How robust/durable are LaCie firewire drives?
February 7, 2005 12:07 PM   Subscribe

How robust/durable are LaCie firewire drives? [+]

Wow... Don't know how that happened... sorry for the duplicate.

At any rate, I have been using a G5 Mac with 75GB hard disk and I have exceeded my storage capacity. I have a 50GB MP3 library, and have similar space requirements for my LogicAudio project files. I did buy a LaCIE 500GB drive, but I am curious how durable these are for (1) using it as my prinicple iTunes library (I tend to play Mp3s as I work all day and (2) using it for recording to with Logic or Protools?

Thanks for your help.
posted by psmealey to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
I have four of these drives (the Lacie "D2" or "Big Disk" drives.) They are great and I haven't had a problem-- and I *really* use them, lots of streaming data in and out shared via NFS to a compute cluster. That said, there are two drives in that casing that appears as one 500GB drive. I believe (someone will correct me, I am sure) that this means if one of the drives goes bad your data on both drives will be inaccessible. So you are increasing your data loss risk by 2.

I've used them on Linux, Mac OSX and Windows. My favorite part is that you can chain them using FW800. The drive is much faster than my Powerbook internal drive.
posted by neustile at 12:24 PM on February 7, 2005

The 500 GB BigDisks are two disks in a striped RAID mode. Striping without parity reduces reliability: if one drive fails, all striped drives fail.

LaCie just puts whatever drives are on the market into their enclosures. That said, LaCie makes good hard drive enclosures. I have a bunch of LaCies and they have been workhorses for me.

I would buy two BigDisks and mirror them. That way you won't lose any of your music files, and Firewire 800 gives good enough performance that you should be able to use it with a sequencer. Note that ProTools has its own hardware requirements, however.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:28 PM on February 7, 2005

ProTools has no specific disk hardware requirements per se. I can run Pro Tools LE off of a 4200 RPM IDE drive on my laptop with reasonable success. But a 7200 RPM drive is a good idea. Some people swear by Glyph drives. Others will tell you any fast firewire drive is fine.

The 500 GB BigDisks are two disks in a striped RAID mode. Striping without parity reduces reliability: if one drive fails, all striped drives fail.

Isn't it possible to stripe with parity (though of course you'd lose half the space, right?)
posted by weston at 1:16 PM on February 7, 2005

I haven't actually used the LaCie drives, but I've taken a few apart to raid them for the drives inside. I took apart one of the slightly older blue/grey firewire models the other night. They seem flimsy and ill constructed on the inside, with stock drives behind the "Warranty void if broken" seal.

Perhaps they're actually well engineered and reliable, but my geek-sense tingles when I poke at their innards and tells me that they're over-engineered (for cost/profit ratios) and mostly marketing mojo.
posted by loquacious at 1:20 PM on February 7, 2005

i have a 80gb lacie as well as a 80gb buslink, 60gb west dig, and a 60gb generic one... and am a sale-whore i guess :)

the only probs i've had were from the generic drive (warranty honored, but took 3 weeks to replace). the lacie seems no faster/slower more/less reliable than any of my brand name ones
posted by mdpc98 at 1:37 PM on February 7, 2005

I have a 500 gig USB/Firewire model sitting right next to me. I've had no problems with the actual data. However, the drive tends to disappear when doing multiple operations.

For instance, I was just trying to copy some files from the drive while deleting some other files. Halfway through, everything locked up. I had to start over.

This happens to me on both Windows XP and Linux, on two different machines. I use the USB (2.0) interface almost exclusively, so I don't know if the same problem comes up with firewire.

When I'm only doing one operation at a time, it seems to work pretty well.
posted by bh at 1:43 PM on February 7, 2005

you'd only lose 1/3 the space (ish) if you used raid with redundancy (asuming you use the appropriate raid level, can't remember which is which). in effect there are 3 divisions - A, B and A xor B. lose any one and you can replace it from the other two. i find this amazingly cool.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:51 PM on February 7, 2005

If you have a G5, I would suggest buying a larger internal drive (or an additional internal drive) instead. The G5 has serial ATA, which is faster than firewire AFAIK.

If you must get an external drive, Lacie is a pretty good brand. At my place of employment, we almost exclusively buy Promax drives - they are pretty great (with excellent support) for the $$.
posted by sluggo at 5:12 PM on February 7, 2005

I have two LaCie big disk drives, that I use to store video files that I edit in Final Cut Express, and I must say that these drives work great (not a shill, I swear) I've been able to play back video and edit in real time and not have to wait for it to load.

Additionally, I travel a pretty fair amount, and haven't had any trouble (and believe I've shaken these drives a pretty fair amount)...and I remember vaguely that I could get them pretty cheaply through Amazon, or Best Buy.
posted by geryon at 12:19 AM on February 8, 2005

I've got three (two d2's and one of the small Porsche jobs) chained using FW400 to my G5, and they're rock solid. Like geryon, I'm not a shill, just telling you my experience...
posted by ninthart at 3:16 AM on February 8, 2005

Just to add to my previous comment - I, too, am not a shill. I have never had a problem with LaCie drives (and I have seen lots of other brands & generics die), and feel pretty confident in recommending them. HOWEVER: the department that does the most video-related stuff at the Uni where I work swears by ProMax. Since they've had more experience with all the brands out there, I usually defer to them.
posted by sluggo at 7:47 AM on February 8, 2005

I've owned 3 LaCie drives (two USB 2, one Firewire) and I've been very happy with all of them. Fast, quiet, and dependable.
posted by bshort at 8:10 AM on February 8, 2005

Buying your own FireWire cases and drives and putting them together is going to be cheaper, use the same parts (the bridge is the most important, the power supply merely needs to be adequate to the drive you're running), and be basically just as reliable. I don't know that I'd spend any extra money for "name brand" external FireWire drives. You're paying extra for a fancy case, which is the least important part, really.
posted by kindall at 9:18 AM on February 8, 2005

LaCie, obviously, is just rebranding an enclosure and some drives. I understand they're really good at that and stand behind the product they deliver, but does anyone know what actual drives they're putting inside there? For the obvious reasons I'd prefer to avoid Western Digital and Maxtor drives, but nobody (probably for some vague branding reason) ever tells you what they're sticking inside the box.
posted by majick at 1:01 PM on February 8, 2005

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