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  1. #1

    External hard drives/gaming from one

    I am going to need a fairly beefy external drive later in the summer but I know hardly anything about them. Aside from data storage I will also be gaming from games installed to it and it will also need to be robust (both to physical shocks and to heat).
    A quick google search came up with this http://www.ebuyer.com/396739-samsung...k-hx-m101tcb-g would something like that fit what I require?

  2. #2
    Lesser Hivemind Node Feldspar's Avatar
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    The thing with external drives is that they are never going to transfer data quicker than your internal drive, so you need to use the fastest connection the machine you can plug it in can handle. So, that looks fine if you have USB 3.0 (which is backward compatible, but you won't get the extra speed).

    Something tells me that the current state of play for (single connection) device transfer speeds is something like:-

    Thunderbolt > USB 3.0 > eSata

    But good luck in finding a non-Mac device with a Thunderbolt connection.

  3. #3
    I do have USB 3.0. It won't be used for high spec games, just as long as it works to a reasonable degree. To be honest my main concern is durability. I had an external drive before and it didn't last long in a hot, dusty environment.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feldspar View Post
    Something tells me that the current state of play for (single connection) device transfer speeds is something like:-

    Thunderbolt > USB 3.0 > eSata
    eSATA3 is faster than USB3.0, which is faster than eSATA2. eSATA also has the advantage that most hard drives are SATA devices internally, so a USB3.0 drive needs to convert the signal and that hinders performance to some extent.

    Thunderbolt is awesome though.

    Anyway, you actually need to look beyond the interface to find out how a drive will perform. It's not unheard of for manufacturers to take a very slow drive, slap on a high-speed interface, and market it as a super-speedy drive.

  5. #5
    Network Hub Ernesto's Avatar
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    Do games really access the HDD so much? I'd expect longer loading times, but overall performance shouldn't suffer. That is, if your RAM is big enough.
    Is this correct or am I missing something?

  6. #6
    Lesser Hivemind Node Feldspar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakkura View Post
    eSATA3 is faster than USB3.0, which is faster than eSATA2. eSATA also has the advantage that most hard drives are SATA devices internally, so a USB3.0 drive needs to convert the signal and that hinders performance to some extent.
    I knew it didn't look right for some reason, must have missed eSATA3 off what I was looking at.

    Quote Originally Posted by palindrome View Post
    I do have USB 3.0. It won't be used for high spec games, just as long as it works to a reasonable degree. To be honest my main concern is durability. I had an external drive before and it didn't last long in a hot, dusty environment.
    Unfortunately, computer equipment doesn't like hot, dusty environments. You could look for one especially designed to be hardier, but I would never be sure you are paying for something that will actually last longer.
    Last edited by Feldspar; 23-02-2013 at 05:39 PM.

  7. #7
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    You do realise that the HDDs in external drives are EXACTLY the same as those inside your laptop or desktop?

    Dust isn't a factor either - HDDs are sealed against stuff like that so dust would only be a factor if you let it stop airflow.

    The only things which will kill an HDD are

    - mechanical failure/fault (same in any HDD)
    - shock
    - heat (and many people believe this is MUCH less an issue than people think - Google included!)

    Laptops and desktops are arguably worse than external enclosures for heat anyway - the machine generates more heat than the drive and the drive shares that same space.

    I have to admit, anecdotally, I see a LOT more HDD failures in external enclosures than I do in PCs but I honestly think that has nothing to do with the hardware and everything to do with the people who use the hardware.

    Some of the things which happen to external HDDs a lot include

    - being unplugged from a PC without ejecting first
    - losing power unexpectedly
    - being moved when in-use
    - being moved around generally

    I think it's those things which tend to kill them and not environmental factors or anything to do with the enclosures - e.g. it's a PEBKAC situation.

  8. #8
    As long as it survives for at least 4 months though that's all I need.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ernesto View Post
    Do games really access the HDD so much? I'd expect longer loading times, but overall performance shouldn't suffer. That is, if your RAM is big enough.
    Is this correct or am I missing something?
    I ran off an External HDD for a long time and no, apart from slightly extended loading times (though tbh, I never really noticed) it wasn't an issue.

    Only time it was actually a problem was when copying large blocks of files across - and even then, a lot of it was Windows having terrible file handling code. It seems to read one file, then copy it across, then do the next file - so whilst it's reading, it isn't using the connection to the external HDD at all, and even on an internal HDD reading is pretty slow. My solutions were either to split the copy into 4 or 5 parts and run them simultaneously, or boot up into Linux, which handled it much more sensibly.
    "Swans are so big, they're like the Ostriches of the bird world"

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    Dust isn't a factor either - HDDs are sealed against stuff like that so dust would only be a factor if you let it stop airflow.
    They do have an opening to equalize pressure. There's a filter there, which may get clogged with dust over time. Pressure changes are what induces airflow in and out of the drive, so keeping temperature variations to a minimum should help there (since pressure changes with temperature).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakkura View Post
    They do have an opening to equalize pressure. There's a filter there, which may get clogged with dust over time. Pressure changes are what induces airflow in and out of the drive, so keeping temperature variations to a minimum should help there (since pressure changes with temperature).
    Worth noting that the last few 2.5" drive enclosures I've seen have actually had no cooling vents of any obvious kind at all! I used to pull those things apart to get 'cheap' drives out of them (until they started to fit them with drives which have custom USB interfaces!!) and there was no obvious design for cooling other than letting the heat soak-out through the (very very cheap and thin) plastic case.

    3.5" drive-based units are a different thing but given the need to drag a PSU around, I'm not sure why anyone would bother with those housebricks? :)

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Boris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by palindrome View Post
    As long as it survives for at least 4 months though that's all I need.
    So, you're getting deployed to the Middle East I take it? If so, good luck over there. A mate of mine is there now.

    Anyway, buy a 2.5" one. Those are laptop drives, which are capable to withstand more shocks than desktop drives (people lug around laptops daily). Part of this is durability engineering, the other part is that the read/write arm is just smaller and thus lighter, and simple physics.

    They also use less power so can operate a bit better in hot areas. Also make an effort to keep it cool (don't dump some clothing on it while it's operating, for example, or put it next to a laptop hot air exhaust).

    You can game of them, but don't expect great loading times. It'll be good enough though.

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