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  1. #1
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    Are external drives w/out mains power any good?

    My external hard drive has died – at least I think it has.

    Acronis had almost completed an image when a failure notice appeared, due to lack of space on drive E, the Vista recovery drive. Checking to see why it was trying to create it there, I discovered that the ext. drive was no longer showing on the laptop, and plugging it in to the desktop produced the same result.

    It is almost certainly dead, but I read recently that most hard drive failures are due to the AC adapter, so I wonder whether I should take it to a repair shop and have it checked, bearing in mind that the green light still shows when the drive is plugged in. Does the adapter have any function other than to reduce the mains voltage?

    However, my main reason for posting is to ask about a new drive. I notice that all the 2TB drives available, other than WD, no longer have a mains lead, whereas 3TB and above still do. Doesn’t the lack of mains power slow the drive considerably? And possibly increase the number of errors?

    George

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    Doesn't slow the drives at all I don't think; they're only so fast to begin with being magnetic platter drives so they'll never attain USB 3 speed. Most are 5400 RPM instead of 7200 but the areal density is so high I think that makes up for slower spin rate. They also run hecka lot cooler than their big brothers which should increase longevity a bit, all things being equal.

    Cautions are they are really portable, but just as fragile as the bigger drives, so no brain farts allowed just because they are so portable, dependable PS is a must, and I wouldn't recommend plugging them into a USB hub even if powered though one could probably get away with it technically, but it would probably substantially slow I/O with other devices sharing one port.

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    It will depend upon what you're specifically using it for and in conjunction with which type of computing device.

    I have a few non plug-in, USB powered WD passports lying around that work well for imaging my laptop and desktop, but they would
    probably not be practice for weaker devices, like notebooks & tablets.
    But all I use it for is imaging and hard copy data backup.

    If you need to rely on an external drive for heavier everyday usage, then a powered external drive is what you'll want to get.
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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CLiNT View Post
    I have a few non plug-in, USB powered WD passports lying around that work well for imaging my laptop and desktop, but they would
    probably not be practice for weaker devices, like notebooks & tablets.
    But all I use it for is imaging and hard copy data backup.
    Thanks, it will be used solely for images and backups from desktop and laptop, so should be fine. A 3TB drive is really too much for my needs, and apparently I would only be able to access 2 TB anyway.

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    I have found that in most cases it is better to have "external" power for a USB device than to depend on the power which is provided via the USB wire.

    (For instance, I wouldn't depend on a USB hub which didn't have its own power supply.)

    A hard drive is going to use a lot of power compared to, say, a USB keyboard or mouse, and so I would definitely want to have a power supply for it as well.

    If you are connecting it to your desktop computer, you could always remove the USB adapter from the external hard drive, and then run some extension wires into the box -- one for data and one for power. In this way you would bypass USB altogether, and it would become just like an internal hard drive, which is, in my opinion, the most reliable way to connect it.

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    As suspected, so it looks as though I need to buy another dreadful WD machine, the suggestion in your last paragraph being way beyond my capabilities.

    In any case, it’s not really practical, as I want to store images from two desktops and a laptop on it.

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Why not try something like this:

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...174&CatId=2785

    This is an external cradle for your hard drive. It plugs into your USB port (either 2.0 or 3.0), AND it has its own power supply.

    You snap in your hard drive, and it becomes an external hard drive. Couldn't be easier.

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    A docking station, or "toaster" as they're affectionately known, could work out just fine but I'll just relay that I have 5 toasters and upwards of 20 2.5 USB powered drives and I prefer the little portables by quite a bit. I've had all sorts of little quirky problems with the toasters, like preventing the system from booting even if the BIOS is set to ignore anything except CD or internal boot drive. Formatting problems, loss of recognition when SSDs are used, drive overheating issues because they never spin down when not in use. Problems I've had with the little portables, zero, knock on wood.

    Like I said, you may be just fine and not encounter any of those problems, just letting ya know the ones that I have encountered.

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  12. #9
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, FUN. I've never used a "toaster", but I did just order a set of 24" SATA extension cables (one data and one power), so that I can power down, hook up a drive, and power up, any time I want to.

    I'll bet that after doing that, it would be a good idea to check the boot order in BIOS, just to make sure of which drive I'll be booting from.

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    Cool

    You could try one of these it makes 2.5" and 3.5" drives hot swappable.
    Clive

    All typing errors are my own work and subject to patents pending. Except errors by the spell checker. And that has its own patients.

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    Have you tried a replacement hard drive enclosure for your "bad drive"? They sell for as little as $10.

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    Quote Originally Posted by curiousclive View Post
    You could try one of these it makes 2.5" and 3.5" drives hot swappable.
    Hi Clive,
    It looks as though it might be too complicated for me. I see it’s a SATA drive, whereas my old desktop and the spare drive for it are IDE, and I've no idea what system the Vista desktop and upgraded Win8 laptop have.

    However, this raises an interesting point which I have never considered before. If either of the other machines is SATA, does this mean I would need one external drive for images from XP and another from any SATA machine, or can they all go on the one drive?

    I only learnt about SATA last year after purchasing a new DVD Writer and having to take it back to the shop because the connections didn’t match the existing lead. Whatever external drive I get will be connected by USB, of course, but I have no idea whether this makes a difference. You will notice that I am no technician.

    George

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    The computer will handle all the different communication connections so any drive can be used. It only makes a difference in the way you've already found out with the DVD writer and being physically able to connect them. So the key to using a USB drive on all the systems is that all the systems have USB ports to connect to.

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