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Data Storage Portables Hardware

Full Featured Pocket Hard Drives? 101

Posted by Cliff
from the numerous-gigs-in-the-palm-of-your-hand dept.
Lifix asks: "I've recently been asked to be caregiver to about 150 Apple desktops. While building my software kit to handle these machines, I realized that I would need a good portable hard drive to restore the machines from when they crashed. Cost really isn't an issue but I only need enough room for 3 partitions each with restore images of less than 10 gigs, so a 40g drive would be fine. It doesn't have to be designer, it just has to work. Does anyone have any suggestions/experience with a drive thats going to be a small form factor (throw it in my messenger bag/toolkit), reliable, bootable, 7200 rpm (!important!) and support Firewire400/800 and USB 2.0?"
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Full Featured Pocket Hard Drives?

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  • Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DeathFromSomewhere (940915) on Saturday January 21, 2006 @03:33PM (#14527863)
    1. Buy 2 1/2" hard drive. 2. Buy USB enclosure. 3. Assemble 4. ??? 5. Profit!
    • Have to agree. I have an old 40GB hard drive from a Toshiba Satellite and a five quid USB enclosure from eBay that works just fine.
      • I have an old 40GB hard drive from a Toshiba Satellite

        Please, please, please - stay away from Toshiba drives. I love Toshiba stuff, and have had many Toshiba notebooks, but their current drives totally suck. We bought two Toshiba laptops 2 years ago, and we're now on drive #5 between the two. They last about a year and then crap out totally. On the other hand, I have a 6 year old Toshiba with a good drive, so I won't say that Toshiba is all junk. I just think that their most recent drives are crap.

        • Toshiba don't use only Toshiba drives, they also use HGST and seagate drives..
        • I have a R100 i bought in the spring of 04. Apart from changing the motherboard because of the faulty built in memory (that i got replaced for free), it's the same machine as when i bought it. The harddrive is fine and i've used this computer about roughly 8 hours a day on average (counting a bit less time on weekdays and much more time on weekends). But i have heard complaints about Toshibas sometimes, the R100 is quite a premium machine (the second most expensive machine when i bought it) so i guess it ha
          • i've used this computer about roughly 8 hours a day on average

            What's interesting is that my laptop runs 24x7, whereas my business partner's machine runs more like 12-16 hours per day. I burnt out my drive earlier than he did, but not by much. If things continue the way they have, his drive should die in the next few months.

            I returned my last drive under warranty (by about two weeks) and noticed that there's a sticker on the side of the Toshiba drive that says "The rattling noise that you hear is typic

    • Great. Now tell me how you expect to boot a Mac off of a USB drive?
    • I've put together a bunch of those. A very nice recovery tool and much nicer to use than a thumbdrive. Takes about five minutes to put together.
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by tsa (15680) on Saturday January 21, 2006 @03:33PM (#14527866) Homepage
    Come on man, Apples never crash. Everybody knows that!
    • Re:What? (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They do now, since they now use Intels and can run Microsoft OSes.
  • Steep requirements (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Saturday January 21, 2006 @03:36PM (#14527880)
    Does this really require an Ask Slashdot? For crying out loud, just go to Best Buy or Fry's and buy one. I'm sure the crazy fanboys will tell you to go out and buy a 40GB Video iPod to use as a bootable drive, but just save your money and buy a 100GB portable external firewire hard drive. Go to the MacMall website or something and you'll probably find a dozen different external firewire portable drives.
    • by tsa (15680) on Saturday January 21, 2006 @03:39PM (#14527894) Homepage
      I actually bought one of these today at Aldi (a German store that also has shops in Holland). 250 GB for 139 euros!
      • by Anonymous Coward
        How much is that in real money?
        • by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Saturday January 21, 2006 @03:45PM (#14527930)
          How much is that in real money?

          95.23 pounds.

        • A bit less than 20000 yen.
        • by tsa (15680)
          139 euros.
      • I would never rely on a piece of hardware (or *anything*) bought in Aldi. I mean, have you ever even looked at what they're selling?
        • by tsa (15680)
          Yes. I know quite a few people who have been using Aldi computers (Medion) for years without anything breaking down. That hardware is really good.
        • I would never rely on a piece of hardware (or *anything*) bought in Aldi. I mean, have you ever even looked at what they're selling?

          Yes, and the components that I've seen listed on the spec sheets of the machines sold by both Aldi and Lidl are pretty good - Seagate discs, Samsung memory, ASUS motherboards, Sony optical drives, etc. You'd be hard pressed to put together a machine of similar spec yourself, and that's excluding the software (which, given this is /. may actually have negative value) and warra

    • by toddbu (748790)
      Does this really require an Ask Slashdot?

      Since when has it been a crime to ask for hardware recommendations on Slashdot? I was thinking about submitting a request to see what people though would be a good replacement for a LaserJet 6L based on user experience. I would hope that I'd get something other than a moronic response like this.

      • re: Replacing that Laserjet 6L

        Answer: Virtually any printer on the market.

        The printer sitting on my Desk is a Brother HL-1440 -- seperate tonor cartridge and print drum to save on costs, still works fine after four years (although it could use a new tonor cartridge and some cleaning), built-in USB and Parallell. $140 three years ago.

        In that same price range, Brother has a personal laser printer with a built-in print server and standard duplexing. If my Brother dies, it's the one I'm picking up.
      • by bleaknik (780571)
        I'd recommend the Samsung line of cheap laser printers. I have a ML-1710, and it prints amazing prints quickly and the toner lasts forever. I paid $100 for the machine, but the replacement toner cartridges run $60. Although, this model has been replaced by the ML-2010?

        Also, if you shop around you can get their color laser printer for $300 or so...

        Noteworthy piece of information: these printers are definitely not business class printers. If you do a heavy amount of printing... Go with something a wee m
    • by mnmn (145599)
      I was about to say the same thing... theres too many Shop-by-slashdot these days.

      I realize many of my recent posts are sarcastic answers to extremely obvious questions posted on slashdot. That makes me wonder if slashdot is more about more novice geeks (oh boy, 64-bit! twice as fast!), than specialized people who work in their respective fields.

      To get a harddisk enclosure, I'd first google the terms, calculate rate-of-transfers for usb, firewire etc, check prices on tigerdirect, do a quick look at ebay and
      • I realize many of my recent posts are sarcastic answers to extremely obvious questions posted on slashdot. That makes me wonder if slashdot is more about more novice geeks (oh boy, 64-bit! twice as fast!), than specialized people who work in their respective fields.

        Well, you can be specialized and work in a specific field without knowing much about computers. I mean 'nerd' != 'computer geek'...

        Why do you answers these posts instead of just ignore them? Apparently there are people on /. thet find these posts
    • Video ipods (& also 4th gens) don't support firewire, thus aren't bootable on macs.
  • by CliffH (64518)
    I would have thought this was a no brainer. My only question is why you are so stuck on the 7200rpm condition? Personally, I get by beautifully on a 30GB hard drive running at 5400rpm in a little noname USB2.0 enclosure for reimaging. Granted, I reimage Linux and Windows boxes but that doesn't really make a difference. Then again, if money is no object, there are plenty of Firewire enclosures out there for 2.5" drives and a good, fast, 7200rpm drive you should look at would probably be at the Seagate websit
  • I'm only recommending Thinkgeek's drive enclosure [thinkgeek.com] because you said cost is not an option. Where can I get thinkgeek like stuff in Canada without mad shipping costs? Anyone?
    • Thinkgeek are idiots, pure and simple. They basically refuse to sell to foreigners.

      A few months ago ordered 10 or so of their T Shirts. My VISA card was perfectly valid. First, after a few days the put my order on hold. Then they sent me email demanding I send them photo id. So I scanned my Personalausweis and sent it to them. The next day they demanded I send them the backside of that as well. So I scanned the backside of my Personalausweis and sent it to them as well. Then they demanded I scan my credit c
  • Presently, due to mutually incompatable partition formats, it might not be possible to set up a single hard disk that can boot up traditional Macs (whether 68k or PPC) and the new Intel-based Macs. Unless this is resolved, it's going to be a bit of a pain in the ass for the next couple of years.
  • Wiebetech makes some solid enclosures: http://www.wiebetech.com/ [wiebetech.com]
    • I have several products from Wiebetech and they're all pretty solid. (I still can't get to their main web site from China though, so no links below, sorry).

      I have several drive docks which are quite useful for reading raw drives from other computers.

      I also have a 3.5" fw400 drive. It has two fw400 ports too, so you can daisy chain from it. It also has a power supply socket (uses bus power normally), in case you want to put a big drive in that takes too much power (I haven't had that problem yet with fw, but
    • $119 for the empty carrier, $238 for one with a 60GB HD. And they still have the Chutzbah to charge extra for a power supply.

      Go spend $30-50 for the carrier at any computer store. Make sure it has a Win and mac compatibility logo on it.

      I have a couple of carriers that have worked great for me on XP systems and Linux systems. But I can't perform a format of the drive from my Mac.
  • by fruitbane (454488) on Saturday January 21, 2006 @04:32PM (#14528130) Homepage
    Dude, you don't need a portable hard drive (wow, redundancy)! You just need an install CD from 10.3.x or 10.4.x.

    First, create an image for your Macs (one image per model type is safest). Boot your ideal Mac that you will be imaging in Target Disk mode (hold the T key at boot) and connect it to another Mac with a Firewire cable. The Mac you will be imaging will show up as a hard drive on the other Mac. Open Disk Utility and create a new disk image from a folder. This allows it to be dynamic and resizeable in case your restore machines have different hard disk sizes. Make sure you are creating a compressed image. Save the image to the Mac that is not being imaged. This will take a while and, even with compression, create a large file.

    Once you've created the image, use Disk Utility's Scan Image for Restore function. Just browse the menus until you find it. This will take as long as actually creating the image. Just be patient. Once you're done you have an image that can be used to restore any compatible Mac.

    Now, take this image and host it from a web server. A Mac using personal web sharing will work great, but any other Apache server with the correct MIME type set for .dmg files will work fine. You can even store it https and password protected if you like.

    When you want to restore a Mac, boot it from a 10.3.x or 10.4.x CD OR in Target Disk Mode and connect it to another Mac. Either the Mac being booted from CD or the Mac to which you are connecting the Target Disk booted Mac must have a network connection. Run Disk Utility from the Install CD or on the other Mac. Select the HD you wish to restore to. Click on the Restore tab on the right in Disk Utility and drag the icon of the hard disk/volume from the sidebar on the left to the Target field in the restore area. You'll notice there's an area above the Target that specifies source. You could browse for a local image, or... you could type in the http/https path to your hosted image on the network

    https://yourserver.wherever.ugh/images/103xG4Deskt op.dmg [wherever.ugh]

    Click restore and it will restore the Mac using the contents of the prepared image file as hosted on your network.

    I'm sorry if my description is a little rough. I'm going from memory and I can't find the page on-line that so long ago made me aware of this technique. Either way, it should save you from having to lug around an external HD to service Macs. Just have an install CD handy or a laptop with spare HD space and a firewire cable.

    Have fun!
    • You could, likely, also store the image on the external drive he was talking about. Restoring from a local drive should be faster than restoring from most networks.

      Personally, I'd go for the network option... reimaging isn't that common, particularly on Macs, and it's nice having to carry only a CD to do it, instead of hauling around a drive and a bunch of cables. It's rare that a reimage is so time-critical that a half-hour would matter that much. If I were in a situation where time was THAT critical o
      • The problem isn't the download time, the problem is that you're saturating the network for the whole subnet/department/workgroup unless you've got a rather high-end switching infrastructure. If you're working for an SMB, they don't have such infrastructures -- just basic router-hubs and a hardware firewall at best.

        But rather than keep the image on a USB drive, why not just a small wallet of bootable DVD installer burns? One DVD per machine type, one "optional" software DVD per business function. Updat

        • 'High-end'?? Who on earth uses HUBS anymore? You can get perfectly good 24-port switches for under a hundred bucks these days. Hell, my HOME network is fully switched.

          If you work in a place that's still using hubs, suggest they spend a few hundred bucks and upgrade. It's worth it if you have more than one server... it'll let you use all your servers at their full capacity, rather than splitting one Ethernet cable among however many you've got. Dell has perfectly competent Fast Ethernet switches that ar
          • It may be that you can get a packet-switch for a couple hundred dollars nowadays, but have you ever tried to convince mom & pop to replace something that "works just fine" from their perspective? There are a lot of places using old-fashioned hubs, and that won't be changing until the equipment has to be replaced.

            • The OP is talking about a 150-seat network, not a 5-seat Mom and Pop shop. If you worked for a network that big and were forced to use hubs, it'd be time to find another job.

              Anyplace still using hubs at this point, unless in dire financial trouble, is just stupid. If they're that cheap, then as an IT person, you're underpaid, and can do much, much better.
  • by voxel (70407)
    I need something that has storage on it. It should be smaller than a house, but bigger than a head of a pin. I need like 40 gigs of storage on it so I can have some partitions.

    I don't know if this technology exists because I haven't been outside in over 50 years and even though I've heard of these wierd things called "sto-res", I don't know if they REALLY exist.

    Dear Slashdot, please help.

    Sincerely,

    Caveman Burns

  • Obvious solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cgenman (325138)
    You need a portable drive that works with USB and firewire, has about 40GB of space, and lives comfortably in OSX and XP land. And money isn't a big deal.

    Dude. You need to get your boss to buy you iPod.

  • If you plan to buy any Intel macs in the near future, you may want to know that they do not support booting from a Firewire drive.

    Perhaps there is a bootable CD that can mount a USB2 or Firewire drive and image it to the internal hard drive? If not, someone should make one...

    • Bzzt! Thanks for playing.

      Intel Macs can start from a Firewire disk with no trouble, but the partition table must be the GUID Partition Table, meaning the same disk can't also boot a PowerPC Mac (Open Firmware doesn't support it) even if the install on the disk is universal. PowerPC Macs can read, but not boot from, external disks with a GUID Partiton Table in Mac OS X 10.4.4 and later.

      - proton
  • These are the smallest cases [smartdisk.com] I have seen, but only marginally so. Both Firewire 400 AND 800, as well USB 2.0. Are they really any better than your no name $10 USB enclosure - no. It is just the smallest form factor I have seen, but only beating the others out by millimeters.
  • OK, I'll bite... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jhealy1024 (234388) on Saturday January 21, 2006 @06:04PM (#14528770)

    I take care of about 500 macs (~450 laptop, ~50 desktop). We stick mainly with Apple's Imaging Services [apple.com] (especially with Mike Bombich's [bombich.com] frontends) to install fresh machines.

    I agree with other posters that just about any hard drive will do in this situation, especially given that everyone has an axe to grind about a particular manufacturer. FWIW, we've been having good luck with the LaCie drives of late (triple interface USB2/FW400/FW800), and they come in a variety of sizes, form factors, and speeds. We've had mixed results with Maxtor drives; the older revision all died with the click of death, though the newer ones are still going strong.

    For on-the-go repairs, I like the bus-powered 2 1/2" drives. They're easy to carry, and don't require a power brick to go with them. Yeah, they're only 5400 RPM, but that's plenty fine for us. If you used compressed disk images and ASR [hmug.org] (or Mike Bombich's NetRestore [bombich.com] frontend), you get even better throughput since the computer will decompress on the fly. In this case, portability may be better than the increased spindle speed.

    Also, if money really is no object, look into getting yourself a NetBoot server [apple.com]. If you do that, you don't even need a drive at all! Just hold down the "n" key on boot, and the machine will netboot to your restore image. From there, you can nuke & pave with the click of a button, and get back to doing real work (the machine will reboot itself when done). We use one here to image our lab machines, desktops, and laptops, and it really works great. Huge time-saver at the beginning of the year when we get new equipment. Obviously, this requires a decent core network if you don't want to slag the entire LAN, but if you've got a decent switched network this can work very well.

    • For on-the-go repairs, I like the bus-powered 2 1/2" drives. They're easy to carry, and don't require a power brick to go with them.

      There's nothing wrong with this statement except it implies 2.5" is the only form factor that will permit portability without separate power. I'm no expert but i have a 60 GB USB drive without its own power supply that works fine in 3.5" form. I think its useful to know this as the extra inch will cut the cost considerably (and widen the choice & availability).

  • Is that a full featured hard drive in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
  • Why limit your self to 7200rpm, find sum 10k notebook drives or scsi "raid5 in yo pocket" (TM)
  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday January 21, 2006 @07:31PM (#14529209)

    Lacie.

    Their new portable bus-powered firewire drives [lacie.com] are highly recommended (you can preorder them now; the previous models of these they were selling were absolutely required equipment for sound designers.)

  • by sootman (158191) on Saturday January 21, 2006 @08:13PM (#14529410) Homepage Journal
    1) MUST be firewire. Intel Macs might boot from USB devices but PPC Macs can only boot from FireWire drives.

    2) Given #1, you have to decide if you want it to be bus-powered or not. You basically have two choices here:

    - you could buy a small enclosure with a 2.5" laptop-style hard drive. If you want, you can build your own with a 5400 RPM drive, or maybe even find a 7200 RPM one--rare and pricey but AFAIK they exist. Probably not in anything less than 60 GB, though--7200 RPM laptop drives are a recent development. In any case, these drives are small enough that they can run off the power that FireWire provides, so all you need is the drive and a cable. FireWire iPods fall into this category. The lack of an A/C adapter makes these very convenient. Note that some badly-designed 2.5" enclosures also need an A/C adapter--avoid these.

    - you could buy a large enclosure and a regular 3.5" desktop-style drive. 7200 RPM drives are common here but I have never seen an external enclosure with a 3.5" drive that didn't require a separate A/C adapter for power. This means you've got to crawl around more for every machine you touch, but operations will go faster.
  • I have had to deal with many execs buying large capacity USB drives for their laptops, only to find out that their USB buses won't supply enough power. They end up buying an extra PCMCIA (or whatever) card and a weird cable pigtail to supplement the power from two USB interfaces (note that multiple USB ports might be powered from the same source and so the second one won't supply more power than the first). The other thing is to simply tell them they have to plug them into the wall using a a transformer (th
  • by Bombcar (16057) <racbmob.bombcar@com> on Sunday January 22, 2006 @12:40AM (#14530789) Homepage Journal
    If you can drop the 7200 RPM requirement just get an older iPod that supports firewire + usb.
  • As far as I can see, if you must have 7200rpm then you will need an external power brick as well. The power requirements seem to be too high for a USB port.

    5400rpm is still reasonably speedy, but of course imaging machines is one of those bandwidth-intensive tasks where the more the better.

    But, so long as you accept that you will have to carry a power supply as well, there are a thousand options. It's really very lazy to ask Slashdot just for that!
    • Is this really an ask slashdot?

      I just picked up a macally firewire/USB 2.5" case for $35 (yeah, I splurged- you can get enclosures as cheap as $20) and an 80 GB 7200 rpm hitachi drive for about $155 at newegg. The drive is in my laptop now, but I set it up in the enclosure first (formatted, installed os, transferred, used it for a few days to make sure things were ok). It worked fine off Firewire bus power. Took minutes to install. Now my old laptop drive is in the external to use as backup.

      There are mo
  • Funny timing. I work at Glyph Technologies and we recently released our first bus-powered 7200 rpm external hard disks. They are FW400 and USB 2.0. There's also an optional power supply in case you don't have bus-power capability. They are in sizes 80 and 100 gig and called the Portagig.
  • iPod? I can't remember if you can boot from it, but I know several techs who carry iPods with restore volumes on them. And to be honest, is 7200 rpms _that_ important? You're booting a computer, not trying to run a database or play Quake(n).
  • I feel an overwelming urge to make a Chandler-esque joke just looking at those words...

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