Terabyte Backup Drives

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I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be shopping for four terabyte drives just for backups. Amazing how things have changed. Even more amazing is that it is so easy to fill a terabyte server these days with music, videos and home movies. In any case, if you need a backup for these, obviously a tape drive isn’t going to work. Really the only practical choice is another hard drive. In the Time Capsules case, it has an archive feature so you can plug in a USB drive and backup the entire drive en masse. Tried this with a 750GB drive I had and it really works.

If you want to really be safe though you want more than a single backup. So for a single system, maybe you get two backup drives that you do biweekly and then a single drive you keep for the month and a final drive you keep for a year. That’s a very robust solution. You just keep recycling the two drives and then at the end of the month, take last months backup and reuse it. This is the so called towers of hanoi backup strategy. At the end of the year, you take the weekly drive, make it the yearly and reuse last year’s drive.

But what drive to get. Amazingly, terabyte drives now cost $180-250 now, so all this runs you about $1,000 to have a really robust backup. The best thing of course is that a restore is very simple. No magic software needed. The Seagate 7200.11 with a separate enclosure or the Seagate Backup Pro seem like the best answers. The main issue is what enclosure can you get as there is a $60 price difference for the enclosed vs. non-enclosed Seagate drive.

Trusty dusty “Storagereview.com”:http://storagereview.com does a great job keeping track of drives. There are four drivest that are terabyte right now from Samsung, Hitachi, Western Digital and Seagate. Here are how the choices breakdown:

h2. Seagate Barracuda ES.2 or 7200.11

The “benchmarks”:http://www.storagereview.com/ show that the “leaderboard”:http://www.storagereview.com/leaderboard.sr right now is in favor of the Seagate Barracuda ES.2. This is a “server drive” so theoretically more reliable and costs a little more according to “Pricegrabber”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/48840037/st=sort/sort_type=bottomline it is $247.

Most importantly, it comes with a five year warranty for both of them. As an aside the consumer version is the Barracuda 7200.11 and it isn’t clear what it is missing so a potentially good choice. “Pricegrabber”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/48683394/search=seagate/st=product/sv=title/ shows it at $220.

You can also get it with an enclosure from Seagate as the “FreeAgent Pro”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/54601870/st=sort/sort_type=bottomline at $280 which is a little steep if you already have or know how to make enclosures. “Seagate”:http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/external/freeagent_pro_data_movers/ has these at $270 with FireWire400, USB 2.0 and eSATA so quite versatile

h2. Western Digital

With a backup drive, you don’t need world class performance since it is all happening on slow USB 2.0 most likely. So cost may and decent reliablility (since you won’t have these drives on much) will be more of an issue. So the WD drives which are 5400 rpm rather than 7200 rpm don’t really suffer much.

“WD My Book Essential Editional External 1TB”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/51329464/st=sort/sort_type=bottomline might be a good choice at Pricegrabber it is $212 including the enclosure. The main issue is the warranty is really short at one year though.

The bare drive, “WD Caviar GP”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/50100629/st=sort/sort_type=bottomline is $190.

h2. “Samsung Spinpoint F1”:http://www.storagereview.com/samsungs_spinpoint_f1_hits_performance_database

This is a new drive with just three platters, so that is why it is cheaper than the 4-platter Seagate but not as cheap as the 5400 rpm Western Digital. “Pricegrabber”:http://www.storagereview.com/samsungs_spinpoint_f1_hits_performance_database has it for $202. It also only has a 1 year warranty.

h2. “Enclosures”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/54601870/search=freeagent%20pro/st=sort/sort_type=bottomline

I’ve been using the Vantec Nexstar 3 for all my drives, but they are limited to 750GB drives at most. So have to go to Newegg to find another one.

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