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Average lifespan of LaCie d2 Quadra?
March 13, 2010 2:05 PM   Subscribe

My internal hard drive died, and new purchases are out of the question for a while. Wondering about the drive lifespan of the LaCie d2 Quadra that is my bootable backup.

My Macintosh's internal hard drive (a Western Digital) finally gave up the ghost today after spitting out various I/O errors for a while. However, due to economic circumstances, I can spend no money on computer repair. (I don't believe I bought AppleCare when buying the machine in Feb. 2006, and in any case certainly didn't renew it.)

I have a backup hard drive with a bootable backup which I'm now working from -- a 500 GB LaCie d2 Quadra.

Unlike the Western Digital, this d2 Quadra drive does not appear to have any SMART status information accessible (and Disk Utility confirms this).

The drive was purchased in April 2008, and has up to this point has seen light use: weekly or biweekly use as a backup along with the occasional stint of movie-watching (which is not that disk-intensive).

Ideally, I'd like this drive to last around nine to 12 months of daily use, until such time as I can purchase a replacement system (which will most likely include an operating system shift for me, to Windows).

Is that a realistic expectation? Is there any resource I can go to which speaks to this drive's average lifespan?
posted by WCityMike to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I hate to tell you this, but my own experiences with LaCie hardware over the years have been uniformly poor. If the hard drive didn't fail, the controller board or power supply would. I would recommend that, if your data are valuable, do what you can to have a backup in place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:34 PM on March 13, 2010


I agree with BP. I stopped recommending Lacie HDs to my clients several years ago because it seemed they couldn't manage to ship an external HD that didn't succumb to powersupply or board failures in the first year or two of use. Typically, I've been able to pull the HD from a failed unit and put it into a new case and be okay.

What Mac do you have? I know you say you can't spend any money on a fix, but internal HDs are crazy inexpensive now. You can easily pick up a 500GB internal HD for $50-$60.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 3:40 PM on March 13, 2010


This is my backup, and I hadn't had a secondary or tertiary backup. Financial circumstances don't permit new purchases of same.

My parents replaced my mother's laptop a few months ago, and they still have her older machine. At some point I can switch over to that.

That will require, though, a conversion of home operating systems after over a decade worth of Mac OS use, so I'm eager to put that off until I can do the conversion under controlled circumstances.
posted by WCityMike at 3:44 PM on March 13, 2010


Not saying you should replace the Lacie. Am saying you should consider the minor investment in replacing the internal HD in your Mac. Unless it's an Aluminum iMac, which has a ridiculously difficult internal HD replacement, you should be able to do so easily. You can continue to use your Lacie as your backup.

And if you want to sell the Mac after moving over to your new computer in a few months, something with a functional internal HD and OS on it is going to sell better than something without.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 3:48 PM on March 13, 2010


mrbarrett.com: Not saying you should replace the Lacie.

Actually, mrbarrett.com, that first comment was a reply to BP's comment.

mrbarrett.com: What Mac do you have? I know you say you can't spend any money on a fix, but internal HDs are crazy inexpensive now. You can easily pick up a 500GB internal HD for $50-$60.

I have an Intel iMac (early '06), and it's a Western Digital WD1600JS-40NGB2, SATA, 160 gigabytes.

I'm skeptical of my ability to replace the hard drive, though. It appears as if Apple doesn't offer official instructions, and the one site everyone points to, this one, looks utterly horrific, even though I consider myself a mild to moderate techie.

Still, I wonder: even if we say that the hard drive has a year's life, I can't have used up that full year yet -- the drive may be almost two years old, but it's not been used that frequently during that time. At the very least, it sounds like I would have a few months' more of life in the hard drive.
posted by WCityMike at 4:21 PM on March 13, 2010


Well, it looks like through here and one or two additional Google searches, I have a general consensus to not trust the LaCie to survive for too long. (Evidently, the general thought is that the stuff has inadequate heat sinking.)
posted by WCityMike at 4:44 PM on March 13, 2010


Moving the hard drive out of the LaCie enclosure is a good idea. If you want to replace the existing hard drive with the hard drive out of the LaCie enclosure, I would highly recommend visiting iFixIt for detailed, picture-laden instructions for DIY repairs.

I really can't recommend iFixIt enough for at-home Mac repairs. It's a really great resource.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:56 PM on March 13, 2010


Also, you might make use of Dropbox for 2 GB of free storage, however temporarily, if there is critical stuff you need saved, until you can get a backup in place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:14 PM on March 13, 2010


BP, DropBox is a good idea. iFixIt's hard drive instructions just reinforce that such a task would be very far above my skillset, not to mention requiring certain tools I just don't have and can't afford to purchase.
posted by WCityMike at 6:42 PM on March 13, 2010


Hey, for those still in this thread ... what would you say the likelihood of it going bad in, say, the next three months? Not end-of-year, but lasting say through the spring? I just can't get the OS and data off it immediately, and I'd like to not be living in fear for the next few months.
posted by WCityMike at 6:48 PM on March 13, 2010


The only way not to live in fear is to get/make another backup. If it were me - with only 1 surviving drive with my data, I would stop using my computer immediately and go buy another hard drive right now. I would not use any drive/computer without a backup. Dropbox might be a good temporary solution.

When you do have the funds - please consider a secondary backup and an online (tertiary) backup.

Paraphrasing jwz: make a backup or learn to not care about your data.
posted by ish__ at 7:30 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Moving the hard drive out of the LaCie enclosure is a good idea.

Mike is unsure of his technical skill and is reluctant to attempt repairs. Advising him to disassemble the sole remaining copy of his data is a very bad idea.


What would you say the likelihood of it going bad in, say, the next three months?

Hard drives don't fail like that. The timing is a lot more random. Some believe the best predictor of failure is an absence of backups. But I keep triple-redundant backups, so I wouldn't know.


I'd like to not be living in fear for the next few months.

A worthwhile goal. Here's what you need to do:
  1. Memail me your address. I'm pretty sure I have a spare disk around here somewhere.
  2. Look through your mefi contacts, nearby users, and Chicago meetup threads. Find someone who is willing to do the swap.

posted by ryanrs at 9:33 AM on March 14, 2010


I think my strategy is going to be this: my father has already indicated he is going to send my mother's laptop (well, I suppose, mine now) to me tomorrow or very shortly thereafter, via non-overnight UPS.

I think that, while it does play the odds, it's not likely that the LaCie, which seems to in practice have an average drive life of a year's daily use, will go south on me in the next one or two weeks.

I'll make a point of over the next day or two backing up some semi-irreplaceable things (Quicken data, etc.) over to DropBox.

When the laptop arrives, I'll slowly bring over data from the backup onto the laptop (since I'll be converting myself from a Mac user to a Windows user at the same time).

ish__, I simply don't have the option of discontinuing use of my computer, or of buying a new hard drive. It's not that I don't "care about my data", because I do: it's that I don't have the luxury of doing the most data-safe maneuver right now.

Ryanrs, I really do appreciate the offer of a spare disk. I may take you up on that, but for the moment, I think I am going to see if the above course of action will do instead.
posted by WCityMike at 11:35 AM on March 14, 2010


WCityMike: didn't mean to offend you - I hear that you don't have the options. I was merely trying to stress how fickle hard drives can be, and how precarious digital data is. Your original question was the lifespan of a particular drive. My answer was: you shouldn't depend on any lifespan if that's your only copy of the data.

Seconding ryanrs's offer, I probably have a smaller (40gig) drive lying around I could ship up to chi-town.

Good luck.
posted by ish__ at 1:36 PM on March 14, 2010


Average lifespan or MTBF for drives isn't much use - the chance that it fails in the next 12 months is small but significant. Find a way to make another backup.
posted by turkeyphant at 3:03 PM on March 14, 2010


converting myself from a Mac user to a Windows user

Yeesh. I'd rather lose my data.

Anyway, memail me if you change your mind. I have a small, slow, obsolete 320 GB disk with your name on it.
posted by ryanrs at 3:12 PM on March 14, 2010


ryanrs: Yeesh. I'd rather lose my data.

As a former Apple fan and current semi-fan, I can sympathize. :) But as someone who's going to be watching every penny with a very close eye over the next few years even when I do find work, when the time comes to purchase something new, I just don't see myself being able to justify the cost difference between a Windows machine and a Mac one -- even with people's thoughts about TCO.

And, to be honest, Apple is acting like such a censorious fascist jackass company with its awful antics with the App Store that I'm not sure I'd feel happy about a Mac purchase even were I rolling in dough.

Not to mention that the operating systems have progressed enough in the days since I made my first purchase: Windows 7 vs. Snow Leopard is a far different proposition. (Although the laptop being shipped has XP.)

A lot of what I like about Apple's stuff has either already been cloned to Windows (i.e. WriteRoom), has a Windows port (curl, cygwin, remind), or has a pretty decent Windows freeware equivalent.

Plus, frankly, as a geek who's not ever had a Windows system of his own, I'm admittedly a little interested in getting in there and trying it out.
posted by WCityMike at 5:06 PM on March 14, 2010


Mike is unsure of his technical skill and is reluctant to attempt repairs. Advising him to disassemble the sole remaining copy of his data is a very bad idea.

Just suggesting another source for repair instructions, sir.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:40 PM on March 14, 2010


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