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Old July 26th, 2008, 09:27 PM   #1
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G-Tech drives vs. building my own? (personal storage advice...)

Hi everyone.
I just spent about an hour on the forums searching for and reading up on info regarding my particular situation.

However, I wanted to get some specific advice before I make the financial investment. I have a few life-situational issues that I've bulleted below. I really appreciate anyone who can take the time to evaluate my situation and let me know what my best bet is.

I've been a video/film enthusiast and an event videographer for the past 5 years. Recently I've starting doing a few more jobs and editing short films and documentaries for friends. In the years I've accumulated 3+ TBs of various storage space; (externally, I have 2 500GB WD MyBooks, a 750 Maxtor OneTouch, etc, and internally I have a 750 GB Maxtor in my G5, a 500 GB Hitachi in my G5, an old iMac with 250 GB, and a few other eSATA drives I'll swap out for backup)

I recently got a 1TB Seagate external drive, and it crashed and lost all my captured data. I paid $250 which seemed like a great deal, but it's not a great deal if it's not stable. I currently edit on a MacBook and have all my externals daisy-chained and attached with FW400 and I've NEVER had a data-loss problem until now. Occasionally I have a few issues with my computer recognizing the drives, but unplugging or switching the FW cables always solves that.

My Question: I need at least 1 TB of space. I want to avoid consumer-external-HD-issues and start investing in either swappable eSATA drives, or more expensive professional HDs. The G-Tech drives look amazing, and everyone seems to swear by them, but would they be necessary for me? I feel like it might be overkill and there might be some sort of consumer-reliable enclosure I could build on my own, and still have space to upgrade in the future.

• I work alone, on one computer, and do not do time-sensitive-work/capturing/editing.
• I edit with FCP on a MacBook using FW400 to my external drives. This speed has always been substantial for me. I don't need FW800.
• I travel a lot. My WD MyBook drives have been in my carry-on luggage for at least six different round-trip flights in the past year alone. They've stood up well and I've never had problems.
• This is NOT for backup. I'd need to be running these at least 8 hours a day.
• Money is kinda an issue. I don't mind paying for quality, but I only need about 1TB of additional space right now. I know I'll need to upgrade again in the future, but I don't know when that is. I can't exactly buy a big expensive rack RAID system and write it off as a business expense.

Here's what I'm thinking:

For the long-haul, I could certainly get the G-Raid2 with 2TB for $900 (it might come in handy one day), but I really don't need FW800 right now. I'm not sure if the investment makes sense for me. (And for the same price I could essentially get 4TBs of consumer-grade drives.)
The G-Drive looks pretty great too, but it's still $100 more than consumer models. I'm assuming THAT'S worth it--
But, lastly, as I mentioned, this is more of a hobby and occasional event job thing. If there's some reliable enclosure for SATA drives, I may as well just do that. But would those be as reliable for travel? And if so, I'm back to square-one 'cause I don't want to guess-and-test. What do YOU use? I'm happy to try another brand of consumer-external drive--but judging from amazon reviewers or webreviewers, I never seem to have my personal specifics addressed.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read over this! Right now I really just want something reliable, MAYBE with room to upgrade in a year or so. But I don't think I really need to go all-out professional... or do I?
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Old July 27th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #2
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Consider building one...

Sometimes you can save a little money building your own Hard Drive. Catch a sale and it can get even cheaper.

I prefer Seagate 750 GB HD's with their 5 year warranty, (I get 'em at NewEgg.com). They have a more expensive Enterprise Series for servers and such if you want a little more durability than the consumer model. Sometimes it's hard to find out what's inside the factory prefabbed enclosures, could be Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate Western Digital, Maxtor etc...

I also like to know which chipset is in the drives; the interface with your computer. Since I'm always getting quad interface (eSATA, FW800, FW400 & USB 2.0) enclosures, I migrate to Oxford 934 or 924 chipsets. Though you may not NEED FW800, the difference in price is worth a slight amount of future-proofing.

I've heard that 750 GB drives are more reliable that 1 TB's cuz' the data is spread evenly over the three platters inside (233 GB each). I have one-1 TB and six 750's all Seagate which stay on 24-7, though they do spin down when not in use. The Mercury Elite cases I get from OWC are silent and cool to touch (and look at).
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Old July 27th, 2008, 04:15 PM   #3
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Thanks very much for that info-- it's interesting to know about the 750s being more reliable. It's so hard to get a solid review from anywhere--and since I'm not THAT tech-savvy when it comes to storage, I usually get frustrated when specs are in terms I don't understand.

I never even came across the OWC enclosures, but they look great and I think that's what I'm going to go for.

Again, thank you so much. It's very reassuring just knowing someone else actually uses this and can stand behind it. I'd think on this site, or any other, it'd be a good idea to have a "living-database" of users' hardware and software setups, and they could note the pros and cons with them. I think it would make advice for personal investment exponentially easier.

Thanks again!
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Old July 27th, 2008, 05:53 PM   #4
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Be wary of "enterprise" drives. Sometimes their firmware is different enough to have issues with non-server related usage. As a matter of fact, I was told to avoid them by the guys at Mac Gurus and they know their stuff.

My .02 would be to get an enclosure such as the Mac Gurus Burly Bay (Granite Digital has them, Weibe Tech has them, lot's of others as well). This allows you to hot swap drives as needed, just purchasing the bare bones drives. NewEgg typically has great prices on OEM drives but I try to avoid OEM drives for pro use because of possible firmware issues. Rare, but it happens and if this is a paying gig I am not taking the chance.

Finally, I am a big believer in SATA drives/interface. For a number of years we used Firewire drives ourselves (moved to a Granite Digital enclosure and finally settled on Mac Gurus Burly Bay - we have 3 5-bay towers) and occasionally had... hiccups. Since switching to SATA (which you couldn't do on the MacBook), never a hiccup that I can recall.

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Old July 27th, 2008, 06:14 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Samuel Miller View Post
[...] I want to avoid consumer-external-HD-issues and start investing in either swappable eSATA drives, or more expensive professional HDs. The G-Tech drives look amazing, and everyone seems to swear by them, but would they be necessary for me? [...]
Regardless of the drives you buy, hard drives are delicate electro-mechanical devices which will eventually fail. I just had a Seagate 500 GB SATA drive fail, which I'm about to ship off to Seagate for replacement under their 5-year warranty. Now this was not a traumatic event, for all of the media on the drive was backed up on a second drive. No matter what kind of drive you purchase, you need to think about a back up strategy. Any storage unit with a hard drive in it will eventually experience a failure, regardless of brand. So back up, keep a second copy of your media somewhere, no matter what you do. Keep a third copy of you don't have tape to go back to. Oh, and one more thing... if you're concerned about drive reliability, and you're putting together your own system w/ drives and an enclosure, choose one with a fan. Heat is a problem with long term use of drives.
David Tames { blog: http://Kino-Eye.com twitter: @cinemakinoeye }
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Old July 28th, 2008, 05:34 AM   #6
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Mike, it's good to know all that. I appreciate the info. I was looking at the Burly Bay--which looks like it'd be a wonderful convenience--but I don't think it would be necessary for me at this point. :/ I've heard SATA is the best method to use, but yeah, as you said I can't with the MacBook. Definitely will keep it in mind in a few years when I need to start working more and get whatever MacPro equivalent is on the market.

Thanks for the info David. I do keep everything with at least one HD and one media backup so I'm not too worried about that.
I'm surprised it can be so hard to find decent fans, or fans at all. I guess it's just not necessary for some, but I really don't see why it's something consumers don't want. I'm always shocked by how many amazon users write in their reviews, "I had to lower my rating because it's just way too loud."

I guess it's good that that kinda thing doesn't bother me, because I even have a separate fan on my desk to keep everything cool.

Thanks again for the advice guys!
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