Recommend a QUIET external hard drive
February 13, 2005 7:22 PM   Subscribe

External hard drive: I need something reliable, solid, and QUIET, in the 120-200GB range. Quiet is key, since it would be predominantly a music server and it's very annoying to have high-pitched hard drive whine in the background of everything I listen to. I'm currently using a LaCie 120GB Firewire drive, and it's been great except for the constant (not aggressively loud, but certainly noticeable) whine. Am I a spoiled brat, or is it possible to get a whisper-quiet external disk? (Tips for silencing or quieting an external drive are also welcomed.)
posted by logovisual to Technology (6 answers total)
When buying external drives from the likes of LaCie, etc, you really have no idea what brand hard drive is inside. Knowing who makes your drive is key to knowing how quiet it is, so the best idea is to just buy a drive and an enclosure to put it in. Right now the quiet hard drive crown belongs to Samsung and their line of drives up to 160GB. Seagate makes drives with higher capacities but they aren't as quiet. Check out Silent PC Review's Recommended Hard Drives. The other part is finding an enclosure that doesn't have a fan. Fortunately the small 3.5" enclosures are generally too small to accommodate a fan. Still double check the pictures to make sure there isn't one on the back. (All product links go to Newegg for your shopping convenience)
posted by zsazsa at 8:19 PM on February 13, 2005

Sorry, one more thing: drives get hot, so make sure you get an enclosure that has a decent amount of metal on it so it can dissapate the heat the drive generates. Also, if you're getting a Firewire drive, your best bet is with an enclosure with an Oxford chipset; they're the most reliable and quite fast. If you want USB, most perform decently but some are flaky. The Cypress AT2 chipset is reliable but not very fast. Prolific can be flaky, especially with Firewire, but there are firmware updates that fix most problems.
posted by zsazsa at 8:23 PM on February 13, 2005

Storage review does very in depth reviews. They measure everything, including dB.

If you're just going to be playing music off the drives, you might just want to go with a 5400RPM drive. It's definitely slower than any faster RPM drive, but I would think that they would be quieter (better check first).
posted by easyasy3k at 9:09 PM on February 13, 2005

Hard disk: Seagate Barracuda, hands down. I have a 400 GB Barracuda and it's amazingly quiet and fast.

Case: I have this one from Mac-Pro. It's a wee bit noisy but with this case, it's trivial to jigger the fan so it runs off 7V rather than 12V. This makes it a lot quieter and yes, it still cools plenty adequately even with two drives installed. Sure you just have the one drive for now, but when you need more storage, you won't need a new enclosure. And it's FireWire 800 (comes with an adapter so it can be run on FW 400). So if you have a G5, it leaves all your FW 400 plugs free and is a wee bit faster as a bonus.

BTW, hard disks do need air flow, but they don't need THAT MUCH airflow. In fact it's really amazing how little they need. What you can do in a pinch is to run the drive with the top off of the case. Position the drive behind your computer's exhaust fan.
posted by kindall at 9:23 PM on February 13, 2005

I have an Iomega 120GB HDD and it is very quiet - I had to hold it up to my ear to hear the little fan thingys whirring away.
posted by mlis at 9:43 PM on February 13, 2005

I have a Western Digital 240GB in a Metal Gear Box enclosure. There's no fan but the drive doesn't get hot. It's quiet. I'd recommend it.
posted by muckster at 12:04 AM on February 14, 2005

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