Monday, December 08, 2008

My review: LaCie 1 TB USB 2.0 External Drive 201304U

My 200 MB Venus enclosed backup drives needed a size boost. They're a 2-3 years old anyway, that's getting geriatric for today's short-lived consumer drives.

I like the Venus enclosures, but the fans do tend to die, or just get noisy. I wanted a fanless design since they seem to work with today's cooler drives. I also wanted to get the drive and enclosure together to cut down on the hassle factor.

The LaCie USB enclosure was on sale at Amazon (Black Friday), so that's what I got. Here's my Amazon review ... LaCie Hard Disk 1 TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive, Design by Neil Poulton 301304U: Electronics

I bought two of these for my rotating backups at a sale price of $120.

I wasn't impressed by the case, but I was impressed by the 2 year limited warranty. La Cie has been around for a while, so this long a warranty suggests they expect the drive to last. That's all I care about. For the purposes of storage attached to my backup server performance is irrelevant.

Some quick observations:

1. You could cut an artery on the case. Really, it's a bit silly even without LED glow. I prefer a sturdier case with softer edges.

2. Vents are in back and the base, so you can stack on atop another. I would still recommend not stacking though, these things should stay cool.

3. I believe it's fanless.

4. On XP SP 2 it doesn't spin down. I don't know if it would spin down on a Mac. Too bad, spin down preserves life in these cases.

5. Comes with a standard 2A 12V compact power supply with a modest brick in mid-cord. So easy to plug in. Completely generic brand, not La Cie branded. The power cords is not excessively long, just right for me.

6. The attached USB cable is very short. I have lots of cables, so I was happy to get a new one that's short. I used another cable with this.

7. When you plug it in you have the option of formatting for OS X or XP. I tested both. With OS X it seems to do a full formatting, but with XP it formatted far too quickly. It must have been preformatted. Unfortunately, with XP I ran into some odd behavior with delayed write errors. Could have been chance, but I did a proper full XP format (takes hours) and the drive then behaved properly. I don't like those funny formats, I like to format myself and look for errors. I then follow the formatting with a disk test.

8. Mine came with a Samsung HD103UJ internally, but I suspect that varies.
They seem fine, I'll update this post if I run into problems. I hope to get a few years out of them. I do have to figure out what to do with the old 200-300MB drives. The 300 MB will replace a 200MB drive sitting in a firewire enclosure, but then I'll have to figure out what to do with the others. Maybe I can donate one to a friend who doesn't do backups yet ...

Update 5/6/09: I did run into problems. I discovered I couldn't start the system with the USB drive on. I have to restart with the drive off, then leave it off until startup is done. I don't think this was a LaCie problem, I suspect other causes.

Update 2/2/10: You can't open the #$!$!$ enclosure. Ok, so you can -- if you use credit cards to slightly separate the front, left, and right sides from their tabs then pull out the drive using string that's been threaded through the drive vents. Who the **** would ever make a sell a drive enclosure that couldn't be opened. LaCie, you are on my black list.

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