A good external storage option for $100 and under?
November 28, 2007 6:55 PM   Subscribe

What is a good external HD option for around $100 that focuses on reliability and capacity? Speed is unimportant and I am willing to use an enclosure/internal HD as an option.

OK, I used to build my own PCs but it has been a while and am a little out of the loop... looked at reviews online, but am a bit overwhelmed and I haven't done my own hardware in 7 years or so.

I am looking for an external HD for storage to team up with a pending Ipod Nano purchase. It will mainly be used to store my growing collection of MP3s, photos and such. It need not be fast and should cost around $100 so that the Nano & storage costs combined are similar to the Ipod 80 gig classic.

If I can get more bang for my buck using an enclosure - HD combo, then I will go that route. I would prefer to connect via USB 2 but am willing to look at SCSI on the off-chance it is cheaper. Added firewire connectivity would be a plus since there will be a future move to a mac (I am quite mac illiterate at the moment), but it isn't necessary.

As far as the HD is concerned, storage capacity & reliability are much more important to me than speed. Unit must not be too bulky since it will travel, but 3.5 inch HD is fine. A regular Ipod isn't an option since a flash based player better suits my needs. I am currently using Windows Vista and XP.

I am looking for opinions, pointers to good review sites, etc... Any thoughts?
posted by Empyrean_72 to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I just bought a WD MyBook 320GB external hard drive for just under $100 last week, before Black Friday. It's fantastic.

I also bought a 500GB external drive a few months ago for just under $100. I think it's a Seagate, and it has been great, too.
posted by The World Famous at 7:00 PM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: I recently purchased two 500gb WD MyBook drives. One failed out of the box, and one two months later. Dell was kind enough to return them and credit me for two Seagate FreeAgent disks of the same capacity.

Seagate drives carry a 5 year warranty for a reason. Storagereview.com is your site.
posted by fake at 7:04 PM on November 28, 2007

you should be able to find the older black WD Mybooks for $90 or $100 pretty regularly now, especially as they clean out the stocks to introduce the new glossy white versions.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 7:05 PM on November 28, 2007

Ditto on the MyBook suggestion. I have two of them and they are great. From what I've heard they are very reliable. I've also owned Maxtor and Seagate drives, and the Maxtor one finally died recently.

Also, in my experience even the most reliable HD will eventually die. Therefore, make sure you back everything up! You do not want to lose all of your photos. I would even go as far as to suggest buying two external drives, and just using one to do scheduled backups of the other one.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:08 PM on November 28, 2007

I bought a 500GB LaCie Porsche USB for just under $120 a month or so ago. People either rave or hate them, about like most products. I turn it on, use it, then power it off when I'm not accessing it. No issues at all so far.

I was going to go with a drive/enclosure and assemble myself, but the price difference was $20-30, and I got lazy.
posted by pupdog at 7:10 PM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: Are enclosures as prone to eventual failure as most HD's? I ask because this option is appealing to me because it is cheaper to buy replacement internal HDs. It also appeals to my need to control every minute detail :-)

Re Backup: Money is an issue at the moment as I am unemployed. This will all be a gift from my folks. I am not currently on my own PC (motherboard needs to be replaced) and am using a second HD on my father's PC to hold my files. This new external HD will be my backup for my music & photos, but my father is pressing to get my stuff off his PC eventually. When money isn't an issue again, PC replacement will be the first thing I save for and I am thinking it may be a mac.
posted by Empyrean_72 at 7:42 PM on November 28, 2007

All a commercial external drive is is an enclosure and drive, just factory assembled and (usually) in a prettier case. If you buy a commercial package, you theoretically have a warranty on the whole package, if you buy separate components, you have 2 warranties, and the best deals on parts are usually white-box that may not have the same consumer warranties.

In short, nothing in life is guaranteed, but in this case, the parts are (generally) interchangeable.
posted by pupdog at 8:08 PM on November 28, 2007

The way you address reliability with storage is redundancy. All the drives are generally reliable, which is great until the inevitable failure. Look for an external enclosure that holds two drives and lets you mirror them. Then put two cheap drives in and be worry free. (Or, a lot of the 1TB external drives are actually two 500GB drives, which usually allow you to set them up as 1 big 1TB drive or a redundant 500GB drive.)
posted by knave at 8:23 PM on November 28, 2007

Seconding LaCie. I have two of the Porsche USB 2 ones (a 250GB and a 500GB). One of them is the home of my iTunes library. No issues. They're quiet (in my experience thus far) reliable, and attractive.
posted by wheat at 10:04 PM on November 28, 2007

Just a cursory glance of the electronic ads from the Sunday paper show several external USB drives at many stores under $100. Examples: 500GB at $95....250GB at $75.....160GB at $55. Check newegg.com and Amazon online, Best Buy and other big boxes for local retail purchase. Even Wal-Mart [egad!] has a 160GB small, portable Seagate for under $100.

Good luck!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 10:25 PM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: The WD MyBook ones tend to have a bunch of negative reviews and that is sending flags up for me. My father has a WD external drive (not a MyBook) & is relatively happy, but it just seems to me that I am seeing way more negative reviews on WD drives than others.

I have been perusing the storagereview.com site (thanks for the link, by the way) & it seems that peeps like the seagate/maxtor drives and if memory serves me correctly, I think I used to prefer them too (but things can change after 7 years).

I see 2 pos here for LaCie and I am interested in this drive at the moment. I know little about LaCie other than they used to make wicked good CRTs.

I haven't explored my enclosure/HD options yet.
posted by Empyrean_72 at 10:27 PM on November 28, 2007

I used to recommend the MyBook units unhesitatingly, because they seemed to work great for little cost. That was until a few months ago, when 2 out of the 3 MyBook drives I bought for my office spontaneously failed within weeks of each other.

On the other side of the coin, my experience with the Wiebetech ToughTech Mini drive enclosures has been absolutely impeccable. Yes, it costs more than a cheapie no-name brand, but since you mentioned that reliability is at the top of your criteria for buying a drive, I think it's easily worth the added expense. I've been carrying one of these in my backpack, every day of the week for about a year and a half, and it's still kicking ass. And the size is perfect. super small, USB2/FW400 & FW800 connections, and no need to lug around an annoying power supply, either.

Part of my job includes abusing the fuck out of harddrives (I'm a professional video editor that works with 10-bit uncompressed HD media 8-10 hours a day), and I've learned the hard way that there's no such thing as "reliable" AND "cheap", particularly at a sub $100 level. I know you weren't looking for an annoying lecture on data integrity, but if the information you intend to store is important to you, it's not worth it to cheap out on something as inherently prone to failure as a hard drive.
posted by melorama at 12:43 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have narrowed my choices down to two external HDs...

A Seagate FreeAgent
A LaCie (it's so small & pretty!)

Despite being distracted by the yummy looking LaCie, the Seagate seems to have more consistent reviews, less love/hate.

Now I am rethinking the Nano & have moved on to the Creative Xen V Plus.

Now I am over-analyzing this... Someone stop me. It all has a short halflife *sigh*. Can you see why I stopped building my PC's? My head hurts.
posted by Empyrean_72 at 5:50 PM on November 29, 2007

huh...wouldn't you know it. Almost exactly one month since I posted my last comment, our THIRD MyBook drive spontaneously died.

posted by melorama at 12:49 AM on December 26, 2007

« Older massage therapist in Melbourne   |   Where can I buy good iceskates in Chicago? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.