Largest external HDD w/o power supply?
February 1, 2009 1:48 PM   Subscribe

External HDD shopping : Helping co-worker pick a external HDD.

Trying to help a coworker find an external HDD that suits her needs. storage bigger than 100GB, costs less than $100, no power adapter required. What's the largest size available, 320gb?
posted by jstarlee to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Western Digital has a 320 for $109, 250 for $89, and 160 for $79.
posted by theichibun at 1:57 PM on February 1, 2009

Anything by G Tech. The G Drive is $149.00 for 500GB / 7200 RPM.
posted by plexi at 1:57 PM on February 1, 2009

The G Drive needs an external PSU. You're probably limited to notebook-sized external drives, and even then, some USB ports don't give quite enough juice to power them on their own. The little WDs are PSU free.
posted by scruss at 2:10 PM on February 1, 2009

I have the version of this with the fire wire option--but this looks just as good though. Has USB, no power needed and 320GB for $99.99.

Someone will tell me my favorite hard drive sucks, but I have had really good luck with LaCie drives.
posted by milarepa at 2:38 PM on February 1, 2009

Just stay away from the Western Digital My Book products. I've - no fool'n - seen three of these fail in the past six months. The hard drives are fine, it's the circuitry in the enclosure that is screwy.
posted by wfrgms at 2:49 PM on February 1, 2009

Iomega eGo is a small portable in various models. This one goes up to 500GB without an external power supply. You can get the 320 for less than $100. I have the 250GB model, like it fine for backup.
posted by sageleaf at 3:23 PM on February 1, 2009

I have one of these and I love it. I have had it for four months with no problems what so ever. I don't think I have ever been as satisfied with a tech purchase.
posted by archaic at 4:09 PM on February 1, 2009

Also the Western Digital Passport ones recommended above go up to 500GB now. eg.
posted by nowonmai at 6:20 PM on February 1, 2009

External hard drives come in two major flavors: those based on 3.5" drive mechanisms and those based on 2.5" laptop drive mechanisms.

The vast majority of 3.5"-based external HDs use "wall wart" style power adapters. A very small number of them have cases with bult-in PSUs, so that all that's requires is an IEC 3-pin AC cord (like your computer uses), but these are uncommon and becoming more rare because they're large and comparatively expensive.

If you want something that's powered entirely from the computer it's attached to, you're looking at 2.5" drives. (This is because the 3.5" drives take more power than you can draw from FireWire or USB.) Right now I think the most you can get in the 2.5" form factor is 500GB, but there might be 750s later this year.

You're not going to get 500GB for under $100, though. In that price bracket you're going to be looking more in the 320GB range. Until a few days ago, there was a 400GB one selling for $90 at; I don't know if that deal is still ongoing, but you could try it.

Without doing a chart it's tough to stay for sure but I suspect the price/cap sweet spot is around 320GB for portable bus-powered external drives, just on casual inspection. There seem to be a handful of 400GB models if you want a bit more, but then the price jumps substantially for 500GB since that's newer technology.

As for brands, I would honestly not pay too much attention to anything except the manufacturer of the drive and the interfaces it has on it (USB, FireWire, eSATA). And if the price was really right I'd be willing to go with any of the major drive manufacturers (Hitachi, Seagate, Maxtor, Western Digital). I used to pay extra for Seagate drives, but lately I think they've lost their quality edge and are on par with everybody else. Plus, let's face it: a portable drive is much more likely to be ruined from drop damage than to last until its parts wear out; it's an entirely different game from desktop drives that are going to run until they finally bite the dust, making the MTBF a huge concern.

I have a bunch of portable drives around; almost all of them are random drives salvaged from old laptops shoved into $5 USB cases picked up at Microcenter. The only one that doesn't fit that description is an Iomega, which is nice but not really superior to the cheapo ones in any way I can detect.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:04 PM on February 1, 2009

You're not going to get 500GB for under $100

500GB external for under $100; 1TB internal for under $100.
posted by finite at 3:18 PM on February 2, 2009

Sorry, I misread the question; if you need a 2.5 inch bus-powered drive, you probably can't get 500gb for under $100.
posted by finite at 3:26 PM on February 2, 2009

Dunno if anyone's still here, but:

Western Digital 500GB MyPassport Portable HD $75

Just got one myself. Great deal!
posted by jckll at 1:14 PM on February 16, 2009

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