I’ve been meaning to get an external drive for my home setup for some time. I have a number of potential issues I’d like to resolve with one. For instance, the biggest issue is that I have a number of servers and machines around the house. The main fileshare for the family is on one server that located in the basement. It contains all the family pictures, videos, shared music library, etc. Of course, the drive is located internally to that machine. Since I don’t (won’t) pay for or experiment in offsite storage, I back up all my stuff to yet another internal drive on another machine. Basically, if there was ever a fire in the house, I’d lose it all. (forget tape backup – I have a 4 gig unit – there isn’t enough time in a day to back everything up to expensive tape!! My home video collection is already in the 20 gig range – uncompressed video takes up a LOT of diskspace!!)
In any event, thanks to Mom & Dad, I get a nice little gift cards for electronic stores whenever it’s my birthday or whatever. I had a newly printed one burning a hole in my pocket for some time and I thought I’d take the plunge and order me a external drive. Here were my requirements:
1) USB & FireWire 400 (FireWire 800 would have been a plus)
2) Large capacity 300+ gig minimum.
3) Mac & Windows capable
4) Nice design – as this unit will be sitting in my office. In case of emergency I can just rip it from it’s connection and head out the door.
So why did I decide on the Acomdata drive? Because my parents got me a gift card to a particular electronics store and this is the unit that met all the above requirements and it didn’t cost me anything. (I have to talk to my parents about getting me Amex or Visa gift cards so I can shop around more. In case you are reading this Dad….)
The drive comes with some interesting packaging. The product is pictured on the box as being dropped onto a puddle of water or something — something I don’t think the drive is warranted for.
The drive enclosure is very nice. It has a nice silver casing with an optional stand that you can mount the drive onto. The front has a nice big vent – I’m assuming for air flow. On the back you have two FireWire 400 ports and a USB2 port along with the power switch and power port. The only item I don’t like about the device is the rather large button on the front of the device. It lights up when the power is on and flashes when data is being accessed/written.
The device was instantly recognized by Windows Vista and MacOS X 10.5.3 with both the FireWire and USB2.0 connections. I had no problems reading or writing to the disk. Before I forget – it does come with some software for one-touch backup etc. I didn’t install it as I would be probably doing my backups manually or via Time Machine. As of this writing I haven’t decided yet.
Two other things to note about the running of drive – it appears to run a bit warm but fortunately, the drive spins down after a period of inactivity. The form factor of the drive makes it convenient for stacking if you opt not to use the included base.
There isn’t much more to it – it’s a big (or is it considered midrange nowadays?) drive and it works. The only thing it’s missing is a FireWire 800
To date I’ve used it for a variety of projects:
Installed a Leopard Server on an old Imac – Since it has a FireWire interface I was able to copy the Leopard server to the drive and use that drive as the boot drive to install the server software.
Used it as backup drive for my Hackintosh – Used SuperDuper to create a bootable image of my machine right before I did a 10.5.4 OS upgrade. I’ve put in too much time into this machine to just have it toasted because of an OS update.
I have to decide what I’m going to use the drive for in the future. I do know that I probably want to pick up a couple of more at some point as they are getting relatively inexpensive and they allow you to expand a system fairly easy and still get reasonable performance. I’d like to keep this one around to back up my Hackintosh on a permanent basis – maybe run my Time Machine backups off of that rather than an internal drive. Or I may use it as an external drive on my Leopard Server so that everyone in the family can use it as a Time Machine drive. The issue is that Time Machine isn’t very configurable and 320gigs may not be enough for 3 MacBooks, a MacBook Pro, and a Hackintosh. Maybe I’ll have to wait till the next gift card to find out what I’m going to do.