If the recently reviewed LaCie Minimus is arguably the most compact desktop external hard drive, the LaCie 2big USB 3.0 is quite the opposite. It's huge and heavy. But that's the only complaint we have. The drive comes in a good-looking and user-friendly design. It's fast in our tests and incorporates a convenient way to manage the internal hard drives. If you're in need of an external hard drive to either expand your desktop computer's storage or store backups of important files, look no further than the LaCie 2big USB 3.0. At the street price of around $330 for 2TB (or $550 for 4TB), the 2big is slightly more expensive than other similarly configured external hard drives of the same specs, but it's well worth the investment.
Design and features
|Drive type||3.5-inch dual-bay USB hard drive|
|Connector options||USB 3.0, USB 2.0|
|Size (WHD)||3.7 x 7.9 x 7.2 inches|
|Available capacities||2TB, 4TB|
|Capacity of test unit||2TB|
|OSes supported||Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7), Mac OS 10.5 or later|
|Software included||LaCie Backup software with data restore for Windows and Mac|
The LaCie 2big USB 3.0 is the first USB 3.0-based external hard drive that supports RAID we've reviewed. It can host two 3.5-inch SATA internal hard drives and allows you to configure them into either RAID 1 (for data protection) or RAID 0 (for maximum storage space and speed). You can also use the two hard drives in a non-RAID setup called JBOD.
Similar to the WD My Book Mirror, the 2big offers a very convenient way for users to service the internal hard drives. The two drive bays are accessible from the back. Each drive tray has a lock that can be opened using a coin. After that the tray can be pulled out for you to service or replace the hard drive.
The 2big goes one step further to make switching among different hard-drive configurations extremely easy for novice users. Above the drive bays, there's a slider between three positions called Fast, JBOD, and Safe, with Fast and Safe being friendly terms for RAID 0 and RAID 1, respectively. Under the slider there's a recessed Confirm button. To change the configuration of the internal hard drives, you just need to move the slider to the respective position and use a pin on the "Confirm" button, and the device will get the job done by itself. There's no software or Web interface to fiddle with, as needed for other storage devices. Note that moving from one hard-drive configuration to another will erase all of the data currently stored on the 2big, and you will need to reformat it once the switching is done.
The LaCie 2big USB 3.0 comes with either two 1TB or 2TB hard drives, making its maximum storage (in RAID 0) up to 4TB.
The drive has no fan; instead, it's housed in an aluminum chassis, also dubbed a heat sink, that has multiple grooves that create larger total surface area to provide more heat dissipation. On the front, it has a large, round blue button that works both as a status light and the power switch. When idle for 30 minutes or more, the drive will enter the eco mode, in which all of its LEDs and hard drives will be turned off to conserve energy. During this time, the drive's partitions are still available to the operating system. They will be automatically turned on when the drive is used.
The LaCie 2big USB 3.0 comes with LaCie Backup Manager Professional 8.0 for both Macs and PCs. We tried it with our Windows test machine, and it worked well. You can back up preselected file types (documents, photos, movies, etc.) or entire folders of your choice. After that, you can make the backup as a copy (be it a full copy, an incremental/differential copy, or a mirror) of the original data or compress it into ZIP format. If you choose to compress the backups, you'll also have the option to encrypt them for security purposes.