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I have masses of storage in my system and many years of experience with numerous hard drive brands. I have to say that honestly, Seagate is not one of my current favorites - but ironically I have owned many of them.
Consumer hard drives at this price point are not as robust as enterprise drives. You should expect to have problems from time to time, requiring replacing or repairing a drive, or restoring lost data. Believe it. Prepare for it. Not having backups of your important data is foolhardy and a disaster waiting to happen, no matter what brand of drives you use.
As with most people in the home market today, the amount of data and its importance to our daily lives is increasing. You must plan for and prepare to protect this vital asset.
Here are some tips based on my many years of experience, and trust me, I have made all the mistakes that I am warning you about:
- You must have a way to restore or regenerate any computer system that you consider critical to your life. This includes the data, operating system and applications. There are software products available that allow you to make a backup "clone" of your hard drive, and several products, such as Windows Home Server, that will automatically backup all your data and all your computers. Take a look, and find a product in this category that meets your needs and price point.
- You must make periodic backups of everything; all data and computer system drives. The products I just mentioned can be configured to do it automatically, or you can do it manually. The more often, the better.
- You should buy the highest quality hard drives you can afford ("Enterprise" or "NAS" quality drives are the most expensive). They will last longer, have fewer errors and have the longest warranties. This is a general statistical comment. Of course any given item can be an exception.
- You should have as many copies of your important data as practical for you. And store the copies in different places. At least one copy should be offline (not attached to any electronics while stored). Multiple separate copies protects you from accidental erasures. Even mirrored drives will not protect you from this.
- Heat, extreme cold and other adverse conditions such as dust and moisture are prime enemies of all electronics. Even a robust hard drive can fail if it stays too hot, too often, or is subjected to undue vibration and dust.
- Protect computers from power surges using the best surge protectors you can afford. Clean the airflow holes with a vacuum periodically, and if you have the skills and confidence, clean the insides of all computers of dust that impedes airflow.
All that being said, what does this have to do with this product?
I have found that even though Seagate is not my favorite brand, their recent pricing and product packaging have made them attractive. I just try to use them in a way, with my eyes open, that minimizes my risk - this is a good practice, regardless of the brand.
Here is why I like these units:
- The packaging is very clever and very useful. You can mix and match these drives across various connection methods (USB 2.0, USB 3.0, firewire, eSATA) just by switching adapters. Very handy.
- The USB 3.0 units are fast. They seem to deliver the expected much faster than USB 2.0 performance.
- They can be easily reformatted. I always reformat them, using the default allocation size before using.
- Price point: if you catch the frequent lowball Amazon prices, you can get these drives for less than $34 / TB. Enterprise drives can sell for up to $100 / TB. The best strategy for protecting data is having multiple copies, with the copies separated from each other - not on the same computer, not on the same controller, at least one copy offline, and best of all, at least one copy in a different physical location. The low price point allows me to have multiple "Consumer grade" copies for the price of one "enterprise grade" copy. My gut feel says that the probability of two copies, one of which is offline, failing at the same time is very low.
So, how do I use these units? I use them as 2nd / 3rd copy offline backups of my most important data. Their low price point affords me this luxury. And by keeping them offline, I mitigate the risks of overheating these cheap drives or subjecting them to 24x7 usage, which is not appropriate for consumer grade external drives.
I hope this wordy "review" serves as a help to others who are attracted to these low price points, but have reservations about risking their data.
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