Any advice on external hard drives?

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Greg Avakian
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Any advice on external hard drives?

#1 Post by Greg Avakian » Mon Jan 19, 2004 8:24 am

I want to start storing all my music as wave files on a large external hard drive. I'm thinking it would be safer from viruses and portable as well.
Here are my questions:

1) Any brand recomendations?

2) Are there serious limitations to DJing with an external drive?

3) Is there a point where the size of the drive affects the speed of use or potential for hard drive crash?

Thanks in advance!

Greg

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BryanC
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#2 Post by BryanC » Mon Jan 19, 2004 10:50 am

I have heard that a hard drive larger than 240 GB becomes significantly slower as the disk itself can't spin as quickly. Also, though probably not an issue these days, the USB 1.0 connection (I think most externals require USB 2.0 or Firewire) is also quite slow (not sure how this would affect DJ'ing).

No brand recommendations, and while I am a recent proud owner of an external hard drive (yay Christmas!), I don't DJ off my laptop.

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#3 Post by GemZombie » Mon Jan 19, 2004 2:39 pm

I'm fond of the Bus powered jobbies as they don't require you to plug them into anything. I don't need a MP3 player built into my hard drive, so try these brands:

http://www.pocketech.net

or

http://store.yahoo.com/smartdiskstore/firfirhardri.html

You can get cheaper prices if you search around, but they are still pricey.

An alternative is to buy your own external case, and just buy a laptop hard drive... that's basically what those are. They will be bus powered.

-- No disadvantages in my opinion, as I use the firelite drive as my DJ source every week. Just make sure it has room to grow.

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wheresmygravy
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#4 Post by wheresmygravy » Mon Jan 19, 2004 3:12 pm

I also noticed several drives that have USB 2.0 and Ethernet together, so you can attach it to your network and use it with all of your systems or use it dedicated via USB. I have been looking at this for both a backup solution for my several PC's as well as a drive that could be used for DJ'ing. Have not made any decisions on which one might be better.

examples:

IOMega 250gb

XIMeta Drive

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#5 Post by Toon Town Dave » Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:34 pm

You can simply by an external enclosure and slam your off-the-shelf IDE hard drive into it. The typically come USB2 (I think this is backward compatible with USB 1.1, just slower) or Firewire or both.

As far as the drives, if you are going to be dragging it around on DJ gigs, go with a more shock resistant one. I think Seagate's lower end drives are built to withstand a little more abuse. All the drive vendors have the specs on their web sites; Seagate, Maxtor, Western Digital and Hitachi (I think that's who bought IBMs HD business).

Speed of the drive is probably not an issue unless you are using it for video work.

I've been considering this too, with AVLA licensing it's licensed by the drive. Since drives are so big these days (probably 10-20 times larger than when they devised the license), I can carry around more music in MUCH LESS space and and less licences. I also play with digital video and often have to transport lots of footage, DVDs are just too small.

Greg, something else to consider would be to store MP3s or whatever on DVD writeable media as a backup. Still lots less space than CDs and you have a backup if the drive fails before or during a gig.

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Greg Avakian
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#6 Post by Greg Avakian » Tue Jan 20, 2004 8:22 am

First of all, thanks for all the advice so far.
I have a fairly big USB drive kit that I can use a DVD/CD/HD/whatever drive in, but it's big and clunky. The mini drives are great looking, but @ $400, they are too expensive. I might go shopping today, so we'll see...
Toon Town Dave wrote: Greg, something else to consider would be to store MP3s or whatever on DVD writeable media as a backup. Still lots less space than CDs and you have a backup if the drive fails before or during a gig.
Thanks for the suggestion. I thought of this too, but if I am going to have a back up, I'd prefer to have 10-20 mix CDs rather than just the DVDs. What if there's a problem with my laptop? I'd like to know I can still spin with good old CDs since most venues will have a CD player or two. When you can spin off of DVDs in most venues, this will be an awesome way to go!

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Re: Any advice on external hard drives?

#7 Post by CafeSavoy » Tue Jan 20, 2004 11:49 am

Greg Avakian wrote:I want to start storing all my music as wave files on a large external hard drive. I'm thinking it would be safer from viruses and portable as well.
Here are my questions:

1) Any brand recomendations?

2) Are there serious limitations to DJing with an external drive?

3) Is there a point where the size of the drive affects the speed of use or potential for hard drive crash?

Thanks in advance!

Greg
You would want something that has firewire or usb2 or both.
if you want to use the drive for a gig, something that is powered
through the bus is better since it requires less stuff to cart around.
you'd probably also want to get a portable drive for gigs. you can
find a variety of them on-line. the apple store tends to sell Smartdisk
and LaCie drives:

SmartDisk http://store.yahoo.com/smartdiskstore/firfirhardri.html

LaCie Drives http://lacie.com/products/product.htm?id=10023
http://lacie.com/products/product.htm?id=10063
http://lacie.com/products/family.htm?id=10007

I have a couple of the SmartDisks and they are fine.

If you're looking for a general external drive, most of the major
players now offer them. I've gotten some from local stores like BestBuy
and CompUSA--

External drives from bestbuy
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp ... e=category

External Drives at Compusa
http://www.compusa.com/products/product ... aNe=200454

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#8 Post by yedancer » Tue Jan 20, 2004 12:10 pm

Because it was the cheapest thing they had when I went to the store, I got a Western Digital external hard drive. It's worked fine for me, except for when I accidentally unplugged it. It took me a while to finally get the system to recognize it properly. I had to play a compilation for the first band break while I figured out what to do. Other than that, I've had no problems.
-Jeremy

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#9 Post by KevinSchaper » Tue Jan 20, 2004 12:31 pm

howabout some anti-virus software..?

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Titus
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#10 Post by Titus » Wed Jan 21, 2004 12:18 pm

USB 2.0 / Firewire is essential.

Larger drives are newer drives which usually means better platter densities which provide more speed, not less speed. If it concerns you, make sure it is 7200RPM, and you should be fine.

I wanted a Western Digital, but ended up with a Maxtor since it was in stock when I needed it. Either would be fine.

WAV files seem like a huge overkill. You can compress the files such that you strike a very reasonable balance between space and quality (such that very few people would be able to tell a difference between them and the originals).

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#11 Post by Koopa Troopa » Wed Jan 21, 2004 1:54 pm

I'm running an 80GB Maxtor Firewire Ext HD ($105) off my Sony P3 750mhz. But I have a different system in place come gametime. I store all the whole albums on the HD, preview the tracks and put the DJ-worthy songs on my laptop (which I have dedicated 6GB of the lap's 15GB HD), and organize them by artist . This way it's good to know that whatever you pick is more or less some danceable tune. Less songs to muddle thru when you are hunting for a song. I know it's 6GB, but even 6GB is a boatload of mp3 sized files.

I'll also keep a "mirror" image of my lap's music folder on the external drive. So, depending on what I want to do, I have different configurations of songs/artists that I can pick from. Just delete the music folder on the computer, pick a configuration, copy it and go.

Hope that makes sense.
Last edited by Koopa Troopa on Thu Jan 29, 2004 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Lacie and Ipod

#12 Post by lowfi » Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:04 pm

I use a 150gig Lacie External drive formatted for NTFS because I only use it on my PC. It works with firewire and USB 2.0.

So far its performed very well during DJ sessions and when I'm simply copying files back and forth. It runs off of its own power supply but I don’t mind because it doesn’t drain the juice from my notebook which I leave unplugged unless it’s a really long night.

I also use my IPOD as an external drive. I formatted the ipod as fat32 so I can use it on both my PC and MAC. It’s annoying when you only use the Itunes interface to transfer music from your computer to the ipod because it doesn’t allow you to copy your music back the source computer ( I take my ipod to work and tap out BPMs while I absorb a new album. After I have all the ID3 tags in order on my ipod I copy them into the Lacie’s music library.).

Instead I just copy music directly to the ipod, essentially using it as a portable hard drive. I use the ipod to permanently store play lists and mix CDS so that I have a small device for mini session but I use the Lacie to store the mother load of music.

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#13 Post by erinregina » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:19 pm

Can anyone give me updated recommendations on this? (four years later)

I want to get two external hard drives: one for all my music (and to DJ from), and one to back up all my personal crap (read: dissertation). I'd prefer something that plugs into the computer and gets its power supply through that plug, instead of having a separate power cord.

Oh, and I should mention I can only spend about $100 per drive.

Thanks!!!

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#14 Post by SoundInMotionDJ » Thu Apr 17, 2008 6:33 am

erinregina wrote:Can anyone give me updated recommendations on this? (four years later)

I want to get two external hard drives: one for all my music (and to DJ from), and one to back up all my personal crap (read: dissertation).
How much personal crap do you have? USB thumb drives come in 8GB sizes now. I just bought a three pack of 4GB thumb drives for $90 at my local warehouse club store. That might be the best option for easy backup. These also meet your requirement for 'no separate power plug.'

If you need a lot of space (more than a couple GB), hard drives are still the most cost effective way to go.

If your computer can use firewire, that would be preferable to USB2. Firewire is *lightly* faster (for some kinds of reads and writes), and puts less load on the processor. Also, USB2 is commonly used for all kinds of other things, like mice, sound cards, etc. It's better to have firewire. That said, if you can only get USB2...that will be fine for what you are doing.
erinregina wrote: I'd prefer something that plugs into the computer and gets its power supply through that plug, instead of having a separate power cord.
The USB thumb drives are almost perfect for a "non performance critical" backup, that does not required additional power.

Hard drives that do not get a power plug of their own tend to be the smaller "laptop" form factors. Performance of the drive will not be as good as a powered external drive with firewire. Because of that performance hit, I do not have any direct experience with drives like this.
erinregina wrote:Oh, and I should mention I can only spend about $100 per drive.
That will be easy. I picked up a 512GB drive for about $110 18 months ago.

--Stan Graves

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Lawrence
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#15 Post by Lawrence » Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:17 pm

I agree with what Stan wrote. A tiny, flash drive could suffice to back up your personal stuff if it is only documents and a few pictures. For your dissertation, a flash ("thumb") drive (or two for double-backup) should more than suffice. Fry's has an ad for a 4 GB thumb drive for $23 this week, so they are CHEAP. (4 GB would probably be more than ten times the space you would need for a text-based dissertation; and 4 GB should suffice even if your dissertation incorporates a great deal of graphics, videos, or lots of photos). For me, my personal photos take up a lot of space, which require me to use a hard drive back-up.

As for the drive for your music, I also agree to get an external hard drive that is powered by its own plug. They perform better and faster than ones that are powered through the USB connection. Self-powered drives will tax the system too much and really are useful only for convenience sake for business or programming people on the road who do not need to access their drive at the quickest, most reliable speeds. For DJ purposes, you want the hard drive to perform as best as possible so you don't have glitches with accessing your music on the fly. Getting a seperately-powered drive will give you measurably better performance for not too much more inconvenience.

As for brands, everything I have read and heard indicates that Seagate makes the best drives, Western Digital makes the worst of the major brands, and Maxtor is somewhat in between. My own personal experience has confirmed these reputations. I have only had problems with Western Digital drives; indeed, all four of the Western Digital drives I have owned have crapped out on me completely or partially. In contrast, I have had no problems with my Seagate (two) and Maxtor (one) drives.

Seagate bought Maxtor (or perhaps the other way around) about a year or so ago, but they still are manufactured separately, so there still is a performance difference.
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