questionswhat brand hard drive should i get?

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Yep, if you can find the older Samsung drives, they're the bee's knees. However, the newer drives (leave it to Seagate to screw up a good thing) seem to have loads of problems. They cost a little more, but I highly recommend the Caviar Black drives from Western Digital. Mine have never given me trouble of any sort, and they have a 5 year warranty in the event that something does go wrong (although that doesn't help much if you've lost your data).

You're making the right move in buying the extra hard drive storage. I've got nearly 3TBs of home movies, pictures, and scans of pictures the kids have made for me.

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Interesting. I've never had a Samsung drive. Every Western Digital drive I've ever had in the past 15 years has died within 2 months after the warranty expired. Every Seagate drive I have ever had lasted forever and was finally retired still going strong. Every drive in my family is a Seagate.

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Another vote for WD Caviar Black. I've never had a problem with them. That said, failures happen, which is why the best thing you can do is what you're going to do. Backup, backup, backup.

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Go with Western Digital.

If anyone tells you they are all-around unreliable, that means they have 1) not bought many hard drives in their life, and 2) don't do a lot of research.

Western Digital hard drives have an all-around, better average customer review rating.

Here's the numbers from my purchasing in the past.

Seagate drives bought in past 8 years: 3
Seagate drives dropped on the ground from higher than three feet: 0
Seagate drives dropped multiple times: 0
Seagate drives still currently running: 1

Western Digital drives bought in the past 8 years: 23
Western Digital drives dropped on the ground from higher than three feet: 5
Western Digital dropped multiple times: 2
Western Digital drives still currently running: 22

While they keep giving me a product that is superior to all other, I will keep buying it.
I own WD Caviar Greens, Blacks, and Blues, as well as a few My Passports.

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I have a half dozen external HDs. The only one I've ever had fail was a Western Digital. But I have several other WDs that have served me well, and I have always heard good things about WD. . I have never observed any difference in performance among any of the brands I have. In addition, I strongly recommend you also find an online photo storage resource. I am an AT&T customer, so I get access to an unlimited photo and video storage account at flickr for like $25 a year. I currently have 8,500 photos stored on there. I back up 25,000+ photos and other stuff from my laptop to an external drive every couple of months but I only store the ones I really want to keep at flickr. I keep the laptop's backup drive at the office so the laptop and the backup aren't in the same physical location. Having been burglarized a few times and lost irreplaceable possessions, I make as certain as I can to have all my personal digital treasures safely backed up.

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My opinion is go with whatever the cheapest NEW product is. I have both seagate and Western Digital Hard drives both internal and portal able they both work great and I've yet to have a problem from any of them over multiple years of use.

Just don't drop them, throw them around, and make sure everything is plugged into a surge protector and you should be fine for the most part.

Only drive I've ever had fail is a iOmega drive I was given as a gift. Which took 3 years of being toted around in a backpack/laptop bag as a portable HDD.

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@moondrake: I had not taken into consideration the possibility of a break-in and theft, thanks for mentioning that. I will look into a could-based back-up solution as well as the NAS I am planning on setting up.

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@dmmutti: Plus, if you have your pictures stored online, you can access them from anyplace in the world to regale (torture) anyone at any time with an endless stream of baby pictures.

Spoken from experience, although my "baby" has fur I am just as guilty of bragging on him as any proud parent is of their kids.

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I would tell you what ever has the longest warranty but my 2 drives are on a mirrored system at home I have replaced the warrantied drives several times. I have replaced 1 drive 3 times and the 2nd drive 2 times. I do advance exchange they charge for shipping 10-15 bucks, I can not remember. They are Seagate 500GB drives, I think they are first generation 7200.11. But the drives they replace them with are refurbished. Now I am watching the time click down on my 5 year warranty and am thinking I wish they only had the 2 year warranty.
My wife who had an identical set up currently has a bad drive (I suspect as when I run a full system virus scan it powers off). This was my first clue I had a bad drive.
My next brand will be WD.

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@capguncowboy & @rprebel : I have been running WD Caviar Black drives in my gaming computers for a few years now, and I do agree they are rock solid. I'm not sure if Caviar Blacks are a bit of an overkill in performance and price, since they will be used in an NAS. Although if I don't find something else that I'm comfortable with, then I just might have to take that route.

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A couple of years ago I took a long hard look at what might be the best hard drive. I found an article by some researcher in russia who had looked at failure rates and found that one company had far fewer than the other two big names. He was not saying which brands the three were. I found another article that commented that a company who repaired hard drives (also in Europe) saw far fewer Hitachi drives than WD or Seagate. The clincher for me, though, was that I saw images of Google's server motherboard. Those pics are probably gone by now. The hard drive was the Hitachi Deskstar. At that point I was pretty much set to buy Hitachi, but I investigated the Google info more, and found that they had studies the failure rate issue, and then standardized their hard drives. They didn't say what brand they'd standardized on, but my thinking was that since they had let out pictures of their motherboards with Hitachi drives, then it seemed like a safe bet.

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WD, without a doubt. I say this primarily because Seagate tech support is abysmal. The last time I bought a Seagate drive it took forever to get them to replace the drive when it developed the click of death; and on top of that they made me pay to ship it to them and said if I didn't use "proper" packing they would not honor the warranty.

The kicker, though, is that the retail packing did not count as proper. Nor did anything I could buy in my county. I had to beg profusely for them to send their magic packing to me first (at my expense, of course) so I could use it to send their terrible drive back to them for a replacement.

Which reminds me, its time to run another backup on my webserver.

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Caviar Black all the way. This is one choice that you need to get right.

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@capguncowboy @rprebel @jsimsace : I agree WD Caviar Blacks are superior high performance drives, I was hoping to spend about $120 per 2TB drive, which the Caviar Blacks are over my desired budget. I can get over that and shell out the extra cash, but the only other thing that concerns me about these drives is the temperature they run at VS something that is not intended for gaming or high performance environments.

I have 2 Caviar Blacks in my gaming computer, but I also have many fans that keep them cool. The NAS has a little fan that I'm afraid is not up to the task of cooling drives that run hotter than most.

Any opinions on that? or should I not really worry about this?

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@dmmutti: I've never had an issue with any WD drive. I have two right now, one of which has been used daily for...maybe 5 years now. That one is a WD MyBook 500GB. The others I've had over the years were replaced before they had a chance to die. In fact, in 20 or so years of dealing with hard drives, I've never had a failure. YMMV.

edit; I've heard good things and bad things about WD Green drives. Maybe steer clear of those.

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@dmmutti: You could always run the Black drive as a primary and set up a Caviar Green (or another cheap alternative) as your backup drive. Just set the NAS up to back up during downtime so the slow transfers won't be noticed. It would save you some money up front and the reliability of the RAID 5 is still present.

As far as cooling goes, if you're worried about the smaller fan, see if you can replace it with a larger one. They're quieter and move more air too.

Good luck!

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@lparsons42: I disagree Seagate support is good in the US. I used advance exchange and secured it with a credit card. for 10-15 bucks they send you the drive before you send yours back. Then you send the damaged one in the box with a prepaid UPS sticker. I used web portal.
I have never called them.

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Hitachi bought IBM, and now either Seagate or WD owns Hitachi storage. I don;t understand why only two compaies are the only ones left, I miss the competition and standard 3-5 year warranties.

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@capguncowboy: Good idea on using the CavBlack for primary and a less expensive one for the mirror drive!

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Thanks everyone for your helpful comments!
Everyone posted some really helpful info :)