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Shopping for an external hard drive, and I am confused again

I am shopping for a 500gb external hard drive, to be used whenever my laptop and I are at home. I will keep my entire music/video/photo collection here, as well as other documents. I have also considered installing some of my video games on it, if it's comparable to speed with the built in hard drive. What I'm confused about is what aspect of the hard drive is more important when it comes to trying to match the speed of your internal hard drive.

Which matters more? Cache, or the connection to the laptop?

Should I worry about getting a 16mb cache hard drive, or an eSATA or USB or firewire 400 connection? I know that Firewire 400 somehow doesn't use any cpu resources, but does eSATA?

May also put linux into it..

My laptop has firewire built in, and I might be willing to buy a card for eSATA, since they're like $20 on newegg.

My total price range is somewhere between $100 and $145 ish, trying to stay away from $150, but will consider other options if they're worth the cause. I'm not too worried about finding a specific hard drive, just finding out if the connection is that important and how much cache I really need. Thanks a ton, Brian

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Connection speed. . .

In reply to: Shopping for an external hard drive, and I am confused again

USB-2 = about 400 Mb/s
Firewire = less than USB
SATA - around 3 Gb/s

I used a USB-2 external case for my 400 Gig Seagate SATA drive. Disappointed. I removed the case and built my own connector using a SATA cable. Transfer speed was increased. It's not pretty nor is it portable, but I verified the speed increase using the SATA cable.

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In reply to: Connection speed. . .

Ha, nice. There are a few hard drives that are external SATA ready, so I think I'll buy a PCI card for my computer that will let me connect the hard drive with the sata cable. Thanks a ton, Brian

PS> Does anybody know if I'm going to notice a difference between an 8 mb cache and a 16 mb cache? I know that there is a difference in performance, but what kind of usage is going to make that difference important? Thanks again!

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This drive. . .

In reply to: wow

is an internal drive, Seagate 400 Gig PMR. But with a SATA cable and power extender, it's now an external drive. As I said, it's not pretty or portable (much), but it's fast. I can move a one Gig .avi move from my desktop to that drive in about 20 seconds. Try that with a USB connector. Oh, I did. That's why I use the SATA connection.

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In reply to: Connection speed. . .

I'm so sick of people thinking USB 2.0 is faster than FireWire.
Anybody who has used both will tell you that FireWire 400 is WAY faster than USB 2.0.

According to my benchmarks, FireWire is nearly double the speed of USB 2.0 on my dual-interface external drives.
If you want to edit raw DV video on the external drive itself and your computer doesn't have eSATA, FireWire is the perfect interface.

Yes, the specs say FireWire is rated at 400 Mb/s and USB 2.0 is rated at 480 Mb/s. However, they fail to mention 480 Mb/s is a burst rate. In reality, you're lucky to get half that number. FireWire can sustain 400 Mb/s.

FireWire is actually better than USB 2.0 for many reasons, speed is just one. More power. Device independence. Daisy-chaining. Higher-quality cable and plug design. I could go on and on forever about how much better it is.

There will be no difference between the speed of FireWire and SATA when connected to your external drive, because both interfaces are limited by the slow speed of the hard drive rather than that of the interface. USB 2.0, on the other hand, is about half the speed of the hard drive, so in that case, you're limited by the interface rather than the physical speed of the drive.

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I wonder.

In reply to: Ignorance...

If on the Mac, firewire wins hands down. But on the PC and Windows (all versions so far) I keep getting people bringing me corrupted volumes. So firewire on the PC looks unsafe. And right or wrong, it benchmarks just a bit slower.

The story changes if I install Linux.

But you knew that.

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In reply to: I wonder.

Well, I knew Windows was crumby, but I had no idea. I use a Mac.
But it's clear to me that USB 2.0 is not fast enough to stream a higher quality video smoothly to a Windows machine. I've witnessed this inability on several occasions.

So, if I has a Windows machine, I guess he has these options, huh?

USB 2.0 - slow
FireWire - corrupted
SATA - unsightly, dangerous, and maybe impossible on a laptop

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In reply to: Shopping for an external hard drive, and I am confused again

After all of this, I ended up going with network assisted storage.. A friend has it and he loves it. He says it's plenty fast, and he's a hard core gamer, as well as a hacker.. It MIGHT be faster than USB, and definitely not as fast as eSATA, but I would rather not have it in my room generating heat, and it would be nice to <easily> access files over the internet with it. I bought the Buffalo Linkstation Live for $175 on Amazon, since it supports printers, and also has better speed ratings.. So we'll see. Thanks again for everyone's help, Brian

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