How-To: Choose the best external hard drive for your Mac (or iOS device!)

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I feel old saying this, but having used computers since before external hard drives existed, I can say with certainty that buying a hard drive is easier today than it’s ever been before. For traditional drives, prices are low, options are numerous, and capacities are so high that your only choices are “enough space,” “more than enough space,” and “way more than enough space.” I could point you towards a gigantic 5-Terabyte $139 Seagate USB 3.0 hard drive right now and end this article without another paragraph. Since Apple doesn’t even sell a Mac with that much disk space, you could back up five (or more) computers to that drive without running out of room. Or you could store a decade worth of digital photos alongside a giant media library. For $139!

But buying an external hard drive isn’t necessarily that simple. There are a bunch of factors worth considering before making a purchase, including everything from reliability to portability, design, capacity, speed, and connectivity. Some hard drives are really cheap but have a higher chance of failing after a year or two of heavy use. So in this How-To, I’m going to discuss the big issues you need to consider, and guide you towards the best external hard drive for your needs…

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Seagate zaps Thunderbolt drives, LaCie to continue lineup

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Seagate will discontinue its lineup of Thunderbolt storage products in favor of pushing Thunderbolt under its premium LaCie brand, 9to5Mac has learned.

A company spokesperson confirmed the move noting that the product life cycles for the company’s USM technology, which allowed integration of interfaces like Thunderbolt through adapters, is “coming to a conclusion.” Read more

Review: LaCie’s Mirror and Seagate’s Seven set new standards for Mac hard drive shininess, thinness

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Until last week, the list of companies making visually stunning external hard drives began and ended with one name: LaCie. Partnered with respected industrial designers including Philippe Starck, LaCie has released more drool-worthy accessories than any other company in the Mac space — and that’s saying something. Numerous design successes led to LaCie’s acquisition by hard drive manufacturer Seagate, and at the 2015 CES, their combination bore fruit: the LaCie brand now has another beautiful hard drive called Mirror ($280), and Seagate debuted a designer hard drive called Seven ($100) — the thinnest 500GB portable drive ever made.

Although they’re cosmetically different and arguably designed to suit different users’ needs, Mirror and Seven have a lot in common, so we’re looking at them together in this review. Read on for photos and our hands-on test results.

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Seagate and LaCie debut fashionable/wireless hard drives for iOS and Mac ahead of 2015 CES

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Seagate and its LaCie subsidiary have announced five new hard drives just ahead of this week’s 2015 CES, including two new iOS-compatible wireless models and three new Mac-only disks. All except one will be available in January from the company’s web sites.

For iOS, the 500GB Seagate Wireless ($130) is an economical and portable, battery-powered hard disk designed to compete with G-Technology’s G-Connect and Western Digital’s My Passport Wireless. Just under 4″ on each side and less than an inch thick, Seagate’s version is designed to look fun, with your choice of green, blue, gray, red, or white matte housings, and uses integrated Wi-Fi to connect with iOS devices and Macs for media playback as well as Android/Windows/Chrome. It runs for nine hours between charges and can connect to 3 devices simultaneously.

Seagate Seven ($100) is a Mac-only alternative that promises to be the world’s thinnest portable hard drive. Made from 100% stainless steel, the enclosure is only 7mm thick and includes a USB 3.0 cable for connecting to a computer, giving up wireless in order to achieve its small size. In a break from traditionally boxy or rounded hard drives, Seven is actually slim enough to let you see the contours of the traditional hard disk mechanism inside. Three additional drives are discussed below…

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Seagate expands iPhone/iPad-connected Wireless Plus lineup to include 500GB & 2TB mobile external drives

Seagate announced today that it is expanding its Wireless Plus external hard drives to include both a larger storage capacity and a more affordable offering as well. Joining the 1TB Seagate Wireless Plus mobile external drive announced last year is a new 500GB drive creating a lower price point and a new 2TB drive doubling the storage capacity in the lineup… Read more

Apple vs Samsung: Apple loses bid for US ban, new trial over juror misconduct denied, Samsung drops EU sales ban requests

apple-v-samsungToday, we have updates on Apple and Samsung’s ongoing court woes. A report from Bloomberg noted U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in the San Jose, California case rejected Apple’s most recent request for a United States sales ban on 26 Samsung devices. According to the report, Koh said the decision was based on the fact that the “case involves lost sales—not a lost ability to be a viable market participant.”

“Samsung may have cut into Apple’s customer base somewhat, but there is no suggestion that Samsung will wipe out Apple’s customer base, or force Apple out of the business of making smartphones,” Koh said. “The present case involves lost sales — not a lost ability to be a viable market participant.”

As noted by The Verge, a second post-trial order delivered by Koh yesterday denied Samsung’s request for a new trial on the claims of jury misconduct. Koh claimed that juror Velvin Hogan disclosed his previous involvement with Seagate during the jury selection process, giving Samsung’s lawyers more than enough time to discover the litigation. From the court filing:

Samsung has waived its claim for an evidentiary hearing and a new trial based on Mr. Hogan’s alleged dishonesty during voir dire.  Prior to the verdict, Samsung could have discovered Mr. Hogan’s litigation with Seagate, had Samsung acted with reasonable diligence based on information Samsung acquired through voir dire, namely that Mr. Hogan stated during voir dire that he had worked for Seagate.

Samsung vs. Apple cases abroad are also making news today: FossPatents reported today that Samsung has dropped all requests for sales bans against Apple in Europe related to standard-essential patents. However, as pointed out in the report, Samsung will still attempt to win monetary compensation in its cases against Apple, but will no longer request courts to enforce bans on Apple products. FossPatents speculated on Samsung’s decision: Read more

Judge to review claims of juror misconduct in Apple vs. Samsung case Dec. 6

Following the $1 billion verdict in the Samsung vs. Apple case, Samsung has been attempting to get the courts to investigate juror Velvin Hogan. It claimed Hogan “concealed information” about his past history with Seagate, a company Samsung is now a shareholder in. CNET reported Federal District Judge Lucy Koh will consider Samsung’s claims in a hearing set for Dec. 6. At the heart of the allegations is whether Hogan disclosed that his former employee Seagate had previously sued him:

As part of her inquiry, Koh said she will require Apple to disclose what information the company’s lawyers knew about the jury foreman…Samsung argued that jury foreman Velvin Hogan didn’t disclose during jury selection that he had been sued by Seagate, his former employer. Samsung pointed out in court papers that Seagate and Samsung have a “substantial strategic relationship.” The litigation with Seagate led Hogan to file for personal bankruptcy in 1993. Samsung maintains Hogan should have informed the court about the case.

The Register reported today that Apple called Samsung’s argument a “convoluted theory,” adding it was Samsung responsibilities to interview jurors members during jury selection: Read more

G-Technology releases its G-RAID Thunderbolt drive, starting at $700

We already took a look at Hitachi’s G-Technology’s Thunderbolt solutions at CES in January but today they are finally available to the public. The Thunderbolt version features two Thunderbolt ports, rather than the eSATA, FireWire, and USB ports found on the regular version of the G-RAID. As for the hard drives inside, there are two SATA 3Gb/s Hitachi Deskstar hard drives, which can be configured in a 4TB, 6TB, or 8TB setup, each running at 7200RPM. All three versions of the drive are priced at $700, $850, and $1,000 respectively. You can see more technical specs below, as laid out by AnandTech.

With two Thunderbolt ports, these drives can be daisy-chained together to build-out the ultimate storage solution. Currently, the G-Technology competes against four other companies in the space: LaCie, Promise, Western Digital, and Seagate. The G-Raid is the only drive that features 8TB of storage, however.

We compared the drive during this year’s CES with a few others:

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60TB drives made possible by Seagate’s new 1 TB/inch platter tech

Seagate officially announced and demoed the first hard drive technology to achieve a storage density of 1 TB per square inch. The technology could enable hard drives over the next decade to reach an unheard of storage capacity up to 60 TB for a 3.5-inch drive. Helping them to accomplish this milestone is heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR); a next-generation recording technology that will replace Perpendicular Magnetic Recording currently used in hard drives. Seagate explained:
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More ThunderBolt at CES 2012: Western Digital shows impressive speeds, Hitachi shows pro setups and Seagate shows off sleds

I had some time to demonstrate some of the upcoming Thunderbolt accessories from external drive makers at CES earlier today. We briefly discussed a few others from OCZ, LaCie, Belkin and Elgato earlier in the week. First up is the Western Digital MyBook Thunderbolt Duo:

These are going to compare nicely to the Promise RAID setup that has similar speeds, but it does not have a price or release date yet.  The vibe seemed to be like Q2 with perhaps an announcement at Macworld.

Next up is the Hitachi G-Drive series of Thunderbolt Drives, and these drives are 8TBs…

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Time Capsules accept user 3TB drives?

Apple last week bumped up its Time Capsule wireless backup appliance to 2TB and 3TB models, priced the same $299 and $499, respectively. In addition, Apple appears to be now using consumer public drives from Western Digital (bumped up from Hitachi Deskstar drives). That, plus the $499 price point puts the new 3TB Time Capsule pretty much out of reach on price-conscious buyers. In fact, you’re better off, as we explained, hooking up an external USB drive to your 1TB Time Capsule.

But if you hate the clutter and yearn for a sealed, elegant solution with only one plug, you needn’t pony up $200 extra for a 3TB Time Capsule: It would seem that the wireless gizmo accepts 3TB internal drives, if properly partitioned. According to a HardMac reader:

I personally installed a 3 TB WD Caviar Green 3To (by chance!), when it came out 5 months ago, in a 1 TB Time Capsule that I bought around that time as well. I formatted it with Airport Utility to have the 3 partitions that are necessary for Time Machine and it was immediately recognized as a 3 TB disk. I’ve been using it ever since without any problem.

One caveat…

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