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Why You Should Never Buy a USB/FireWire Drive.

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Here is why I will never buy a FW/USB Drive and why you shouldn't either. They are the bottom of the barrel in quality and performance and there is a superior alternative- a FW/USB Enclosure plus a SATA hard disk drive.


What is the difference?


If you open up your prebuilt USB/FW drive you will see an old technology SATA 1 disk in there, max transfer speed is 1.5 Gb/Sec. I know, I have been opening up a lot of USB drives over here. You cannot even really buy this type of hard disk anymore they are so old and slow. Which is fine for USB 2.0 because USB is even slower than these old SATA disks, so you never notice.


If you buy any modern stand-alone hard disk drive it will be a SATA 2 disk capable of 3 Gb/sec transfer speed or SATA 3 capable of 6 Gb/sec transfer speed.


Put this disk into a USB 2.0/ FireWire/ USB 3.0/ eSATA enclosure and you have your own home made external storage that isn't awful. And you are now able to utilize any interface you want. IF a slow USB 2.0 interface is what you want, no problem. But if you get a new computer that has USB 3.0 or eSATA, you can simply buy a new, cheap, enclosure with USB 3.0 or eSATA interfaces and put your disk into it.


And in 2 years if you ever want to use your disk inside a computer you can remove it from the enclosure and pop it into a laptop or desktop and achive the native speed of 3gb/sec or 6 Gb/sec.


USB/ eSATA enclosure - $14.00



Samsung 500GB disk - $50



USB disk drive - 500 GB, $60

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Western+Digital+-+WD+Elements+500GB+External+USB+2.0+Portable+Hard+Drive/9875558.p?id=1218187081307&skuId=9875558&st=portable drive&cp=1&lp=11



About the same price but if you comparison shopped you could do better.


It just seems stupid to me to accumulate premade USB disk drives that you can never really take advantage of as technology progresses.


I am going through all my old USB disk drives and ripping them out of the enclosures, finding crappy SATA 1 disks that will fit in my PC or an external enclosure but which are reaaaaallly slow.


Do yourself a favor and avoid premade USB drives and for the same price get yourself an enclosure and disk combo.


EDIT- I have seen that even the latest premade USB disk drives use out of date SATA 1 disks, the makers of readymade usb drives have kept these old drives in production as they are cheap and do the job, but you cannot reuse them effectively later.


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costs the same as the equivalent Samsung 2.5" bare drive. The portable seems a better deal to me.


Regarding future proofing: When the drive fails, simply toss the whole thing instead of tossing a bare drive.


HQPlayer (on 3.8 GHz 8-core i7 iMac 2020) > NAA (on 2012 Mac Mini i7) > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

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I've had several "run of the mill" enclosures fail. They are flimsily made, and the parts break easily - especially if you take a drive in and out several times.


So Chris is right. If you are going to do this, get a quality enclosure, not some cheap off the shelf no name Chinese one.


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +>Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Strip/Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three (on their own electric circuit) >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I'm confused-what advantage for playing back music does an eSATA drive provide? Isn't USB 2.0 way faster than needed? For file transfers, sure, the extra speed is handy, but for music playback? I've seen some claims that 5400 RPM drives sound better than 7200 RPM drives.


Vade Forrester


_________________[br]Vade Forrester

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Thanks, Chris! I just ordered the Oyen bus-powered FW/USB enclosure with a 1 TB Samsung drive installed.


From what I could discern from the diagrams in the instructions for mounting a bare drive in the portable bus-powered enclosures, I would rank from most to least sturdy: Oyen, Wiebe, then OWC a distant third. (OWC's connectors are not mounted on the rear panel, so the circuit board will be stressed every time you insert a cable.)


On the other hand, I would rank Wiebe on top for a desktop enclosure for a 3.5-inch drive. Oyen's method of permitting quick swapping of drives doesn't seem to permit shock mounting as in the Wiebe ToughTech Q.


HQPlayer (on 3.8 GHz 8-core i7 iMac 2020) > NAA (on 2012 Mac Mini i7) > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

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And with all the audiophiles with USB DACs or USB converters, I would think a USB external drive or connection is the last thing that you want. It's better to use a FW external hard drive if you can't use eSATA interface.


Of course with a FW DAC and MacBook Pro I am compelled to use the USB connection to an external SATA hard drive. Perhaps when the Thunderbolt interfaces become more prevalent in use and inexpensive, I will switch.


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I replaced a crappy Costco USB drive that gets horrid reviews with an Oyen firewire disk drive. Since I also have iTunes movies and TV shows on it, I opted for the powered version.


Long story short: My crappy Costco USB drive behaved better.


The first disk Oy Vey sent me worked for all of 12 seconds after I copied everything to it. So I sent it back, and they sent me a new one. Took several weeks, because they forgot. Ooops.


The new one works, but the el cheapo power supply is so filthy it scrambles the network data from my solar system, so I have to put two RF filters in series on it. Aperiodically, but on average once a week, the hard drive just loses it and crashes my computer. When I restart the computer, it won't reboot until I unplug the Oy Vey power supply and plug it in again. Thoughtful of them to include a separate power button, so simply plugging the power supply back in won't be enough to restore the disk. You get to reach back to the back of the cabinet where the black widows nest and push the button before they chew your arm off.


Unfortunately, this thing doesn't suck quite enough for me to replace it yet again, but I think I might get one of the 2011 minis and put two big SSDs inside of it.


The Oy Vey disk and power supply wastes more electricity than my Nova in the average 24 hours it is on.


At least the surface of the disk drive is nice and smooth so you can fry an egg on it or heat your living room.


Oy Gevalt.


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After frustrations with external USB drives and NAS drives, I finally popped a corpuscle and bought a HP EX490 Media Smart Server (from Costco) and plugged it into my router via a very long Ethernet cable. Now it merrily rattles away elsewhere in the house.


I love, love, love the thing. It expands up to 18 TB, allows hot-swapping of back-up drives (for physical data security) and basically maintains itself.


Anywhooo, they are great. Too bad HP pulled the plug on their whole darned Home Server group about a year ago. They were segment leaders.



Peachtree Audio DAC-iT, Dynaco Stereo 70 Amp w/ Curcio triode cascode conversion, MCM Systems .7 Monitors

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  • 5 weeks later...

Well, I just replaced my data-tail (the 3.5" powered external firewire 400) with the 2.5" bus-powered drive, i.e.,




This is the one with the Samsung disk.


Briefly, the bus-powered one seems to be faster, at least if loading album art into iTunes can be used as a metric.


Music and HD movies seem to stream fine from this, using FW 400 (still using the same firewire cable, so it isn't that).


Moral of the story: I should have followed Chris' initial recommendation.


This disk is better in every way. I don't have to push a button to turn it on after a power disruption. It just works.


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