Saturday, October 30, 2010

External Hard Drives and eSATA

I've been wanting to use an external HD for backing up my computer(s) but I didn't want one that locks me into using one particular kind of software. In the past, I've used regular IDE drives in an external case, and backed up to them via USB cable.

Nowadays, modern drives are larger, and are usually SATA drives. And now, they often use something called eSATA when they are used as external drives. A good explaination of eSATA is here:

What Is eSATA?
External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or eSATA is an external interface for SATA technologies. It competes with FireWire 400 and universal serial bus (USB) 2.0 to provide fast data transfer speeds for external storage devices.

SATA replaced ATA legacy technology as the next generation internal bus interface for hard drives. The SATA interface is more streamlined than ATA and provides serial architecture for greater speed than the older parallel technology. eSATA cables are narrow and can be up to 6.56 feet (2 meters) in length, whereas parallel cables are much wider and limited to a length of 18 inches (45.7 cm). With eSATA, the speed of SATA expands to encompass exterior storage solutions. [...]

Read the whole thing for the advantages, drawbacks, and other details. It sounds great to me.

I am thinking about getting a Western Digital 1 TB drive, and putting it into one of these:
Antec MX-1 USB/e-SATA 3.5-Inch Hard Drive Enclosure
Product Features

* 3.5-inch USB 2.0/e-SATA external hard drive enclosure for PC
* Up to 480 Mbps USB transfer rate; 3 Gbps e-SATA transfer rate
* Dual-layer design reduces noise; patented blower keeps drive up to 15 degrees cooler
* Includes stand, USB cable, eSATA cable, and eSATA bracket
* 3-year limited warranty

Technical Details

* Model Number: MX-1
* Interface: Hi-Speed USB 2.0, eSATA-300, serial ATA-300
* Interface transfer rate: USB: 480 Mbps; eSATA: 3 Gbps
* Hard drive compatibility: Up to 750 GB 3.5-inch SATA hard disk drive
* System requirements: Windows 2000/Me/XP/Vista
* Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.6 x 2.2 inches / 14.6 x 21.9 x 5.7 centimeters (W x H x D)
* Weight: 1.4 pounds / 0.65 kilograms
* What's in the Box: MX-1 hard drive enclosure, USB cable, eSATA cable, eSATA bracket, stand

But then I saw this:

Western Digital WD Elements 2 TB USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive WDBAAU0020HBK-NESN
Here is a 5 star review from a customer:
Very good hard drive!, November 23, 2009
[...] I am a photographer too, so I have tons of Photos (about 160GB), Videos, Software, Movies and Documentaries. I was looking for a simple external hard drive without any backup software included, I am smart enough to do manual incremental backups with file tree structure intact (I use GOODSYNC to backup, its very simple and easy to use and free).

I have looked at many many external HDDs and narrowed down to two models "Samsung Story 1TB - very good one too" and this one (I wanted it to be cheap too - got this for $85 on [...]). I did not go with other WD models because of their annoying Backup Software.

Coming to the WD Elements 1TB: Its much smaller than I expected. It is dead silent, I had to touch it to convince myself that it was running, when I first turned it on. Its not too heavy either. The indicator light is placed at the rear, which is a very good thing (I find these LED's annoying, especially at night).

After I did the first setup, I copied 383GB of data (931GB was total space). It took about 4hr 47min, speed varied between 20MBps to 37MBps. This is pretty good speed for USB 2.0. It was just a bit warm (my old segate hard drive would be very very hot for this amount of data transfer).

I would recommend it to beginners or pros alike. I am very happy with this purchase!


After about three months of heavy usage, it never gave up on me. Its still dead silent and works flawlessly. It never got even warm!!

Follow these steps to get GOODSYNC for FREE:

In the beginning GOODSYNC was free, later they made a paid version as it gained popularity..

but there is a way to get PRO version for free...

1. go to good sync website
2. signup for a trial offer and you get PRO serial for free (I signed up for eMusic trial)
3. Once you get the serial, end the subscription before the trial expires...

NOTE: The above mentioned procedure may not work anymore :(

UPDATE: 07-28-2010

I sold my WD Elements 1TB and got a 2TB one a couple of months ago(as my data is on rise all the time), couldn't be happier :)
I bought it from TigerDirect for [ ... ] and got [ ... ] cashback via [ ... ] ...awesome!!

It doesn't do eSATA, so I would be stuck with USB transfer speeds. But it's TWO TBs instead of one. Decisions, decisions.

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