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Customer Discussions > External Hard Drive forum

Best / Reliable 500GB to 1TB External Hard Drive for Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 systems

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Showing 1-25 of 70 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 13, 2010, 10:54:11 AM PST
Fitzpaw says:
What manufacturer and specific model number for an external hard drive can be recommended to back up home based files, photos and music? Should I focus on 7200 RPM systems? How about Firewaire vs. USB2? Thanks in advance for unbiased technical recommendations.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2010, 9:54:08 AM PST
Tom B says:
Over the past 10 years I've used a lot of outboard drives, first for my music -- 1,900 albums, all copied in full WAV format, 500 GB each -- and now my photos. I shoot only RAW photos, and then Photoshop all of them, and I like to save the PSD files so I can go back and tweak the images later.

All that adds up to a LOT of disk storage. While there are no perfect drives, I've settled on LaCie as the best for these purposes. I started with Maxtor those years ago, and they lasted about three years before going to the big disk farm in the sky. Then I played around with the WD My Book and LaCie drives. Both are good, but LaCie has the edge in sturdiness and compact design. I have about twelve Big Disks, which are great. The first two 500 GB Big Disks failed within a week, and were promptly replaced by LaCie. I bought them through Amazon, but service is through the manufacturer, whose service is very good. A year later one the 1 TB Big Disks failed, and LaCie promptly fixed it. It's a good company.

The WD My Book gets less use, only as a backup, but after five years is still working fine. It's fatter and bulkier, and takes up more precious office space.

Most recently, I've gotten three LaCie 1 TB USB 2.0 Neil Poulton drives. They're great! They're my favorites so far. They're small, sleek, quiet and fast. AND inexpensive.

The interface is a big question. I started out using only Firewire 400. It's good. Then I gambled on USB,'s good! Now, with USB 2.0, I think it's all you need for music and photos. Maybe gamers need a quicker interface, but not for photos or music. Given that USB 2.0 drives are less expensive, that's good. I recommend going the USB 2.0 route.

No matter what you buy, here's the most important thing: BUY THREE OF THEM! I am quite serious. You've heard that "it's not if your drives will fail, it's when." So true! It could be in one or two weeks, or a year (I've had both) or in 3 to 5 years (ditto.) Picture this scenario, a true tale. Your 1 TB hard disk fails, loaded with years of music files and precious photos. Gone, toast, no more. Years of data, maybe your wedding or daughter's graduation, lost and gone. buy a new blank disk, plug in your backup, and copy the backed up files. You DO back up, don't you? OK, then: while you're copying the backup files...the BACKUP drive fails! Gone, toast, no more! Then what? If you're like me, you stare at the two busted drives for a long minute, take a deeep breath, and get the SECOND backup disk out of the closet, restore your files, buy another disk and populate it, and thank your stars you had the foresight to buy an extra drive.

Put it another way: if you suddenly lost all your family photos and your music, how much would you pay, to anyone, to get your files back? Would you pay the price of an extra blank disk? You bet!

To sum up: As of 2010, you will not regret getting 3 of the LaCie Neil Poulton 1 TB drives. Amazon has a great price on them, plus free shipping if you have Prime. For all but the most heavy commercial applications, you do not need Firewire. USB 2.0 is plenty.

Hope this helps. Best of luck,

Tom B

Posted on Jan 21, 2010, 9:31:46 AM PST
I 100% agree with Tom's comment and feedback but learnt it in a hard way..

Recently, my storage drive wasn't responding, all my kids home videos and photos when they born were stored in them....i thought i lost them..but luckily its my hard drive enclosure had a problem, replaced the enclosure and Thank hard drive started working fine. Then I decided I wil back up data in multiple drives so that I will be safe and sound. If it is important data, burning into disk is not a bad option.

Posted on Jan 21, 2010, 9:45:04 AM PST
Fitzpaw says:
Tom B,

Your sage comment make perfect sense so what specific LaCie Neil Poulton 1 TB drive model do you recommend? Several are available so I want to ensure that I buy the correct recommended model. Thank you for your time and opinion,

Bill F

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2010, 6:12:09 PM PST
Tom B, You are a SAINT!!! I'm a new customer for an external HD and
with the same MO as you, but less so. You have saved me from MAJOR future grief!!! THANKS for taking the time to help us newbies!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2010, 11:22:32 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 25, 2010, 11:23:13 AM PST]

Posted on Jan 28, 2010, 11:49:25 PM PST
vilprin says:
Does anyone know if the Samsung Story Station 1tb external hard drive is compatible with Windows 7 64-bit computers?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2010, 6:34:03 AM PST
Doom says:
The drive works but the backup software supplied by samsung doest work. I am using Samsung Story Station 1.5 tb Hard drive with Win 7 professional 64 bit.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2010, 12:27:09 PM PST
vilprin says:

Just to clarify: So there is no problem in eliminating the uncompatible samsung software?

You're just manually backing up your work/files into the Samsung StoryStation?

Thanks for you help!

Posted on Feb 9, 2010, 11:35:15 AM PST
Has anyone compared or have any info relating to the pros and cons of External HD MFG's Verbatim and Seagate as to their reliability and Tech Support...IE: I called Verbatim asked about their 500g unit model 96638 and IF it would run in a Vista 64 bit environment....He/She knew not/had no knowledge of my questions at all!!..????sigh...Any comments would be appreciated, Thanks,

Posted on Feb 21, 2010, 11:21:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 21, 2010, 11:40:22 PM PST
A customer says:
While I am having a problem with an eSATA enclosure...and all the main brands of hard drives, they all seem to have poor C.Support. At the moment I am done with Samsung products due to having a nice LCD monitor take a dive just short of the 1 year warranty. I mailed it to the repair center, they sent me back the monitor while working, was all scratched up and have 33+ dead pixels. Back it went and about 4 months later and MANY phone calls I got it back (well another refurbished one). It looks better but is still not 100% clear compared to the original monitor. I gave up my fight. Samsung sucks. Seagate has been okay w/ a HDD replaced at no cost and was quickly shipped free of charge. WD, I've had tons of them, they work generally great but when they start to go bad, they really do quickly die. Maxtor has been the worst ever. Fujitsu drives seem ok as well, but havnt used many and never called CS.. I like Seagate, I have an old 500mb SCSI drive from when the Pentiums just came out, and it (drive) still works perfectly. I've gone thru other companys aswell, but over the past, I mainly use Seagate drives & build my own externals. I'll say it again, I've gone thru stacks upon stacks of hard drives over the years, WD's as I said seem to just click and die when they fail, my 1 (only 1 out of piles of SG's) Seagate drive that started to fail never died, I just used a low-level scan/reader/extractor app to pull off every file to another drive, and only like 1 or 2 files were semi-corrupted, it was a 160GB IDE full of files I wanted back. Got them, and recieved a replacemet within a week. If I remember correctly, Seagate has a 5 year warranty, WD 3 years... Some of the mentioned drives from posts here I have never used. Is Maxtor even still around? Man I hated their drives, very high failure rate.

Sorry for drifting a bit OT, Tom B's post was right on. While I don't use 3 drives, it's a wise idea..then there are RAID failures (major headache time). What I often do at various intervals is make an image, and place the image on several larger HDDs. *Acronis* works well for backing up, been using it for so many years now and has never failed to make a clone/image & is quite fast and flexible. As for running an O/S off a drive, any drive should work. Given your CMOS will allow you to boot from it, as in externals...does it see USB? Does it see eSATA etc? If so, booting off one will work.

Also as someone else mentioned, burning your photos and other precious data is near fail safe..heck burn several if needed and store them away. CD/DVD/BR discs will not go bad, at least in our life time.

Posted on Feb 24, 2010, 5:30:22 AM PST
Jeffrey L. says:
Hi All,

I have had good experiences with Western Digital "Elements" drives (low cost) and Iomega (more stylish). Both have been reliable for me.

Here's my backup policy in case anyone is interested:
1. There's the main PC drive of course and I always have two backup drives. I keep one backup at the office (in case the house burns down!)
2. I backup all my data at least once a month and then swap that drive with the one in the office. So even if TWO drives fail I still have my stuff. If the house burns down AND my office backup fails then someone is clearly out to get me and I have bigger problems than data recovery.
3. I care *much* more about my data (writing/family photos/video/music) than about the OS or programs. Consequently I do individual file-sync backups regularly but I only do a drive image maybe once or twice a year.
4. I use freeware or open-source utilities (currently MS-Synctoy fits my needs perfectly). Any proprietary backup software on the external drive gets deleted. I don't compress/zip my data -- compressing takes lots of time and I'd rather have one corrupt file than a corrupted archive -- plus huge drives are pretty cheap these days so there's no need.


Posted on Feb 25, 2010, 3:24:04 AM PST
booklover50 says:
Hi all, I'm new to learning about backing things up. I have never had an external drive. Currently i burn my digital photos to a DVD and then store them in a case. If the house burns down, the photos will be one of the last things on my mind. Keeping my family safe and getting new shelter will occupy my mind.

My concern now, is how do I back up all my music? Probably about 30 gb worth. I use WMP 11 and run Windows XP.

If my docs and programs get wiped out by a HD crash - bummer. But if all my tunes get wiped out - I'm looking for a tall bridge to jump off! ;-) So, suggestions on backing on my tunes? I imagine some sort of small (500mg) external HD. I don't want to burn DVD's. Managing the photo library via DVD's is enough work.

HP's Simple Save seems to get mixed reviews. On the surface, it appears what would work well for me as I am horrible at finding and organizing things. It appears that their software automatically does that for you. But, I imagine there is third party software that probably does the same thing and might even do it better.

Help please. I desire a quick and easy (I have limited time and limited patience to learn a new and potentially frustrating learning curve) and inexpensive way to save my tunes in the event of an internal HD crash.

Thanks in advance.

Dean, from the middle of Kansas

Posted on Feb 25, 2010, 8:02:38 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 25, 2010, 8:23:34 AM PST
Ronda says:
this is EXACTLY what I was looking for--and it comes with a built in cooling system
which I feel is important.
if the link above doesn't work--go to lacie dot com then search product 11016
it is $119. on their website

I just bought a Lacie 1TB for 106.00 shipped here on amazon
will buy 2 more next month...per Tom's request ;-)
LaCie Grand 1 TB USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive 301897KUA

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2010, 8:26:05 AM PST
Ronda says:
Dean, I would listen to Tom
your music is soooo worth $106 right?
LaCie Grand 1 TB USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive 301897KUA

Posted on Feb 25, 2010, 9:19:20 AM PST
booklover50 says:
OK. LaCie -- the best quality external - correct?
Now, the other pieces of the puzzle.
Software and transfer (I assume USB would be fine - although my PC does have EEE in addition to USB)

So, the big question now is -- EASY to use software that will help me get and stay organized. Like that HP SimpleSave that comes with their external HD. If you have the time and interest - could you look at that screen shot here at Amazon? It looks amazingly simple. Maybe too simple? It got mixed reviews. Some loved it. Some didn't. Thanks again.

Posted on Mar 5, 2010, 7:49:20 AM PST
xyz says:
I have just the opposite experience with La Cie. I bought two of them for multiple backups and they both failed.

They were smaller drives, though. They LOOK good, but they are just bricks now. Someday I'll take them to the disk doctor and get the data off them.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2010, 10:53:57 AM PST
Robert Cole says:
Good idea to backup onto multiple drives; just make sure you aren't using a RAID which relies on ALL drives working for the data to be safe. Generally, hard drives are inappropriate for archiving. You might want to look into Blu-ray or even LTO tape (my choice).

Posted on Mar 13, 2010, 11:36:53 AM PST
booklover50 says:
Good lord! Now it is really getting complicated! Blue Ray or even LTO tape? I have no idea what LTO tape is . . .

Software: what do I use to get all my tunes and misc over to the other drive? Something that will plug and play and organize my scattered mess that is currently on my PC HD. Thank you.

Posted on Mar 16, 2010, 9:34:23 AM PDT
MissTeeVA says:
I thought that doing research on external drives would help me make a better choice. Instead, it's gotten me very confused. I've never bought an external drive before, outside my little 4 GB flash drive. I'm trying to read reviews on Amazon, and folks have so many mixed reviews. Just like it was mentioned in some of the earlier posts, I've read reviews saying LaCie (at least the D2 Quadra drives) were DOA and the customer service was terrible. Read Transcend was good on one site, then read those were bad on amazon. I've read folks were disappointed with WD quality and that WD replaces bad drives with refurbished ones, then those die. I've been to web sites like CNET and PC Mag where the editors rave about a drive, then you read user reviews and everyone craps on the drive. I also didn't know that these drives were so unstable. It sounds like they'll die if you breathe on them too hard. So what's the sense in spending a lot of money? And if the recommendation of having 2 or 3 backup drives is really necessary, then that just doubles or triples the expense.

One thing I haven't heard you all address from the original question. Is rpm extremely important? The portable drives seem to mostly be 5400 unless you're ready to spend a lot. I would think it's better to get 7200 rpm, but is it really worth it? And that's another thing: some drives get good reviews for their USB connections, but bad reviews for firewire or esata. So the drives may promise these great speeds, but can't really deliver.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2010, 11:28:36 AM PDT
Mtn Sunshine says:
Western Digital WD Elements 1 TB USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive WDBAAU0010HBK-NESN
I know exactly what you mean!! I can't give any review yet, but I just got the one linked here and a friend got a similar portable one...we totally independently came up with the same brand/model as having the best reviews...not even WD's website says what the RPM is, tho I too was told to go with 7200--however, the reviewers seem happy with the speed even tho it is also only USB 2.0. It seemed to me that the smaller ones had generally had better reviews and started having problems when they got larger, esp. the 1.5TB...this also seemed a good price for the 1TB...we'll see!!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2010, 6:13:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2010, 6:18:27 AM PDT
T. Henson says:
In regards to 7200 vs 5400 drive speed. All you are talking about is latency. Which is probably minimal if you are coping sequential blocks of data. Basically only 2 things affect drive performance latency and access time. There are some cases when a slow drive speed can actually improve drive performance. It's all based on the location of the read/write head when the next command comes in. Either way, the overall performance will not be all that much different IMO.

In regards to buying 3 of them. I would never do that because technology changes to fast. Drives like to be used. It does no good to have drives sitting on the shelf rusting up just waiting for one to go bad. Also costs per byte and performance contiune to move in your favor IMO.

A more important difference would be USB 2.0 vs Esata. Personally I would prefer a drive with both interfaces.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2010, 7:26:33 AM PDT
booklover50 says:
Excellent points Mr. Henson. Thank you. Based on the thoughts of a much respected/knowledgeable tech dude, I purchased a Clickfree ex HD 500mg. Software is built into it. It had 92 reviews and was rated 4.5 stars (the few negs seemed like they didn't know what the HD was for and/or they might have got a RARE lemon that would have been easily solvable by returning the item). A plug and go for computers dummies like me. Many of the reviews mentioned excellent customer service from Clickfree. So, my search is done. Yeah! Too much info for my small little brain to process.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2010, 4:14:25 PM PDT
How absolutely true. I've been researching this all over the place for 2 days since my WD 500 died (by mistake downloading to this drive instead of primary -- download got interrupted and the WD now just says 'click click click'). To replace these drives -- Data Doctor wanted about $1200. Duh? I have 80% on DVD but unfortunately didn't back up anything since December and I did a lot of video/photo work in January and February. I don't think the WD is 3-year warranty -- more like 2 years or less. I wanted to get a Fantom with all the good reviews but found out it was a WD drive. I have an older Maxtor (which hasn't gotten great reviews here) for some backup and never a problem.

So, why doesn't everyone just replace their internal drives with two large ones?? Use one for backup? Mine have never failed after 7 years and get lots of use. Yes, I've crashed my system files 3 times and had to restore my C drive -- but that's not where I keep these things I want to keep forever.

So far it looks like I should try the LaCie. I notice many of those that get high ratings have like only 11 reviews -- so really 4 bad out of 11 is not great. However with the LaCie 10 bad out of 200 is good.

Posted on Apr 7, 2010, 2:53:44 PM PDT
Dale says:
I disagree with T. Henson about ignoring extra drives for backup. Technology doesn't change so fast as to automatically make additional backups obsolete and irrecoverable as technology progresses. You can simply transfer the backed up data to newer, and hopefully more reliable sources in the future. Since most 1TB external storage drives are under $100 these days, the cost isn't so signifigant compared with the potential loss of data if you only have one backup drive, and it fails on you. Your backup technology will always need upgrading since no method is currently distruction proof. Having additional backups, whether a Hard drive, Optical disk (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray), or flash memory based should always be an option.
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