I've been reading Storage Review articles for years now and the site persists in providing the best hard drive data anywhere. Information obtained through your articles has influenced almost every one of my hard drive purchases. However, the leaderboard, as a tool to guide hard drive purchases, has a few flaws.
As a simple critique of the way the leaderboard is updated (and please, correct me if I'm wrong) -- when a new drive is released that is superior to previous leaders but inferior to the current champion, it gets no recognition on the leaderboard. Although the leaderboard appears to be a list of current top drives, really it's a history of champions -- and as a tool to purchase hard drives, a list of current top-drives is all that concerns me.
My second critique is of the performance-focus of Storage Review. Really, this critique is an appeal for a new category. The fact is, hard drives, especially external hard drives are one of the easiest, highest-capacity, highest-performance forms of portable media available on the market today. While Storage Review does a good job testing and categorizing hard drives on the basis of performance, the reliability database seems like an afterthought. New product reviews conclude, in the future, the database will complete this article." Old drives -- and by those, I mean those that do not occupy a seat on the leaderboard, are only notable when they blow up sooner than they should.
My proposal is for a new category ranking hard drives on proven reliability, durability, and cost-effectiveness. Of the last six hard drives I bought, only three of them are being used in performance-critical applications. The rest are all in external enclosures that spend a large chunk of their lives both in transit, and turned off. They get bumped around and power cycled more than regular hard drives. And most importantly, when buying them, performance was not a feature that I took into consideration. Cost-per-gigabyte (including a cost of enclosure in the cost of a drive), heat production, and reliability were all features that I looked for. Articles and a leaderboard category covering the use of hard drive as removable media would be wonderful. Even better -- also ranking enclosures for different applications.
Other forms of media are inherently more reliable than hard drives. Moreover, DVDs and tape are each significantly cheaper per-gigabyte forms of media. However all around, hard drives have better storage densities and are easier to use than other medias, and the enclosures offered for external hard drives often provide extensive functionality unavailable with DVD and tape drives: What kind of DVD-RW drive, when detatched from your computer, will accept images from a digital camera, or play or display digital media, or will hook up to a network and form a fileserver? What kind of tape drive is 1.8 inches wide and can fit in your wallet?
Understandably, with the scope of applications that hard drives as media provide, it would be difficult to cover everything and maintain the attention to detail that Storage Review is known for. I admit, I get a little excited when I think about my ipod as more than a mp3 player. However, ignoring the applications, as noted earlier, the hard drive as a storage media has a number of features that can be weighted, and one of the things that often doesn't matter is performance.
So there you go. Keep on keeping on, Storage Review, and hopefully my next archival drive will come straight from the SR leaderboard instead of from relatively extensive research.
SR long time fan and general hard drive enthusiast.