Buying external hard drive, I need to be safe and sound

Ive been asked to research the best options into buying an external hard drive for my boss.

Ive been researching the subject on multiple forums for a couple hours and have come to the conclusion that buying a good internal hard drive and a good enclousure is the best way to go.

Im happy with that idea, but on one of the many posts I went thro, I read that “you should make sure not to buy a SATA HD because its not compatible with any enclousures”.

The process sounds simple enough, but I need to be entirely sure I wont be screwing up buying the wrong stuff.

So im trying to create my checklist on needed itens and info. Ill probably settle for a Seagate HD with about 500gb, and any good aluminum enclouser.

I just need to be entirely sure of what I SHOULDNT do.
So Ive read that bit I should not buy SATA. What is the specification I want them? ATA? ATAPI? My knowledge base is very small as you can see.

Im gonna set it up to be a USB2.0 enclousure. Again, I gotta know exactly the specifications that I can use with a 3.5 enclousure (if theres anything besides not buying a SATA hd that is)


If you can wait, buy the Seagate 500GB ST3500841A-RK (retail) from, they usually drop the price to below $200 (around $160) once in a while. Currently is normal $300.

There are many external case but this one is good Plumax PM-350C2-PPSV4 slim from dealsonic for $28.99+5.99 shipping. It has PL-3507 chipset and equipped with Firewire, USB2.0 and fan. Not aluminum case but it’s very sturdy and the fan is better in dissipating heat compared to aluminum/no-fan. It comes with USB2.0 and Firewire cable also.

But, if you cant be bothered to wait, or just dont want to bother with getting a case, I can advise a Lacie D2 tripple interface extreme. Mine’s only 160gb, but its solid as a rock and i like it.

you sound like you’ve gotten some sound advice. seagates are generally very good drives and you can’t go wrong with a five year warranty.

aluminum is good at conducting heat out of the enclosure, but if you can get an enclosure with a fan, that’s probably preferable. make sure you read reviews closely on fan enclosures as some are noisier than others.

you seem to already have an idea of what drive you want. is there a total price limit or have you narrowed down a price range you’re looking to pay for the enclosure? I’m sure if you give a price range, forum members will be able to pinpoint a few good models for you to choose from. is a good place to do some browsing and read reviews.

the opposite of SATA is PATA, but many enclosures will categorize as just ATA or EIDE. basically, as long as it DOESN’T say SATA then you’re looking in the right place.

also, if you know it’s only going to be used as USB 2.0 then you can probably save a few bucks by choosing an enclosure that doesn’t have a firewire connector, but if the price isn’t much of an issue I recommend getting one with both. does your boss not have firewire ports on his computer? firewire has better transfer speeds and if your boss ever upgrades his system, he’d be better off connecting the drive via firewire.

also worth mentioning is portability…just because you’re building an external drive does not automatically make it portable. if your boss plans on bringing it home and to work every day or taking it on business trips to have access to his data, then you definitely won’t want to skimp on the case. look for something pretty rugged and tough looking.

Here is a fantastic place to look for Enclosures:

Apart from Seagate, are there any other reliable brands that you can recommend?

You will likely hear many opinions, and all manufacturers will have a small chance of failure. Personally, I have used Western Digital drives without problem for many years. The only one I hever had go bad was way back when large drives were 2GB, and I leave my computer on 24/7. I would recommend going with an WD OEM drive (3 year warranty vs. 1 year on retail) if you don’t go with Seagate.

Cooling is very important, especially if the drive is going to be left on in an external enclosure. The AMS Venus line includes a unique design that allows for an 80mm fan to blow on the HD. It is very quiet, likely to be barely, if at all audiable over the noise of the computer. The tray the drive sits on is plastic, but the fan keeps my 160GB WD SE drive warm to the touch (and this drive can get blistering hot).
3 versions at newegg

I have the USB 2.0/Firewire combo version.

Samsung has been the most reliable for me. Not saying they are the best but i haven’t had any failures yet with them. :cool: Have fingers crossed now. :doh:

[B]This is very important, last few moments to get restitution due to Western Digital’s opting to settle in the class action lawsuit against them !![/B]

[B]The deadline is July 17th. For those who have purchased WD disk drives, fill out this applciation immediately and it will go on WD’s system immediately. They can tell by the serial number of the unit whether it is valid or not !![/B]


Here is the information on the Western Digital Lawsuit and settlement.

Here is the bottom line which is meaningful to peons like myself in the "In the “AMENDED AND RESTATED CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT”

[B]"Because it is not technologically possible, the proposed Settlement does not call for capacity to be added to Class Member’s hard disk drives. But the proposed settlement will provide each Class Member with free backup and recovery software that can be used in conjunction with his/her hard disk drive. Based on Class Counsel’s investigation of the retail market for backup and recovery software, Class Counsel believes that this software is comparable to products that retail for $30 or more, and that in light of the risks of litigation, providing this software adequately compensates class members for the loss that Class Counsel believe they suffered in allegedly not getting the capacity promised in Defendant’s advertisements. "[/B]

The attorneys who took the case against WD will get a nift $500,000 for their time, paid for by WD.

Here is the entire settlement information. It has to do with Western Digital misrepresenting how much disk space is on their drives. The good thing is that this signals the end of the sleazy type of alternative representation s that different vendors give of what they consider “1 gig”.

Link to settlement

Here is a good listing from PCWorld/Price Grabber of external disk drives. Some have good user reviews with them and it is in order by popularity.

Go to cheap external drive listings

There were some excellent comments on the Seagate (number 1), where people were not sure about how long the warantee was. I researched myself and saw that the 300gb model does have a five year warantee.

Be sure not to open up an external drive cover, it kills the warantee.

As you can see from some of the comments, the drives that have this “1 button backup” gimmick is something that is not the greatest. One would want to use their own software to give you the flexibility and reporting that you need for backing up. There are TONS of software to do that, as well as methods. From Winrar to fancy over-priced corporate software.

I would never buy a retail external HD. At least with an enclosure + internal HD, you can upgrade/replace the HD in the future. You also have a much wider choice of drives to choose from. Also, if you have problems with the external drive, you can remove it from the enclosure and install it into a PC for further diagnostic/recovery options that are not available to external drives. With a retail drive, this would void warranty… so you would have to choose between potential data recovery/saving data or replaceing the drive. Not so with an internal drive and an external enclosure.

You have made a very good point, but there are some complexities that I think make it so I feel that there are some situations for one, and some situations for the other.

[li]I have had several External HD Units. Sometimes there is a struggle to make them work.
[/li][li]There are some drives that just won’t work in them. There are situations that some manuvuring of the pin cover is needed to be done. Other situations where I have found where the sliding of the inside unit to fit the particular drive you want might be fragile, if moved frequently.
[/li][li]I think if someone is comfortable with being hardware savvy, and has several IDE drives sitting around my house (like me), it is a great fit
[/li][li]There are those who just want an external drive and have no desire to change it. Something sturdy and truly plug and play.
[/li][li]If the person does not have a drive to put in, if purchased, they come out about the same price. Remember there are some users that just want to plug in and not worry about it and have one vendor to deal with .
[/li][li]The lack of flexibility of the external drive can result in more stability. I think itis a choice.
[/li][li]In some ways I see both of them in somewhat different markets. I think those who like to “putter around” and build their own PCS, etc would prefer the Enclosure.