Need a new external hard drive
November 20, 2011 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Need a new external hard drive.

What's the best external that meets the following requirements:

-Portable (basically looking for a laptop form factor drive that can be powered solely by USB. External power source not an option)

-Huge (I'd like literally as much space as possible given the above limitation

So pretty straight forward. Assume money is no object. I'm competent maintaining my own data, so bundled software is not a concern. Bonus points if the casing is snazzy.
posted by Patbon to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know what constitutes "huge," but I've had great luck with Western Digital's Passport drives. They run off USB 2.0 and the largest I've used is 1 TB. As an Apple user, these drives are plug-and-play simple for me.
posted by cribcage at 8:37 PM on November 20, 2011

Best answer: You can get 1.5 terabyte drives from and other retailers. They aren't common, but they should be available.

For RAID bus powered drives, OWC sells 2 terabyte configurations. In fact, they have lots of ways to spend your money. 960GB SSD Raid? Sure, for a price.
posted by blob at 8:41 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've had great luck with Western Digital.
posted by manicure12 at 8:44 PM on November 20, 2011

I have a 1TB Western Digital hard drive for my video hoarding ways. It's usb powered, and, including the neoprene case I keep it in, is approximately the size of a small sandwich. I recommend.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:53 PM on November 20, 2011

I'm looking for one, myself, and I'm looking at the Oyen U32 Shadow, which is a mini portable hard drive powered by a USB 3.0-capable connection, but it can also support USB 2.0.

If you can find one, perhaps you can get the older UN2 online, but it's been discontinued by the manufacturer.

No, it's not exactly cheap, but this looks be extremely portable.
posted by droplet at 9:12 PM on November 20, 2011

Best answer: Personally, I'd lean away from the WD Passport drives (mainly because of the execrable software & annoyingly hard-to-delete "rescue" partition they come with), and lean towards the WD Elements Portable drives.

Note that they're all currently going up in price & becoming hard to get because of the flooding they had in Thailand.
posted by Pinback at 9:17 PM on November 20, 2011

My WD passport 1tb malfunctioned the other day, out of the blue. I have 800gb of stuff on it. I recommend going for the same drive but be extra careful because they are very very delicate.
posted by naskar at 9:33 PM on November 20, 2011

If you want bus-powered drives (no additional AC adapter, powered from the USB bus), you need to look at 2.5" drives. The 3.5" drives require additional power beyond what can be pulled from USB.

That really narrows the field. It looks like you can do 1.5TB for about $125-150, based on a quick search on Newegg. Seagates appear to be the cheapest and I've had reasonably good luck with them, although I wouldn't carry anything around on one that wasn't backed-up elsewhere.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:42 PM on November 20, 2011

As my piece of anecdata, I had a Western Digital external HD fail in less than a year, taking my back-ups and my entire music collection with it.

I now have two Seagate externals and they've been solid so far. They also look good, but if you really want snazzy, look into the LaCie drives designed by Porsche.
posted by Georgina at 10:50 PM on November 20, 2011

I've had about six portable external drives and every single one has failed and lost data after one year or less. I've also had 20 or so non-portable external drives and about a quarter of those have failed.

So... Based on that, I'd suggest you get the cheapest decent one you can find, treat it like the fragile goose egg that it is, back it up regularly, and expect it to fail.

Or do what I do and get a SATA dock. You can use laptop drives or full-sized ones in there, it's reasonably portable, and both the dock and the drives are cheap to replace. It separates the drive interface (in the dock) from the drive -- it was the interface that failed on 2/3 of the drives mentioned above. I use several of these and some padded drive cases and haven't had a failure yet.
posted by mmoncur at 11:37 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I purchased a USB3 2.5" enclosure direct from a company on ebay, and then the biggest sata 2.5" drive I could find and I use it daily. I went usb3 because for moving files that big, speed justified the cost bump. It's tiny, and actually has 2 usb dongles in case the onboard drive needs more power. (Mine doesn't, and so I've been thinking of chopping off the extra cable.)

The WD elements drives are small and handy, but sweet baby jesus are they slow, I can't imagine using one for consistently moving data. I relegated mine to holding my wii games on my modified wii and loathe putting new games on it because it takes 500 years.

I did just buy a seagate 2 terabyte full-size external that does require external power. I got it at WalMart, and I have no idea why but it was only $79---floods in Thailand are screwing up HD prices right now. Another walmart had the same drive for $119 this weekend. It's also USB3, I use it for my media server at home. I've been very happy with it.
posted by TomMelee at 6:39 AM on November 21, 2011

I dropped my Western Digital Elements 1TB drive three feet onto a hard floor and it survived intact, along with its data. For that alone I give it a recommendation. Caveat: It's a slightly older model that features rubberized corners, which the current model doesn't appear to have.
posted by bassomatic at 6:52 AM on November 21, 2011

For huge, Buy a external hd enclosure and buy the biggest 2.5" drive . Cheap and easy.

If you can, delay your hd purchase considering the big names WD and Seagate have their offices under water. Article 1
posted by radsqd at 1:57 PM on November 21, 2011

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