After reflecting on the iomega review, I decided to get past the past and bring things more current. Â So, here I’m going to sum up several hard drive solutions of old and what lessons I’ve learned from them. Remember that these views (the whole site actually) come from a mac perspective and using pro-applications.
I can’t count how many of these clear case hard drives we bought from Melrose Mac back in the day. Â They are known by many names: MacPower IceCube, ClearLight, and California Hard Drives. They started in the 100GB variety and eventually got up to 250 and higher. Â The problem is that there’s no fan. Inside is a 3.5″ ATA drive attached to an interface card converting it to FireWire (and USB) surrounded by a metal frame encased in plastic. Â They don’t breath at all and they get very hot.Â As you can see there are holes in the metal, but they are blocked by the plastic.Â The name IceCube must only refer to it’s appearance. At one point I had a vertical stack of them and the heat from the bottom drive(s) cooked all the ones above it. Â After experiencing my first click of death I placed them side by side to allow for someÂ ventilation.
I’d say the overall lesson on these cases is that heat is very bad for hard drives.Â One by one these drives have failed at a hardware level, presumably due to overheating.Â When a case has no fan they call it a “fanless design” or “passive cooling.” Â IMHO, no engineering was put into the cooling aspect of this case.Â I have a few of them left but they’ll be the first ones backed up when I settle on my new storage solution.
There is a new version of the IceCube called the Pleiades. Â It also has passive cooling but looks to have more ventilation than the one pictures above. I’ve never used the new version.
I also own one of these Seagate drives known as the ‘Pushbutton Backup’ drives. Â I don’t know anything about the backup feature as I don’t use features like that. Â The drive has performed fairly well over the past 3 or 4 years. Â I believe that it runs much cooler than the IceCube described above.
The bad news is that this drive is very slow. Â I’m not sure what physical hard drive is inside this case, but there is a bottleneck somewhere. I suspect that backup feature might be part of the problem. Â I only have one of these and it will also be high on the list for backup once the new solution is found.
Western Digital My Book
For about 15 minutes I owned a 500GB My Book drive. Â It was extremely slow. Â Too slow to be used for DV capturing. Â Also, the volume also kept dropping off my mac desktop, which case cause major file corruption not only on the offending drive but other attached drives. Â I quickly returned it to Best Buy and have never considered them since.
Conclusions this round
As I said, heat is very bad for drives. Â Passive cooling can work for some applications, but video editing taxes a hard drive which generates heat. And, I believe there is a big difference between passive cooling and just not having a fan. Â Well designed passive cooling uses heat sinks or some kind of natural ventilation.Â If your application is video editing you need a drive enclosure that somehow draws the heat away from the drive. Â A fan is a simple way and fans don’t have to be loud. Â Over the past 7 or 8 years, the drives that have run hotter have been more likely to fail. Â Of the data loss that I’ve suffered, most of the drives have been the IceCubes, one was the iomega, and two were the drives that Apple installed in a powerbook and a mac mini.
Second is that the feature enhanced drives like the Seagate Pushbutton Backup and the My Book (which also has a button activated backup feature) seem to have speed issues. When editing you need sustainable bandwidth. In Avid training we learned (and taught) that you don’t want anything slowing down your data path. Maybe on those drives the hard drive interface has software that is sitting there waiting for a button to be pushed so it can launch backup software.
Another observation is “What’s Left?” Â This post covers some of the older drives enclosures, all which have problems. Â But what about the newer Seagate FreeAgent Pro’s? Â What about G-Raid? Â Check back later for some notes on those.Â Also please leave comments. Â What is your take on these drives?