External harddrives – Trouble for some

After reading some of the problems people have – like Raoul over in the US, I felt the need to express my observations with external harddrives. First off, my usage profile, I think, isn’t the same as Raoul’s.

I don’t work off the discs as he does with his photo archive. But some of his problems cannot result from that – like a completely unusable Firewire 400 port. I’m using them merely as a data storage unit for videos, my photos, my time machine backup, backups in general. Maybe just a little more stress than a standard user.

I currently use an old Western Digital Combo with 250 GByte with Firewire 400 and USB. This drive is already a few years old and just has some problems. For example the drive cannot be powered down by pushing the button on the front. It just blinks when you hit the button and doesn’t do anything else, of course the drive is unmounted when I try that. Unmounting and unplugging the Firewire plug makes it spin down, but powering off isn’t possible without ripping off the power plug.

The second drive I bought was a Seagate FreeAgent Pro 500 GByte with eSATA, FW400 and USB. I don’t use USB for data transfers as it’s just slow compared with Firewire. My MacBook Pro doesn’t have eSATA, so I use the FW400. That being said, I have to mention that when I had to decide for a new drive I was watching Thomas Hawk and Robert Scoble doing the Podtech show which was sponsored by Seagate. So, there you have it, sometimes advertisments work.

I haven’t had any problems with these drives, especially with the Seagate. The power button might be placed in a bad position. You have to push the base of the drive, as such it’s not a proper switch, but that’s it. What’s the problem with a nice mechanical switch these days? I hate these stupid soft switches which will either wear out after a while or simply stop working.

So, that’s it. I can only hope that Raoul will figure out the problems and maybe he found his solution in these nice Drobos. Oh, speaking of the Drobo. I dropped the guys an email a while ago, when the first units started to show up at the reviewers in the US. I wanted to get a review unit for our show. I got the usual reply, read “We keep your information and will keep you updated”. Of course, I haven’t heard anything from them for almost a year now. Guess I have to keep buying other solutions. As long as they don’t have a serious connection for data, eSATA or Firewire that is, I’ll stay with the usual suspects. To quote Frank Jonen: “I wonder if those drobo guys will finally ditch that crap USB and grow up”. Word.