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Low end home storage: Gigabit vs. USB 3 Desktop vs. USB 3 Portable


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Hello Home Server forum members,


I am looking to update my home storage capacity and would like some recomendations. I currently have 2 320GB portable usb 2 drives that perform independent backups of my desktop. my wife just got a new laptop and will begin using one of these portables as storage/back up for that. The main uses for this device will be extra storage for large non-critical data (ISOs and other large downloads) and critical back up data. I would also like to use it to store and run virtual hard disks. I realize that running VMs from attached storage may not be ideal, but I have done so successfully from usb 2 and considering my budget attached storage is the only option. While I may be an enthusiast at heart, I am not so in the wallet. My budget for this probably maxes out at around $150, but $100 would be easier. Here are are a few of the options I am considering.


1. Seagate GoFlex Home (gigabit) or Western Digital My Book Live (gigabit) or similar.


The advantage here is obviously that both my computers can eaisly connect to networked storage. Will I lose speed with ethernet? My initial searching makes me think that real world gigabit ethernet is similar to usb 2. Any thoughts on that? Can I map both of these as network drives so that they closly resemble local hard disks as far as windows explorer is concerned?



2. Seagate Backup Plus Desktop or Western Digital My Book Essential or similar. (probably 2 or 3 TB)

With these I get the most storage for the money and USB 3.0, which I am assuming is significantly faster than Gigabit ethernet. Downside is that I must have my desktop on to access it from other devices.

I am also giving a pretty big edge to the Seagate because of the flexibility to swap out adapters. This seems like a large advantage. Perhaps I will use Thunderbolt some day on this.



3. Seagate Backup Plus portable or Western Digital My Passport or similar.(1TB)


Lowest cost but lower storage, not that I need that much right now. USB 3.0 Main advantage is one less power adapter to plug in, which is kind of a big deal to me since I have so many power bricks already for one desktop. Will my speeds be lower by using a portable over a desktop drive with its own power? Can anyone confirm the RPM speed of portables vs Desktop models?

Once again Seagate gets an edge because I can upgrade to thunderbolt or other options. Also I believe that Seagate has NTFS drivers for Mac as well. Anyone with experience on these?



Thanks for reading and I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions!



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The answer to your question is probably more with what you are attaching to. If you are attaching multi-computers your should go with some form of network storage. "If" hard cabled through a gigabit router, Gigabit is much faster than USB 2 but slower than USB 3. I would go with network attached as it far more flexible and not reliant on a computer being operational or on.

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I applaud you for at least trying to have backups, and I'm sympathetic to the tight budget. Your options are a bit limited. One thing you should keep in mind. It is normally recommended you keep 3 copies of any critical data, one of them offsite (i.e. at another physical location).


I'm not sure how you can accomplish that on your budget, but I would talk to your wife and ask her just how she would feel if this data, or that data, suddenly went 'poof'. People don't miss things until they're gone, so get her to imagine her precious data 'gone' and see how she feels about backup (I'm assuming she's the main limitation on your budget, although I do understand circumstances enter into it a lot too).

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@pcdoc Thanks for the info regarding data transfer speeds. This also reminds me that I would need to upgrade my router if I go with the networked solution.


@ikon Thanks for the reminder about having three back ups. My back up plan is to have two independent backups on two different external drives and I primarilly use SkyDrive as my off site backup.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just as an update, I decided to go with a 1TB Seagate Back Up Plus portable drive. http://bit.ly/MVXiGB


1. It was cheap

2. It doesn't require an additional power supply

3. Its fast with USB 3.0

4. I only have two computers and so I wouldn't get a huge benefit from going with networked storage anyway.

5. I can upgrade to a new adapter whenever Seagate makes it.

Overall I am pleased with this option.

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