave the installation CD in the drive during the reboot or the installation would fail and screw up royally. The Amazon reviews for that drive were endless sources of entertainment. The thing that attracted me to WD drives back then was that they worked fine with generic drivers for Windows or Mac.

So, it is quite possible that LaCie or OWC is doing a more complete and/or robust implementation of the USB protocol in their drive firmware. I can’t say for sure.



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Re: Portable External Drives

dianed143@comcast.net
In reply to this post by Roger Henriques

> On Oct 24, 2016, at 12:51 PM, Roger Henriques <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I think the ‘early days’ comment is correct. I did see a USB external drive that was purchased from (I think) Best Buy about 10 years ago (not by me, but by a friend who relies on me for tech support) that could NOT be made Mac bootable, although it was Mac read/write. The partiton map could not be changed to GUID in Disc Utility.
>
> More recently, I have bought lots of inexpensive external USB drives for various uses with no problems.


If it was still an issue, I suspect all those cheap flash drives wouldn’t work in our beloved machines either! :)

Diane


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Re: Portable External Drives

Alexander Forbes
In reply to this post by dianed143@comcast.net

On Oct 24, 2016, at 9:30 AM, Diane <[hidden email]> wrote:

Alex, I too have never had an issue with a drive that isn’t Mac-only. It’s something I’ve stopped worrying about over the years. Maybe it was a little more important in the early days?

Diane

If so, it's been a VERY long time ... I seem to recollect that was raised as an issue too. Early into System 7 Macs, I started upgrading my Macs with more or larger drives. That was back when the Moore's Law clock ticked another tenfold about every other month. I don't recall worrying about "compatibility" because I formatted them back then anyway. If I recall, they were IDE back then, with a really finicky set-up procedure where the last drive in the chain had to be marked with a terminator jumper across the 0 or 1 pin. If you forgot, or jumped the wrong connector, few or none of them would work, or they would work sometimes and inexplicably go offline. But as long as the drive was IDE, it worked.

Alex



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Re: Portable External Drives

dianed143@comcast.net

On Oct 24, 2016, at 12:59 PM, Alexander Forbes <[hidden email]> wrote:


On Oct 24, 2016, at 9:30 AM, Diane <[hidden email]> wrote:

Alex, I too have never had an issue with a drive that isn’t Mac-only. It’s something I’ve stopped worrying about over the years. Maybe it was a little more important in the early days?

Diane

If so, it's been a VERY long time ... I seem to recollect that was raised as an issue too. Early into System 7 Macs, I started upgrading my Macs with more or larger drives. That was back when the Moore's Law clock ticked another tenfold about every other month. I don't recall worrying about "compatibility" because I formatted them back then anyway. If I recall, they were IDE back then, with a really finicky set-up procedure where the last drive in the chain had to be marked with a terminator jumper across the 0 or 1 pin. If you forgot, or jumped the wrong connector, few or none of them would work, or they would work sometimes and inexplicably go offline. But as long as the drive was IDE, it worked.

And you needed the special cable. Yep, I remember that too.

I used SCSI externally and they were just as fussy!

Diane



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Re: Portable External Drives

John Burt
In reply to this post by Alexander Forbes


On Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 9:26 AM, Alexander Forbes <[hidden email]> wrote:

OWC makes the same claim for their USB drive line. I've heard plenty of very high recommendations for both SmallDog and OWC, mostly via TidBITS. I'd still be interested in learning how this common claim is substantiated.

I don't know what OWC is. Sorry. Smalldog is a vendor of other manufacturers products.

--
John



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Re: Portable External Drives

Richard Rettke
In reply to this post by Rodney

On 24 Oct 2016, at 11:57, Rodney [hidden email] wrote:

However, as best I can recall, there is nothing that requires anybody to implement the full USB protocol in their drive firmware, and after all, USB is just SCSI on steroids.

SCSI was actually a parallel interface and with that came all the issues of timing and termination, not to mention they were not hot swappable (many a drive or controller card or even entire computers got fried by not powering down before unplugging or plugging in a drive).

USB is a serial interface which eliminates the timing and termination issues and is designed to be hot swappable.

Anyone need a box of SCSI terminators?

In the early days of external drives, almost all of them required a driver installation. One drive in particular, whose name I can’t recall, required not only a driver installation but a reboot, and you had to leave the installation CD in the drive during the reboot or the installation would fail and screw up royally. The Amazon reviews for that drive were endless sources of entertainment. The thing that attracted me to WD drives back then was that they worked fine with generic drivers for Windows or Mac.

So, it is quite possible that LaCie or OWC is doing a more complete and/or robust implementation of the USB protocol in their drive firmware. I can’t say for sure.

I think the biggest reason to go with OWC for example is that they offer enclosures with multiple interfaces, Whereas the manufacturers (Toshiba, Seagate, etc.) generally only have one interface (USB). I found having the multiple interfaces very convenient especially as the world transitioned from Firewire to USB. I still have tow Firewire enclosures running via a Thunderbolt interface.

Now that USB 3 has become my defacto standard I find no reason to purchase drives/enclosures with multiple interfaces (until the next big change comes along).

Richard Rettke
Laus Deo
Non sibi sed patriae

https://about.me/rerettke




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Re: Portable External Drives

Dr Digby L. James
In reply to this post by John Burt
> I don't know what OWC is.

Other World Computing, www.macsales.com.

They have a great range of DIY videos showing how to upgrade Macs.

Dr Digby L. James
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Re: Portable External Drives

Rodney
In reply to this post by Richard Rettke

On Oct 24, 2016, at 19:21, Richard Rettke <[hidden email]> wrote:

SCSI was actually a parallel interface and with that came all the issues of timing and termination, not to mention they were not hot swappable (many a drive or controller card or even entire computers got fried by not powering down before unplugging or plugging in a drive).

You’re talking hardware, and you’re correct. That’s the physical implementation. That has nothing to do with the protocol the computer and drive use in order to talk to one another.

For the protocol, the bits and bytes that get swapped between a computer and an external device, the USB protocol is a superset of SCSI. I don’t know if it is still true, but when I was playing with Linux, if you hooked up a USB drive to it, the drive would show up as a SCSI drive.

According to a friend several years ago who was writing firmware at the time, “You hook up a logic analyzer and watch the frames go by, and you’ll have a hard time telling SCSI from USB.” It is how much of the USB protocol is implemented, and how well it is implemented, that will determine how machine independent a particular hard drive will be.

Now that USB 3 has become my defacto standard I find no reason to purchase drives/enclosures with multiple interfaces (until the next big change comes along).

Same here. I also generally buy Windows formatted drives and reformat them using Disk Utility because they seem to be cheaper than the equivalent Mac formatted drives.



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Re: Portable External Drives

Alexander Forbes
In reply to this post by John Burt

On Oct 24, 2016, at 10:13 AM, SciFiOneA . <[hidden email]> wrote:

I don't know what OWC is. Sorry. Smalldog is a vendor of other manufacturers products.





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