Fox2

Enterprise drive on desktop systems -- WD or Seagate?

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I'm imminently buying a new high-capacity (500 or 750GB) drive for my desktop system. The disruption caused by loss of a drive with that much data is such that I've decided to spend the extra and get an enterprise drive (WD RE2 or Seagate ES ranges). I would imagine this is a pretty common idea nowadays. I have some questions on the decision.

System - desktop system running 24x7, P4, 1 gb ram, XP Pro, non-RAID

Usage - heavily multi-tasking (heavy parallel use of each of IM clients, web browsing, p2p, office applications, movies and occasionally movie encoding).

1. Comparing (say) the current WD 500GB RE2 and the Seagate 750GB ES models, are there any significant differences in either reliability or speed?

2. Is there a consensus whether the TLER (and related seagate feature) on these drives can be disabled, and whether this is useful or important in the above environment?

Anything else important about making a choice?

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1. Comparing (say) the current WD 500GB RE2 and the Seagate 750GB ES models, are there any significant differences in either reliability or speed?

* This WD is mostly a bit faster in real applications although its pure synthetical speed is slower. But newer WD5000AAKS (not a RAID edition) has also better synthetical speed, too. Seagate's performance varies more wider depending on test pattern.

* Seagate 750GB ES may have better real reliability but honestly said we don't know much about this drive - it's marginally used so far.

2. Is there a consensus whether the TLER (and related seagate feature) on these drives can be disabled, and whether this is useful or important in the above environment?

At least for WDs it can be disabled. Don't know about the Seagate.

Practically there hasn't been any problems so far even when TLER is remained active in single drive usage scenario.

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Seagate 750GB ES may have better real reliability but honestly said we don't know much about this drive - it's marginally used so far.

I'm assuming broadly that the 750 GB and 500 GB Seagate ES models are likely to be not-dissimilar in reliability. Does that help?

In case it's relevant, the main use of the drive will be 1/ p2p temp files and 2/ stored media such as movies being read or written (either in bulk as files, or watched as movies). So it will have much random I/O from the p2p functionality, movies being watched, and also many-GB of files being copied to and from, at times.

Edited by Fox2

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The other folks have given you some sound advice already, here is a bit more:

I dont know if quietness and or coolness are factors for you, but keep in mind that the WD drive is both quieter and cooler. On the other hand, if you want 750GB, obviously WD isn't an option yet, so that might play a role.

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Quietness and coolness aren't issues -- the former isn't excessive for either as best I can tell, the latter is taken care of (open side case, spaced out drives, all running cool already). Although 750 GB would be more proof against whatever law it is that says data storage needs grow exponentially, in practice both 500 and 750 GB are good enough that my attention moves towards reliability rather than size, for the ES and RE2 families.

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I beg you to consider RAID1.

I would, if it was commercial/business use and not home use. I can't afford a second drive.

I'm kind of pinning my hopes for backup on drive quality, and on the drive surviving a year till blue-ray (hopefully) becomes affordable, since there's few other means (including tape) that are of a size and price range to back up a terabyte of home-use data on a sensible amount of media. I've been crossing fingers for a year on that one.

RAID1 with two of the non-ES model would be about 60% more costly than ES alone, and it's a financial problem to afford that level of cost. I wish it wasn't, but that's why I'm looking at the ES model in the meantime. Problematic, isn't it?

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I understand the position you are in. The problem with enterprise class ATA drives is that we don't know what additional validation a manufacturer implements (if any). It is entirely possible that they use an alternative label and slap a longer warranty on a consumer quality drive. To make matters even more complicated, it's certain that the additional validation differs between manufacturers. All in all, there is little reliability difference between "enterprise" class ATA drives and their consumer counterparts.

If your budget is constraining, I have had success "waiting out" deals at Best Buy / CompUSA (or pricewatch.com). Basically, you wait for one of their $100 rebate + $40 mail-in rebate offers and get the largest, yet most inexpensive, drives possible.

Assuming your budget is $250 (the price of cheapest 750GB that I can find at the moment)

I see 320GB drives at ~$80

I see 400GB drives at ~$100

I see 500GB drives at ~$120

You could effectively have a 500GB RAID1 array for "less" than a single 750GB drive.

If this is not persuasive, then by all means purchase an the largest capacity drive that meets your budget. Don't worry about whether a drive is "enterprise class", as it effectively means "longer warranty", more expensive, and little additional factory validation (which you could do yourself).

Thank you for your time,

Frank Russo

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If your data does not change that frequently (ie, you mostly just add new stuff), I'd recommend regular full backups to a second hard drive rather than RAID1, with incremental backups onto DVD in between.

Can't afford a second drive? Well there is nothing wrong (yet) with the old drive you are using right now so it would be perfect for holding a backup of at least what you have now. The beauty of this solution is that, unlike RAID1, the drives do not need to match in performance or capacity.

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I'm kind of pinning my hopes for backup on drive quality

Yikes! :) If you can afford a 750, then you have enough money to "pin your hopes" on having all your files backed up on a seperate drive, no? That way you're not rolling dice on if your bits will still be there tomorrow or not.

I don't know the exact prices, but for the price of a 750 could you maybe buy a 250, a 400, and a USB2/eSATA enclosure? Use the 250 for storage, and put the 400 in the enclosure. Any backup program can automatically keep 1-2 weeks of differential backups on that 400, so if you ever lose the 250 (or more commonly: erase a file you wish you hadn't) you can get things back from any point in the last 7-14 days.

If you have 2 computers you could also have them back each other up over the network: that's what I do.

This probably isn't what you wanted to hear: but disk space is dirt cheap: disks are worth nothing. Knowing your data is safely protected on a seperate disk run by an automatic program that you don't have to think about is worth a lot.

This is assuming your data is important, and not disposable stuff you could easily get again with a P2P app: in that case buy the 750 :)

Regards,

Bit

(Oh, and this setup works nice over time as well: when you need more space you buy a large disk... make it your backup disk... and your old backup disk becomes you new storage space. Rinse and repeat as needed...)

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The new 750 GB is exactly that. My current drives are all full, and I've already got 200 GB on another PC here. I want about 500 + GB of extra storage space, and the 750 GB means I wouldn't have to fragment folders of similar content, between drives.

So it's not so much about getting a couple of drives for differential backup. Its about actually having 500 - 700 GB more of data long term and wanting a safe way to store them. The options for safety on that scale are: tape backup (costly + need to buy tape drive), blu-ray (not yet affordable but hopefully will be in a year), a 2nd 500-700 GB drive (unaffordable, or going for the most reliable model I can (ES/RE2) and hoping to heck it's good till some other solution comes round or large HD prices drop.

That's basically the thinking that's behind the question.

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This is assuming your data is important, and not disposable stuff you could easily get again with a P2P app: in that case buy the 750 :)

The stuff on it is indeed likely to be replacable. It'd be a pain, but doable. There's about 200 MB of it that would be harder (or messier) to replace and that I can back up on a smaller drive.

How does the opinion seem now, given this and the above post?

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