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Offline andromedanwarmachine

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vote for the best external storage device!
« on: January 11, 2011, 08:53:01 AM »
Sorry- that was a bit thin as a title. This probably deserves to be a POLL but mabey we could move onto that depending on the candidates revealed by this post.

I'm trying to establish two things from the populace gathered here;

1. what is the best external hard drive for archive storage of material that anybody has experience of?

2. what is the largest size that anyone would consider safe? (do they get more fragile as they get bigger?)


and following on from there, is there a product that is leant to PC more than Mac and vice versa and is there anything specifically to avoid which has proven unreliable.

Thanks

JimP
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Offline it-goes-to-eleven

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2011, 09:46:09 AM »
This topic has been covered to death many times.  Nothing has changed.


External enclosures are a crapshoot because you don't usually know what drive is in the enclosure.  It can vary wildly.  They are a good way for companies to get rid of old stock.

Each drive is different.  And I mean *EACH* drive, not model.  It takes over 40 hours of testing for me to qualify a new drive, and they fail fairly often.  Even then, an early failure is still a possibility. 

It's all about your workflow and how you manage those drives: backup, monitor, test.  Learn how to use SMART.  Never leave yourself with only one copy.  Accept that silent data corruption DOES happen, and plan for it.

External drives are a target for theft.   DVDs are clunky, but less likely to get stolen.  I think they can still have a place in a backup strategy.

1TB is still the sweet spot.   Capacities higher than that have new tech that is still very much bleeding edge - especially in the consumer drive market.  Basically, the drive arms have another sub arm at the tip that moves.  That is the current tech direction, but it is still very new.  Another (old) approach is to pack more platters in the drive, and that has serious drawbacks.

Some larger (2tb) drives have timers to park the heads when not in use.  That isn't necessarily just inconvenience or power saving, it can be a sign that the mechanism isn't very robust.

I'd love to buy 2TB drives, but I just don't see the tech as mature yet.

Seagate has been flirting with bankruptcy for years.  I'd avoid them.  The western digital black drives have always been good to me.   Basically an enterprise drive priced for the consumer market.

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Offline andromedanwarmachine

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2011, 04:02:37 AM »
thankyou 'eleven,

I apologise for my ignorance regarding the legacy of this question.

So broadly speaking, from your own experience, something like Western Digital 1TB drives represent a good compromise...?

(in terms of technology and reliablility)

JimP
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Offline it-goes-to-eleven

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2011, 09:42:31 AM »
Yep.  As a specific example, I recently picked up a WD10000lsrtl on sale at best buy for $85 (sale not advertised at stores), plus I had a couple of $10 gift cards I wanted to get rid of.  I don't normally shop there but they had/have a good CRT recycling program where they charge $10, but give you back a gift card for that amount.

I also buy the WD externals, but again stick with the 1TBs.  I've seen the 3TB's on the shelf, and really look forward to those...

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Offline andromedanwarmachine

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2011, 05:40:02 AM »
thanks for this, eleven...

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Offline live2496

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2011, 11:01:29 AM »
I would go for a docking station for SATA drives and get multiple 1TB drives.
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Offline F.O.Bean

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2011, 09:29:37 PM »
Ive only had my new Seagate 500gb exhdd since xmas, but it syncs automatically w/ my internal hdd, so i love it so far. If I bought a bigger drive id just get lazy. My Seagate 500gb EXHDD uis for storing my 120GB Zune(ALL Phish from 97>2010) and my 160gb iPod, and thats about it. As long as I have a backup of my mp3 players I'm happy. Because I burn ALL my flacs to dvd-+r's.

Oh and I only bought my Seagate bc i had a WD 250GB EXHDD go bad after only 1 year :( I just happened to back everything up the NIGHT BEFORE IT DIED :P
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Offline live2496

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2011, 10:21:55 PM »
I have had a WD external drive fail too. But the internal ones have all been great.
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Offline Simp-Dawg

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2011, 07:23:51 PM »
I have had a WD external drive fail too. But the internal ones have all been great.
i've got a WD 1TB MyBook Studio Edition Pro II that shit the bed on me a few months ago.  it's got 2 500gb drives in it and i can't read anything off them.  almost all of my unfinished/unprocessed recordings from the years i was taping are on it.   >:(  i'll never buy another WD external drive.  probably going to have to spend several hundred dollars to get the data recovered off it.

the drives themselves are fine, i should say, the enclosure is the part that's fried.  apparently it uses some proprietary formatting/partitioning system which makes the drives unreadable unless they are hooked up to it.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 07:26:12 PM by Simp-Dawg »
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Offline it-goes-to-eleven

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2011, 07:42:35 PM »
apparently it uses some proprietary formatting/partitioning system which makes the drives unreadable unless they are hooked up to it.

It uses some type of raid.  This is yet another example of why I tell people NOT to use raid.

Your best bet is to remove the drives and get a replacement enclosure from WD, or elsewhere.

The drives can be easily cloned using linux - and they should be before any recovery effort begins. Since it's only 500gbx2, isn't that much data to deal with.


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Offline beatkilla

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2011, 07:47:42 PM »
I have 8 external hd and only 1 is a Western Digital my book all the rest are Seagate and the Western Digital is the only one that failed.

Offline F.O.Bean

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2011, 10:39:39 PM »
Damn, I cant believe so many of us have been BURNED by WD :P :(
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Offline andromedanwarmachine

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2011, 06:04:04 AM »
it's bad for sure-

makes you wonder if the data-write type which tapers use is too much for them.-

I mean large uninterrupted chunks of hi-def audio- mabey it's too much to defragment...?

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Offline OFOTD

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2011, 02:24:36 PM »
I've got in upwards of 26TB of storage space at home and won't use any non-SSD drives other than Western Digital anymore.   Several Seagate's and have died both within and just barely out of the warranty period.   Once they bought Maxtor their products have IMO gone to shit.  Samsung seems to be picking up steam in the HD market but I don't know anyone using one of their consumer drives.   

A common problem with all external USB drives is that the converter (usb > sata/pata) gets fried pretty often due to power spikes when people unhook them while on instead of ejecting them through their OS of choice.  The opposite seems to be the problem with Firewire as you hear of cases where the host FW gets hosed in what is supposedly a hotswap connection.

 

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2011, 04:15:32 PM »
I've been less concerned about the brand and reliability of a drive than whether I've used a good back-up strategy.  If you assuming that any of your drives can fail at any time, you have a far lower chance of being pimped. 

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2011, 04:23:03 PM »
Seagate is the only company that has burned me so far. No problem with the WD's (knock on wood)
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2011, 08:53:53 AM »
I had a 200GB WD drive formatted NTFS that lost the partition table, which was a common problem with that particular model.  I swore off WD after that but have sense bought a 2TB WD drive I got cheap.


I am mainly running Seagate and Samsung now though.



Point is no drive manufacturer is without issue.
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Offline it-goes-to-eleven

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2011, 01:46:01 PM »
Point is no drive manufacturer is without issue.

Of course not.  But segate has been on the edge of bankruptcy for years.

And even before that, they wouldn't do an advance replacement.  So if your new drive was failing and throwing codes, they wouldn't send you a replacement until you sent them the failing drive.  WD has done advance swaps for much longer.


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Offline rastasean

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2011, 03:37:19 PM »
Have many servers switched over to using SSD drives or do they still primarily run on scsi & sas?
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2011, 03:40:31 PM »
Have many servers switched over to using SSD drives or do they still primarily run on scsi & sas?

I would never use an SSD for ANYTHING critical.  In fact I wonder how many Server OS's offer native TRIM support right now.

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2011, 09:21:15 PM »
Some companies are starting to move the boot partitions over to SSD on redundant servers (note that - and put all the data on SAN, etc)


See:


http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/servers/proliantstorage/drives-enclosures/index.html


Parallel SCSI is pretty much dead although SAS and iSCSI (a SAN technology) are in wide use.


I do believe SAS SSD's are avail or soon to be avail.
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2011, 09:52:58 PM »
i had 4 or 5 wd mybooks die in less then 1yr
stopped sending them back for replacement and just got a seagate
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2011, 08:31:19 AM »
what capacity were they, Will?

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2011, 01:31:14 PM »
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #24 on: January 19, 2011, 02:01:32 PM »
Had a WD book die within 7 days, right after I got home from HSMF and had dumped 4 days worth of shows on it.  500GB model too.  Never again.  I have had good luck with Iomega which run seagate drives from what I understand, A Segate both of which are 1TB  and  a Maxtor which has toshibia drive.  But Toshibia only makes up to a 320GB I believe. 

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #25 on: January 19, 2011, 02:16:34 PM »
Have many servers switched over to using SSD drives or do they still primarily run on scsi & sas?

I would never use an SSD for ANYTHING critical.  In fact I wonder how many Server OS's offer native TRIM support right now.

My buddy runs his OS on a SSD drive with Windows 7 and it SCREAMS.  You see the post from the mobo then you're looking at a login screen.  That fast.

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #26 on: January 19, 2011, 02:44:21 PM »
Have many servers switched over to using SSD drives or do they still primarily run on scsi & sas?

I would never use an SSD for ANYTHING critical.  In fact I wonder how many Server OS's offer native TRIM support right now.

My buddy runs his OS on a SSD drive with Windows 7 and it SCREAMS.  You see the post from the mobo then you're looking at a login screen.  That fast.

I run an SSD at home for my OS as well.  Love it.  At home if it fails no biggie. 

Running one on a production critical server?  Not so much.   

Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #27 on: January 19, 2011, 03:20:57 PM »
For those who've had WD MyBooks die on them, consider buying higher quality bare drives and dropping them into a well-powered and -ventilated external enclosure.  Frankly, I don't trust any manufacturer's all-in-one, off-the-shelf consumer solution -- there are simply too many compromises, most of which are not publicized at all (e.g. even something as simple as the specific model and specs of the drives).  Much better to create a more robust external HDD solution on your own -- and it doesn't cost much more.

FWIW, I'm a WD fan -- I typically purchase their low-ish end models targeted for business, with 3 or 5 year warranty, and never buy the latest-and-greatest, biggest-and-bestest model.  First generation runs of any high tech device -- especially those pushing the envelope, like increasingly huge HDD storage -- tend to have issues.  I'm much happier buying slightly smaller, more reliable HDDs with a proven track record.  Personally, I don't see much point in being an early adopter of any HDD pushing the limits in the my-HDD-is-bigger than-your-HDD game.

I have, on occasion, used WD's advance replacement service (both in and out of warranty) -- not surprisingly, since all HDDs fail eventually.  At the first sign of trouble with a HDD, the advance replacement service allows me to receive the new HDD, transfer and verify my data to the new HDD (whether from the HDD going bad or a known good mirrored copy), then wipe the old one clean before sending it back to WD.  Very easy, very convenient.
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #28 on: January 19, 2011, 03:41:49 PM »

I have, on occasion, used WD's advance replacement service (both in and out of warranty) -- not surprisingly, since all HDDs fail eventually.  At the first sign of trouble with a HDD, the advance replacement service allows me to receive the new HDD, transfer and verify my data to the new HDD (whether from the HDD going bad or a known good mirrored copy), then wipe the old one clean before sending it back to WD.  Very easy, very convenient.

could you tell me more about your experience with out of warranty products?  i found a form on their site and submitted my s/n and it came up as out of warranty (which i expected), though with the wrong model number...and i didn't go any further.  what i want to replace is the enclosure, the drives seem to be fine, just can't read the data off them because of the partitioning (or whatever you'd call it that bind their hardware to accessibility of the drives)...i've taken the drives out of the enclosure and hooked them up to several different OS's and they all show there being no partition found, again not a surprise because there's gotta be some kind of RAID or something tying the 2 500GB drives together as one 1TB drive. 
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Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #29 on: January 19, 2011, 03:51:52 PM »
could you tell me more about your experience with out of warranty products?

It's been a while, and unfortunately I don't think my experiences will help you much, but...the story is pretty short and simple:  after my two most recent WD HDD failures (this was quite some time ago), WD had an offer running where they provided a discounted price on a new replacement HDD.

I doubt they'll offer to do anything at all about your bombed drives.  And I would guess they're using a proprietary RAID0 setup, which means it might not be easy to recover the data.  I assume you've researched online to see if anyone else has recovered a bombed RAID0 WD setup?
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #30 on: January 19, 2011, 04:44:51 PM »
what i want to replace is the enclosure, the drives seem to be fine, just can't read the data off them because of the partitioning (or whatever you'd call it that bind their hardware to accessibility of the drives)

I think your best (and cheapest) option is to find an enclosure just like it that works. And put your drives into it.

I have no idea that it would work, but surely if it is a hardware raid then the embedded electronics will be compatible with what you have.
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #31 on: January 19, 2011, 04:52:55 PM »
I've been less concerned about the brand and reliability of a drive than whether I've used a good back-up strategy.  If you assuming that any of your drives can fail at any time, you have a far lower chance of being pimped.

I rsync early and often. I'm actually to the point of expanding my rsync strategy from 3 drives to 5. It's currently; daily driver, and 2 to rsync off of it (1 off site, one on sight that gets synced often). I'm looking at adding another 1 to both the general backup and immediate backup/mirror sections and really fleshing out the rotation and backups.

Second, I label the "birthday" of each drive and some notes about how much use it's seen. This won't account for immediate failures like kirk's, but it will give me an idea of when I need to rotate one from daily driver to off site backup.

Drive companies are a lot of like empires; all good things fall. It's a shame because Maxtor and Seagate used to be great. I once took a Maxtor drive apart, had a PC repair class play with the platers (with their fingers) and put it back together so we didn't lose any pieces. It got mixed into the general pool by accident and didn't find it until about a month later after we'd formatted it and installed linux on it and used it for a bit. I don't think that's possible now.  :(
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Offline F.O.Bean

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #32 on: January 19, 2011, 10:10:21 PM »
But Toshibia only makes up to a 320GB I believe. 

Not true, my local Sams Club sells 500GB Toshiba EXHDD's. I bought one and took it back 20 mins later when I found a 500GB Seagate at Walmart for the same price :)
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Offline PeteJE

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #33 on: January 19, 2011, 11:28:15 PM »
These OWCs are amazing and haven't had a failure yet with lots of use and archival...
http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/

They also have excellent SSDs, but that tech is still very pricey.

Offline willndmb

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #34 on: January 20, 2011, 11:06:30 AM »
fwiw
i agree on the wd book drives being ok if you where to break it open and put it in a different case
mine and all the replacements seemed to be issues with the case not being seen more then a drive itself not working
the reason i come to that conclusion is because i had one they let me keep instead of sending it back, so i screwed around with it and every now and then you could get it to work and the drive sounded fine when you turned it on
maybe one day i'll break it open and test it out
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2011, 08:30:16 AM »
I recently asked the Technical Services department at the British Library National Sound Archive about this. After all- they are archiving an enormous amount of material and are hoping to preserve it indefinitely. Also- they are doing it professionally, having investigated it themselves...

I was recommended this; http://www.drobo.com/

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2011, 10:38:49 AM »
the drobo s 5 bay is $800 and then you would need the drives for it. It is out of my reach to purchase for data backup but looks like something worthwhile of an office environment for backup purposes.

I personally would prefer external enclosures and internal drives. While 640 gigs for a hdd may seem terribly small, it would work fine for most people and only $65:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319

How many of YOUR shows occupy all of your combined storage and how much total storage do you have?

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Offline dlh

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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #37 on: January 22, 2011, 10:11:48 AM »
My $.02

I use:
http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?S=1268&ID=1642

and:
http://www.superflexible.com/
and:
http://www.wiebetech.com/products/cases.php
to store the bare drives.


I have to agree that it's more about strategy and discipline, because I believe in:
http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-computer.html

It's not "if", it's "when".


I like the drobo (must admit at first I thought it said dobro).

Thanks for that.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 10:14:06 AM by dlh »
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #38 on: February 04, 2011, 04:44:16 PM »
I'll make another plug for Drobo.  I have a gen 1 unit and other than the relatively slow USB 2 interface it works as advertised.  I've had individual drives fail within the unit, but simply swapped them out and the redundancy was rebuilt.  I still keep a backup on another physical drive, but I have never had to rely on it.

I have seen the USB only Gen 1 units sell used for $200-250.  The newer ESATA or GIG Ethernet units run around $650 and are much faster.

No manufacturer makes 100% reliable hard drives.  I support servers and PCs for a living and have seen them all fail, the key is to expect that and mitigate against the failure.
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Re: vote for the best external storage device!
« Reply #39 on: March 08, 2011, 03:12:13 PM »
FWIW, I have had success with the following strategy:

1. Buy the cheapest drives you can on the assumption that they are all going to die soon.
2. Make sure that you *always* 2 redundant backups (e.g. 3 copies of everything, always, no exceptions).
3. Replace a drive as soon as it starts to go.

I have a firewire drive (LaCie) which has lasted since 2004. I've had drives that kicked in less than a week.

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