Help me with my hard-drive indecisiveness!
September 9, 2012 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Which is the best way to store and access my digital DVD collection?

I *finally* backed up all of my DVD's (movies and tv shows) onto the hard-drive of my desktop computer, but I would like to put those files onto their own separate drive. I am trying to decide between a 1TB Western Digital Passport ($89) or a 1TB Western Digital 2.5" Internal Notebook HD ($96) and then getting a external hard-drive enclosure to put it in. I am leaning towards the WD Passport because of the price, USB 3.0 and because it's pretty darn small, but it seems like it is better used for intermittent back-ups, rather than a media server (but I could be totally wrong on that front). It won't be accessed all the time, only when I feel like watching something (say, a 2 hour movie or a few episodes of a show).

So Mefites, which hard-drive would be the best option for me? Is there another option that I am not thinking of? Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by littlesq to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
If you have only one computer you usually use, and don't often go to "movie night" at a friends, an internal will do just fine and give you the best price and performance you'll find.

That said, an external gives you a LOT more flexibility. And I wouldn't go with USB, I'd go with a low-end NAS, like the Buffalostation or WD MyBook. A NAS will cost you around a $50 premium over a USB drive, but they have advantages (and some disadvantages) that make them well worth the extra cost.

Also, consider going with a 2TB because right now those drives occupy the "sweet" spot in HDD pricing - No longer the biggest you can get, and just past their prime; so, you'll pay only about 10% more for literally double the capacity.
posted by pla at 3:52 PM on September 9, 2012

One downside of the Passport is that it uses a proprietary connector inside the case, so if something goes wrong that doesn't actually damage the disk itself (say, you bend something in the usb port) you won't be able to pop the drive out and put it in another case. I learned this the hard way—the older models weren't like this.
posted by bcwinters at 3:56 PM on September 9, 2012

Best answer: If you value your files, make sure you have backups of your media files before you transfer anything to an external hard drive. These devices--including the WD Passport--have high failure rates.

I transferred my 800GB digital video collection onto a 1TB Western Digital Passport for use as a media server. Two day later, a common glitch occurred that corrupted the drive, causing file transfer speeds to slow to ~100k/s. It took two months to move the files off the hard drive (transfers timed out every 500MB or so), and I very nearly lost my entire video and music collection.

Wiser from the experience, I purchased a Synology DS212J NAS Server and installed two 3TB hard drives configured as a RAID volume. It's a great solution. I can stream the files on any device (locally on TVs via my Xbox and PCs, remotely on mobile devices and web browsers), and the RAID keeps the files secure--when a hard drive fails, you just pop it out, add another, and the files are automatically copied over (two WD drives have failed thus far).
posted by prinado at 4:53 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think it's worth getting an NAS, if for no other reason than because most of them come with the ability to back up your computer regularly and automatically. My computers all get backed up every morrning on my Windows Home Server. But if the WHS wasn't doing it, my other NAS could be set up the same way.

In addition, both of my NAS's are using redundant storage. The WHS uses a Microsoft mirroring mechanism which guarantees that every important file is kept redundantly on two different drives. The other NAS, which is based on Linux, is using RAID 1.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:37 PM on September 9, 2012

Response by poster: The consensus is pointing towards getting a NAS drive, so that is something I am highly considering. Along with videos, I have irreplaceable photographs and artwork stored on my computer (and backed up on a WD Passport and another older drive), so a NAS w/ two 3TB hard drives set up with RAID 1 sounds like a really good idea*.

Thanks everybody for your input!

*The best way to set it up will be an Ask question for another day :P
posted by littlesq at 8:40 PM on September 9, 2012

The best way is to buy an NAS which already has two drives in it and is configured properly. That's how my second unit came, and it works fine.

My WHS came with a single drive and three empty bays, but adding drives to Windows Home Server is ridiculously easy, and right now all four bays are full. On this particular unit it's especially easy because the drives get installed into caddies and go into the server through slots in the front.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:16 PM on September 9, 2012

(My particular units aren't sold any more; I linked to them so you could see typical choices. There are current products available which are comparable to both.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:18 PM on September 9, 2012

I love Synology and have two of them now, but I must mini-lecture: RAID is not backup, it is availability. Buy a NAS, but also get something you put in a fire safe after running a weekly backup of the NAS.

Yes, it is expensive buying a NAS and 3 drives (2 in the NAS, 1 for backup) to hold 1 drive of data. Until you consider losing the data because of an errant delete, or a lightning strike.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:41 AM on September 10, 2012

Amazon glacier for the irreplaceable photographs. Offsite backups (I.e., take the external hard drive, put it in a static proof bag, and take it into your office) every six months or so for everything that's very difficult to replace. CrashPlan and/or redundant, automated (but not instantaneous) backups to or from the NAS for everything else. RAID is not a backup.
posted by gd779 at 6:45 AM on September 10, 2012

I must clarify something. RAID, by itself, is not a backup. No situation where you have only one copy of a file is a backup.

Are you running out of space on the hard drive in your computer? Why do you want to remove your content from it?

I was in your situation (or similar enough) and got a Synology NAS (that company rocks) and signed up for the BackBlaze network backup service. It runs automatically and just backs up all my stuff to their servers. They do some really great things with their technology to keep their prices low and steady ($50 / year).

I keep all my content in my internal drive, so I am not sure if network storage services can backup from a NAS (I know they can from a USB or other hard wired drive).

If money is an issue, start with a backup service and save up for a home storage solution.
posted by reddot at 6:14 AM on September 11, 2012

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