It’s not that I constantly run out of storage but I just loving having more than I need. Yes, I do have a lot of videos and photos, and other bumpf – but most of that can be compartmentalised onto a couple of 2-4TB hard drives. The trouble is I really want to have them all on a SINGLE drive. Just one drive. Driv-ana!
Also, I’m really tired of backing up multiple drives. I can easily spend an entire Sunday afternoon just mirroring one drive to another, making sure I have a master copy of all the stuff I really care about. Copying all of my camera cards over to a master drive, then making backups. Ditto for everything else. Computer backups. Ugh. It becomes a bit of a logistical nightmare.
So – what are my options for one single, mega-sized, fast (oh, yeah, and cheap) bad-ass hard drive?
Right now, we’re maxing out at 10TB in a single drive and 8TB seems to be the norm, so let’s have a…
Bad Ass Hard Drive Smackdown!
Holy Cow – 10TB???
HGST Ultrastar He10 10TB (aka Helium)
Yeah, these guys must have been inhaling helium when they came up with that dog’s dinner of a name! HGST sounds like when you sneeze-cough and your oesophagus closes, so you blow chunks out your nose. It’s actually an amalgam of Hitachi Storage Solutions and Western Digital, who probably joined forces to enlarge WD’s empire and save their reputation of a once-great-but-destined-to-become-crappy hard drive manufacturer (because Hitachi kicks ass).
Jokes aside, these helium-inhaling lab boffins came up with the first 10TB hard drive and here it is. They claim that it is 50% more power-efficient than its 8TB predecessors and 25% more reliable. Mean time to failure is at 2.5M hours. That’s a long time. The earth probably won’t be around then, given global warming. Or, perhaps, if we buy enough of these drives, we’ll contribute to global warming? Who knows. Until then, let’s store our millions of hours worth of video with abandon.
Now, buying one of these drives is a head scratcher. If you don’t know what I mean, read this. They come in a gazillion different combinations, depending upon the interface (SATA or SAS), 512e or 4kn format, whether you need “instant secure erase (ISE)” or “secure erase” (SE), self-encrypting, whether your enclosure supports Power Disable Pin(3), and on and on and on. Oh lord, what do I do?
Hire a boffin.
Or, just ask us. Sometimes, we know the answer 😉
In a nutshell, the 4kn is a newer byte storage specification, as opposed to the older 512k storage size per sector. In order to get the performance benefits of 4K, your equipment needs to support it. If it doesn’t, you’ll get I/O errors, read failures, and all holy hell will descend upon you from valkyries in the sky. So, if you’re not sure, you’ll probably want to go with the 512e – meaning that it uses 4K storage under the hood but emulates good ‘ole fashioned 512K, so as not to confuse the old dear that’s spinning your platters.
Erring on the side of caution here, we’re including links to two SATA drives with ISE – the first is 512e, the second 4kn.
Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD 10TB (Helium)
Then, along came Seagate and got in on the act.
And they were also inhaling helium.
They, too, have a speed and size demon with very similar specs. I can’t say which is better. Check the price 😉
You might save a little more by looking at their NAS and desktop storage products. The interface speed and cache are similar but their mean time failure specs are not.
Have a Cow – 8TB!
Now, when we get into 8TB territory, it clearly becomes more of a battlefield. There are literally hundreds of products strewn around. But it’s simple choose, just speed and price, no? Ah, yes, my little grasshopper, you have much to learn.
Western Digital 8TB Hard Drives
The guys at Western Digital (they still like their name), think it’s helpful to colour code their drives like candy. This is supposed to make them easier to choose. Blue is for budget (makes sense), Green is eco-friendly, power-saving and better priced, Red is for NAS applications but a step up from the other two, Black is for performance, and Purple is for surveillance applications in that they’re optimised for video recordings. Now, they go off-piste when it comes to enterprise drives, because they start using new acronyms that only they understand: Re, Re+, Se, Ae. Got this yet? There’s going to be a test, after.
If you want to get the full low-down, these guys do a nice write-up on what all the minutiae of differences are.
However, if you want to buy an 8TB hard drive from WD, you don’t have many choices, so that makes things really simple! Want budget, buy the Red. Want best-in-class performance, buy the Gold.
Seagate 8TB Hard Drives
At this moment in time, Seagate doesn’t offer their complete range in 8TB format but there are still a few to choose from: a desktop HDD for everyday performance (aka “cheap and cheerful”), a NAS HDD for small businesses and home users that need a little more performance & reliability, an enterprise NAS drive for bigger businesses, and an enterprise HDD for high-performance data centres.
I’m going to assume that your not a datacenter customer, so let’s focus in on the everyday performance and NAS versions. We’re listing them in order of regular to premium.
We have one of their archive drives and, believe us, they really are only for archiving. You’re going to wait for them to spin up a few seconds and get going, before you get a directory list. So, don’t use the archive drive as your regular drive! Only for content that you don’t access often, like backups. It isn’t designed for frequent read/writes and you’ll be irritated by its performance.
The Desktop and NAS drives are similarly spec’d in terms of transfer speeds (6Gbps) and disk rpm (7400) but the latter is designed for more punishing use and data error recovery features (like as part of a RAID array).
Once you get your hard drive, you’ll want to put them into a dock or enclosure (if they aren’t going directly into your computer). Here’s a line up of some of the best hard drive docks and hard drive enclosures that we’ve come across: